Despite their public declarations that the two men had a “terrific working relationship,” legendary director Martin Scorsese and disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein often butted heads on the set of “Gangs of New York,” which marks its 20th anniversary on Tuesday.
Weinstein’s Miramax acquired the rights to “Gangs of New York” in 1999, setting in motion a behind-the-scenes “battle” over the film that was close to Scorsese’s heart and 25 years in the making. Set mostly during the Civil War in New York’s “Five Points” slum, the epic drama portrays the rivalry between native and immigrant gangs amid a crucial time in American history.
The Hollywood heavy hitters’ distaste for one another was exposed in several areas on set, be it over costumes, names, or the progress of the production, according to The Independent.
“While the Five Points was the setting of the film’s major battles, there was a clash behind the scenes, too: Martin Scorsese vs Harvey Weinstein,” the report said. “There were reports of numerous points of friction, such as Weinstein turning up on set and harrying Scorsese to work faster; or that Weinstein was unhappy with Day-Lewis’s less-than-attractive get-up in the film, which he claimed just wouldn’t look good on a poster.”
Scorsese’s frustration with Weinstein reached such a fever pitch that at one point he flipped over a desk when Weinstein told the director he didn’t like the name of one of the gangs in the film, according to Michael Hausman, the film’s executive producer.
“Among things that Weinstein didn’t like was the Dead Rabbits gang name,” according to the report. “But Hausman warned him: don’t bring up the Dead Rabbits name; both Scorsese and [Leonardo] DiCaprio loved it. But during a meeting with Weinstein’s assistant, the topic came up. ‘When the meeting started, the first thing out of his mouth was that Harvey doesn’t like the name, Dead Rabbits,’ says Hausman. ‘Marty went over and threw a desk upside down – with a PA’s computer on – and ran out of the room. We didn’t see him for the rest of the day.’”
The film itself received generally positive reviews and nabbed 10 Oscar nominations. It would also be one of several projects which brought Scorsese and A-list actor Leonardo DiCaprio together over the years. Daniel Day-Lewis was also widely acclaimed for his performance in the movie as “Bill the Butcher.”
Movie critics welcomed the news that Scorsese privately disliked Weinstein, particularly in light of the latter’s fall from grace.
Weinstein lost his hold over Hollywood in 2017 after a series of reports detailed his decades of sexual misconduct toward women. He was convicted of rape and sexual assault charges in 2020 and is serving a 23-year prison sentence at the Wende Correctional Facility in New York.
Scorsese was credited with coming to the rescue of director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s film “The Current War,” a drama that follows the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, in the wake of the collapse of The Weinstein Co. Scorsese agreed to be a producer on the film as a “safety net,” according to Gomez-Rejon.
“This has been an unusual journey, even for unusual Hollywood stories. This was surreal and traumatic and the fact that it has a final chapter, it’s just a triumph for so many of us that worked on the movie, and I owe it to him,” Gomez-Rejon said of Scorsese during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2019.