Always the Director: Martin Scorsese Spoofs Himself in Two Commercials

Over the years, Mar­tin Scors­ese has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a con­sum­mate film­mak­er, an obses­sive per­fec­tion­ist who lives and breathes cin­e­ma. In these two com­mer­cials the famed direc­tor moves to the front of the cam­era to make fun of his own man­ic per­fec­tion­ism.

In 2003 Scors­ese was asked to play him­self in a com­mer­cial for Amer­i­can Express (see above), which was one of the spon­sors of the Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val. In keep­ing with his rep­u­ta­tion for fas­tid­i­ous­ness, Scors­ese demand­ed to see a resume and show reel from vet­er­an com­mer­cial direc­tor Jim Jenk­ins before agree­ing to the shoot. “It’s like Kobe Bryant ask­ing for your bas­ket­ball cre­den­tials,” Jenk­ins told Ste­fano Hat­field at Adver­tis­ing Age. “What are you gonna say? I once direct­ed Tonya Hard­ing in a Fox Sports com­mer­cial?”

Scors­ese appar­ent­ly liked what he saw, because Jenk­ins was hired. The shoot took place in a Los Ange­les drug­store dur­ing a sin­gle day. “The main chal­lenge,” wrote Hat­field in his arti­cle, “was to get Mr. Scors­ese to speak as quick­ly as we all think he does. He actu­al­ly had to be coaxed into that machine-gun deliv­ery we have all come to expect of him. While it is entire­ly cred­i­ble that this per­fec­tion­ist would have his nephew stage a par­ty all over again for a bet­ter shoot, Mr. Scors­ese admit­ted that he had­n’t actu­al­ly col­lect­ed a roll of film from a drug­store for 15 years.”

Jenk­ins and Scors­ese teamed up again for a 2008 AT&T com­mer­cial that was shown in the­aters to encour­age movie-goers to silence their phones. It shows Scors­ese barg­ing into the home of a moth­er and her young son and pro­ceed­ing to direct a pri­vate phone call.  The mes­sage: “We won’t inter­rupt your phone calls. Please don’t inter­rupt our movies.” Scors­ese was orig­i­nal­ly expect­ed to direct the com­mer­cial, accord­ing to Jenk­ins, but decid­ed just to act in it. “Obvi­ous­ly he’s a nat­ur­al actor,” Jenk­ins said of Scors­ese in an inter­view with Cre­ativ­i­ty-online. “But he was ner­vous. He just want­ed it to be fun­ny. He said, ‘I can’t know if it’s fun­ny. Just make it fun­ny.’ ”

You can watch the com­mer­cial below to decide for your­self whether it’s fun­ny. And be sure to come back tomor­row, when we fea­ture an imag­i­na­tive com­mer­cial direct­ed by Scors­ese him­self.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Mar­tin Scors­ese’s Very First Films: Three Imag­i­na­tive Short Works

Mar­tin Scors­ese Appears in New Apple Ad, Plays on His Chill­ing Cameo in Taxi Dri­ver

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  • George H Zinn says:

    The AT&T was very clever, and I could imag­ine Mar­ty barg­ing into some­body’s home try­ing to direct them in his own unique way. Mar­ty is obsessed with imag­i­na­tion and vision, and I think it would be awe­some to walk around with this amaz­ing direc­tor and lis­ten to his fas­ci­nat­ing life. I love Mar­ty Scors­ese.

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