Martin Scorsese Speaks on Directing BOARDWALK EMPIRE

Martin Scorsese recently had a chance to talk about why he was drawn into directing the pilot episode of HBO's upcoming 1920's gangster TV series Boardwalk Empire.

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"I think it’s the charting of this world and the underworld, as with Mean Streets, Goodfellas and Casino. The major urban areas had a lot of gang activity. Also, there is America’s love affair with the gangster as a tragic hero. It’s about how it resonates today, not only in America, but around the world," said Scorsese.

Boardwalk Empire stars Steve Buscemi as a criminal kingpin based on a real life character during the time of prohibition, an event that pretty much spawned organized crime and brought it into the limelight in the United States.

"One of the things is that the good intentions of Prohibition, from reading over the years and from becoming obsessed with the research of gangs in New York City, seems to have allowed crime figures at the time, like Luciano, Capone, Torrio and Rothstein, to organize to become more powerful, which pulled all the way through until the ‘70s," said Scorsese.

He also spoke about bringing Buscemi into the spotlight and how excited he was to work with the actor again. They had worked briefly together on New York Stories.

"I love the range he has and his dramatic sense, but also his sense of humor. There’s something that’s very, very strong on camera, with Steve as a character, whatever he plays, whether it’s in The Big Lebowski or Ghost World, or any of his films," said Scorsese.

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"I think it was a very interesting idea that Steve would play this part because it’s a character that is basically a decent guy, but that world corrupts him so much. He’s a pragmatist, too. He’s practical. He’s put in the position of being a treasurer, yet the treasurer runs the city and, ultimately, you figure out how much sin you can live with," said Scorsese.

Although there are no current plans for him to return to the director's chair for Boardwalk Empire, Scorsese said he would love to as long as there are no scheduling conflicts.

Boardwalk Empire is set in 1920's prohibition era Atlantic City and highlights the period of time in the United States when shady individuals learned to profit from the sale of illegal alcohol. The pilot episode is directed by Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Casino) and produced by Terence Winter (The Sopranos). The series debuts only on HBO, September 19th.