Martin Scorsese: His most frequent collaborators

Who are the actors, producers and screenwriters Scorsese decides to work with again and again?

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro attend the
Martin Scorsese (centre) often relies previous collaborators such as Leonardo DiCaprio (left) and Robert De Niro (right). (Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Martin Scorsese is a filmmaker renowned for his gritty portrayals of American culture.

Since the 1970s, he has crafted a body of work that is bold and brilliant, though often demanding and intense. Known for working with substantial budgets and Hollywood's top stars, he has a reputation as a cult director with mainstream resources.

His most renowned films, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Irishman, are considered cinema classics with numerous Oscar nominations.

Surprisingly, Scorsese — born in 1942 in Queens, New York — himself won his first and only Oscar for directing The Departed in 2007, four decades after his debut film premiered.

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese giving direction to Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of The Wolf of Wall Street. (PA/Alamy)

His latest project, Killers of the Flower Moon, reunites him with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. It tells the true story of a series of overlooked killings in 1920s and 1930s Oklahoma, where indigenous Native Americans were brutally murdered in a ruthless land grab for the oil beneath their settlements.

Celebrated as one of the most acclaimed American directors in the history of cinema — Francis Ford Coppola recently dubbed him 'the world’s greatest living filmmaker — Scorsese built a remarkable body of work over the decades, but who are Scorsese's most frequent collaborators?

These are the select group of talented individuals who have worked closely with him over the years.

Robert De Niro | Ten appearances

Mean Streets  Year: 1973  USA Director: Martin Scorsese Robert de Niro, Martin Scorsese, Harvey Keitel Shooting picture
Martin Scorsese (centre) gives direction to Robert De Niro (left) and Harvey Keitel (right) on the set of 1973's Mean Streets. (Alamy)

One of Martin Scorsese's most iconic collaborations has been with the legendary actor Robert De Niro, who he first worked with on 1973's Mean Streets.

Their partnership has spanned several decades and produced some of cinema's most memorable works including 1976's Taxi Driver, 1980's Raging Bull, 1990's Goodfellas, right up to 2023's Killers of the Flower Moon.

Kino. Taxi Driver, USA, 1976, Regie: Martin Scorsese, Darsteller: Robert De Niro. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)
Robert De Niro played Travis Bickle in 1976's Taxi Driver. (Getty Images)

De Niro's intense performances have often been the centre piece of Scorsese's films, and their collaboration has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema.

Leonardo DiCaprio | Six appearances

Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of their first collaboration: 2002's Gangs of New York. (PA/Alamy)

In recent years, another actor has become a prominent figure in Martin Scorsese's filmmaking journey - Leonardo DiCaprio. Their partnership began with 2002's Gangs of New York, and has continued with movies like 2004's The Aviator, 2006's The Departed, and 2013's The Wolf of Wall Street.

DiCaprio's versatility as an actor and his dedication to Scorsese's vision have resulted in critical and commercial successes.

Harvey Keitel | Six appearances

American actors Harvey Keitel and Robert de Niro on the set of Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Harvey Keitel and Robert de Niro on the set of Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Native New Yorker Harvey Keitel could be considered Scorsese's first acting muse taking big roles in six of his films starting with 1967's Who's That Knocking at My Door, 1973's Mean Streets, 1974's Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More, and 1976's Taxi Driver.

He returned to the Scorsese fold for 2019's The Irishman — which featured a host of the filmmaker's regular collaborators — for their first team up since 1988's The Last Temptation of Christ.

Joe Pesci | Four appearances

Original Film Title: CASINO.  English Title: CASINO.  Film Director: MARTIN SCORSESE.  Year: 1995.  Stars: MARTIN SCORSESE; ROBERT DE NIRO; JOE PESCI. Credit: UNIVERSAL PICTURES / CARUSO, PHILLIP / Album
Martin Scorsese reunited with Joe Pesci (centre) and Robert De Niro for 1995's Casino. (PA/Alamy)

Joe Pesci is another actor who has frequently collaborated with Martin Scorsese. Known for his memorable roles in films like Raging Bull and Goodfellas, Pesci's dynamic and often volatile characters have added depth and complexity to Scorsese's narratives.

His performance in 2019's The Irishman marked a return to the Scorsese fold after a lengthy acting hiatus.

Victor Argo | Five appearances

TAXI DRIVER1976 de Martin Scorsese Victor Argo (as Vic Argo). film culte; cult movie; classique scenario de Paul Schrader screenplay by Paul Schrader
Victor Argo appeared in minor roles in a number of early Scorsese films including Taxi Driver. (PA/Alamy)

Victor Argo, a talented actor, left his mark in five Martin Scorsese movies during his career, primarily in smaller roles, especially in Scorsese's early works. Despite limited screen time, some of his appearances remain unforgettable.

In Taxi Driver, he played a clerk present during Travis Bickle's first on-screen act of violence but his most significant role in a Scorsese film was that of one of Jesus' apostles, Peter, in The Last Temptation of Christ.

Harry Northup | Six appearances

TAXI DRIVER 1976 de Martin Scorsese Harry Northup Robert De Niro (as Robert DeNiro). film culte; cult movie; classique scenario de Paul Schrader scree
Harry Northup has a small role in 1976's Taxi Driver. (PA/Alamy)

Like Argo’s, Harry Northup's roles in Martin Scorsese's films tend to be brief, often spanning only a scene or two. Some of the roles he took lacked names, such as 'Soldier' in Mean Streets and 'Bartender' in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.

He appeared in the first six films directed by Scorsese, commencing with Who's That Knocking at My Door in 1967 and concluding with New York, New York in 1977.

Producers and screenwriters

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 27: Martin Scorsese and Irvin Winkler attend NYFF57 Opening Night Gala Presentation & World Premiere of
Scorsese with regular producer Irvin Winkler at a screening of 2019's The Irishman. (Getty Images)

Martin Scorsese has worked with several key individuals from the film industry across multiple projects.

While he collaborates with a wide range of talented film professionals, there are some recurring names that have been prominent in his filmmaking journey:

Producer Irwin Winkler, has been a long-time collaborator with Scorsese, producing many of his iconic films, including Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Irishman.

Marty is never afraid to do anything that's different. He has no fear.Irwin Winkler

"Marty is never afraid to do anything that's different," said Winkler. "He has no fear." in an interview with CBS News.

Scorsese said of Winkler, "I saw him work telephones and make deals, like, in 15 minutes that were amazing. If he couldn't get it done, I don't know who would."

Martin Scorsese and Barbara De Fina during
Martin Scorsese and Barbara De Fina at the 1986 The Color of Money Los Angeles Premiere. (Getty Images)

Barbara De Fina worked closely with Scorsese on numerous projects, including Casino, The Age of Innocence, and Cape Fear.

Born in New Jersey in 1949, she began working as a producer in the low-budget filmmaking industry and married Scorsese in 1985, their marriage lasted six years.

According to Vincent LoBrutto's book, Martin Scorsese: A Biography, the couple met on the set of the director's dark comedy After Hours.

Screenwriter Paul Schrader, wrote the screenplay for Taxi Driver in 1976 and Raging Bull in 1980, two of Scorsese's most celebrated films.

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08:  Directors Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese attend attend a screening of
Directors Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese in 2008. (Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

His other work include 1988's The Last Temptation of Christ, and 1999's Bringing Out the Dead.

Nicholas Pileggi collaborated with Scorsese on Goodfellas, and Casino, both of which explored the world of organised crime.

He began his career as a journalist and had a profound interest in the Mafia and is best known for his non-fiction book, Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family published in 1985, which he adapted into the movie Goodfellas.

Thelma Schoonmaker - editor

Film editor Thelma Schoonmaker holds the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 71st Venice Film Festival September 2, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (ITALY - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Film editor Thelma Schoonmaker holds the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 71st Venice Film Festival in 2014. (Reuters)

Behind the scenes, Thelma Schoonmaker has been a crucial collaborator for Scorsese. As his longtime film editor, Schoonmaker has played a pivotal role in shaping the pacing, rhythm, and emotional impact of Scorsese's films for over five decades.

Her work has earned her multiple Academy Awards, including The Aviator, for which she won an Oscar, her partnership with Scorsese is emblematic of their creative synergy.

"It's never an argument with us, I'll just present him with options," she has said of working with Scorsese,

"A lot of editors and directors do fight over movies. He trained me after all - I know what he likes and he doesn't."

Catherine Scorsese

GOODFELLAS, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Catherine Scorsese, Robert De Niro, 1990
Scorsese's mother Catherine Scorsese had a small but memorable role in 1990's Goodfellas, which also featured her spaghetti recipe in the end credits. (PA/Alamy)

In the Scorsese cinematic world, a frequent collaborator was't an actor — it was Martin Scorsese's own mother, the late Catherine Scorsese.

Though not a professional actor, she took on roles like the mother of Joe Pesci's character in Goodfellas.

“All we told her to do was just welcome her son home; she hasn’t seen him in a while,” Scorsese said of his mother as reported in the IndieWire.

Her presence on screen was also not just acting, she became part of the crew and cast, even cooking for them and watched how her son became one of America's biggest directors.

Killers of the Flower Moon is out in UK cinemas and IMAX now, with an Apple TV+ release to follow.

Read more: Martin Scorsese

Watch: Martin Scorsese says it's 'hard work' making films at 80