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De Niro turns Irish gangster Sheeran

HE might be the epitome of the Italian gangster - but Robert De Niro is about to become an Irishman.

The Oscar winning star made his mark on Hollywood starring in mafia movies, and will be returning to his preferred genre alongside veteran actors Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in the upcoming film The Irishman.

The film is based on Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran, who was one of the organised crime world's most feared assassins, and told his own version of his life in Charles Brandt's 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses.

The film is being directed by legendary Hollywood hitmaker Martin Scorsese who is trying to turn it into a two-part mega flick, with Schindler's List screenwriter Steve Zaillian writing the script for it.


The adaptation would mark the ninth collaboration between DeNiro and Scorsese on the big screen, who have collaborated on hits such as GoodFellas, in which DeNiro played a Italian-Irish mobster; Raging Bull; and Taxi Driver.

And with Pacino and Pesci considering joining the team as well, it is expected to be one of the most iconic gangster films of our generation.

The Irishman would be the fourth project that De Niro, Pesci and Scorsese have worked on together, and would also be the third movie to star both De Niro and Pacino.

Although all four are considered Hollywood royalty, it marks their first collaboration together.

The Irishman's screen version is the brainchild of DeNiro and Scorsese.

DeNiro said: "We have a more ambitious idea, hopefully, to make it a two-part type of film or two films.

It's an idea that came about from [screenwriter] Eric Roth to combine these movies [into] a certain kind of biographical or semi-biographical type of Hollywood movie."


In spite of growing up in a predominantly Italian neighbourhood in Philadelphia, Sheeran was of Irish and Swedish descent, and was dubbed 'The Irishman'.

He was linked to the deaths of legendary mobsters Jimmy Hoffa and Crazy Joe Gallo for decades before his death, and he was able to give his side of the story in the book -- which is pieced together by interviews conducted with Sheeran by the author.

He dishes the dirt on a lifetime of pay-offs and explains that to 'paint a house' is the term for killing a man, in the book that became his deathbed confession.

Sheeran died in a nursing home in December 2003 -- and in 2008, Hollywood's power pair began planning the film.