He has not yet won an Oscar, but director Martin Scorsese has earned another Hollywood honor, a star-shaped plaque on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. The movie director joins top names in entertainment with a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and in just a few weeks, will compete for an Oscar.
Johnny Grant, an entertainer known as the honorary mayor of Hollywood, handed the director a two page proclamation from Los Angeles city officials. "I'm going to present this to you, and as the ceremonial mayor of Hollywood, I hereby proclaim this Martin Scorsese Day in Hollywood," he said.
As the star shaped plaque was unveiled, Martin Scorsese joined classic directors like D. W. Griffith and stars like Charlie Chaplin who are honored along this popular tourist route.
The director says he first came to Hollywood in 1966 to pay homage to the giants of movie-making. He said his first stop was the Walk of Fame, which enshrines the names of Hollywood producers, directors and stars. "Many of these names loom larger than life. There are people here who actually created the grammar, the language of cinema," he says. "So many pioneers, and they built an industry out of an adventure. They made Hollywood what it was and what it is now."
The actor Joe Pesci and actress Sharon Stone were there to congratulate the director. They co-starred with Robert DeNiro in the 1995 Scorsese film Casino. Like many of his pictures, it dealt with a gritty theme, in this case Las Vegas mobsters. The actress says the director is demanding, and gets the best from performers. "You reach a level that is better than the best that you ever thought that you could be. "Thank you" is a small thing to say to you because you find a place in yourself that you, that you never could go," she said. "Of course, you're pummeled to pieces when it's over, but you're glad to have done that."
The actress says the director probably doesn't know it, but actors refer to him, in whispers, as the pope of film-making.
Martin Scorsese recalled his days growing up in a tough Italian-American neighborhood of New York, and his later time as film student at New York University, when success in Hollywood seemed a far-off dream. He said his parents were skeptical, but supported him anyway. "Coming from the neighborhoods we came from, to tell your parents that you're going to make movies in Hollywood, it's something unreasonable. It's impossible to understand. And one night I heard them talking, we were only in two-and-a-half rooms and I could hear everything going on, and I heard my mother tell my father, "I think he's crazy. Maybe there's something wrong with him," he said. "But hey, they gave him two awards at school. Maybe there's something there."
The director recalled that he and an actor-friend, Harvey Keitel, once shared an apartment not far from this corner of Hollywood Boulevard.
But he moved back to New York, a city whose urban landscape inspired his films Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Goodfellas.
After receiving numerous honors, including a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute, the director is nominated for an Oscar for his historical epic Gangs of New York. Until now, Hollywood's top honor has eluded him despite five nominations, but he said it doesn't matter. "The old days are gone. I mean, whether you deserved it for the films you made in the 1970s or 90s, I don't know," he said. "So, in a sense I've gotten along all these years without it, and feeling pretty good about the work that I did, I think. And so, if it were to come now, that would be really something very special."
In a way, the director says, he's glad he did not receive an Oscar when he was young, when he says it might have gone to his head.
The Academy Awards, including that for best director, will be presented on March 23 in Hollywood's Kodak Theater, directly behind Martin Scorsese's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.