Martin Scorsese Tried to Make a Sinatra Biopic With DiCaprio Years Ago but Clashed With the Singer’s Family: ‘They Can’t Hold Back Certain Things’

Martin Scorsese fans might have experienced a bit of deja vu after Variety exclusively reported that a Frank Sinatra biopic is one of two films the Oscar-winning director is planning to shoot back to back. The other is a movie about Jesus, the director’s second after 1988’s “The Last Temptation of Christ.” But it’s the Sinatra biopic that has long been a white whale of sorts for Scorsese.

Per Variety’s report, Scorsese’s Sinatra movie is eyeing his longtime muse Leonardo DiCaprio to star as the crooner — and the actor’s “Don’t Look Up” co-star Jennifer Lawrence to play his second wife, the famous Hollywood actress Ava Gardner (who factored into Scorsese’s “The Aviator” and was played by Kate Beckinsale). Sony is reportedly the frontrunner to nab the project, which Scorsese once tried and failed to get off the ground several years ago.

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Back during his promotional tour for 2016’s religious drama “Silence,” Scorsese told The Toronto Sun that his longtime plans to direct DiCaprio in a Sinatra biopic had been officially scrapped due to tensions between the director and the Sinatra estate. That film started out with a script by “Field of Dreams” scribe Phil Alden Robinson and had been in development since at least 2011, when producer Scott Rudin boarded the project.

“We can’t do it!” Scorsese said at the time with “a tinge of sadness,” the Toronto Sun reported. “I think it is finally over. They [remaining members of the Sinatra clan] won’t agree to it. Open it up again and I’m there!”

“Certain things are very difficult for a family, and I totally understand,” Scorsese said, noting that his desire to explore Sinatra’s darker side did not align with the estate’s vision for the film. “But, if they expect me to be doing it, they can’t hold back certain things. The problem is that the man was so complex. Everybody is so complex — but Sinatra in particular.”

It sounds like Scorsese might encounter a similar problem as he plans to relaunch the Sinatra biopic with DiCaprio and Lawrence. The singer’s estate is run by his daughter, Tina Sinatra, who has not yet given her blessing to the film. Considering Lawrence is circling the role of Ava Gardner might be why, as Gardner broke up Sinatra’s marriage to Tina’s mother, Nancy Barbato. It appears Scorsese’s plan to shine a light on the darker side of Sinatra’s personal life and his infidelity remains unchanged so many years later.

Head over to Variety’s report to read more about Scorsese’s plans for his upcoming movies, including a Jesus movie that may reunite him with his “Silence” star Andrew Garfield.

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