Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are among the most successful director-star pairings in Hollywood history. And while their 1982 collaboration on the unsettling and increasingly relevant The King of Comedy was overlooked at the box office, it has found a groundswell of support and reexamination from Film Twitter recently. And thanks to Eyes on Cinema, we can watch how the legendary filmmaker put it all together. 

This vintage behind-the-scenes clip offers a rare, fly-on-the-wall look at how Scorsese, Jerry Lewis, and De Niro collaborated on this underrated classic. It also shows filmmaker Michael Powell on the set, the person whose films Scorsese said greatly influenced this one, which centers on the disturbed and tragic Rupert Pupkin (De Niro), an aspiring comedian obsessed with fame and his favorite TV host, played by Lewis. 

Since King of Comedy wasn’t a hit, and doesn’t have a Special Editon home entertainment release full of the bonus features it and we deserve, this 66-second clip will have to do. Thankfully, it packs in considerable insights for the production; it’s fascinating to see how Scorsese approached Pupkin’s character, right down to shaping the character’s distinct speaking pattern and walk. And any chance to watch a screen legend like Lewis via candid B-roll is always worthy of attention. 

What You Can Learn

It doesn’t matter if you’re at a De Niro or Scorsese-level in your career, you still have to work with your stars to help shape their performances to service both your vision and the intent of the story. 

Character is king, and it sounds cliche because it’s true. The more prep and character-specific traits you and your actors can make time for, the more effective the process can be in executing the project.