Martin Scorsese's crime drama "The Irishman" is set in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Miami, but the movie will look awfully familiar to Long Islanders.
That's because the film — which has a limited theatrical release (including screenings at Broadway's Belasco Theatre) starting on Friday, Nov. 1 before streaming Nov. 27 on Netflix — was shot at roughly 10 locations in the area during 2017 and 2018. Eagle-eyed locals will be able to spot Hildebrandt's ice cream parlor in Williston Park, the Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley, a former Pathmark building in Baldwin and several other locations, even if some appear only fleetingly. (The Mineola restaurant Biscuits and Barbeque, which closed its doors for several days in preparation for filming, was ultimately never used.)
The story of hit man Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), who claims to have been involved in the 1975 disappearance of Teamsters chief Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), "The Irishman" spans more than 50 years, from 1949 through 2000, and required 117 shooting locations. According to location manager Kip Myers, Scorsese wanted to shoot almost entirely in the New York area. That meant finding places that evoked not just other states but other decades.
When asking Long Islanders to open their doors to a film crew, Myers says, it certainly helped to mention the names of Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and an out-from-retirement Joe Pesci. "You just have all these icons together in one moment," he says. "So everyone really stepped up. It was a great experience for the crew, to have the welcome mat rolled in out a way that I've never really experienced before."
Here are several Long Island locations where "The Irishman" was filmed.
LEONARD'S PALAZZO, 555 NORTHERN BLVD., GREAT NECK
Miami's famed Deauville Hotel, built in 1957, makes a brief appearance in "The Irishman" as the site of one of Hoffa's Teamster rallies. Scorsese's crew shot exterior scenes at the actual hotel but wanted to film the interior closer to home. Their choice: Leonard's Palazzo, the opulent event space in Great Neck that has hosted many a wedding and bar mitzvah.
"It was a perfect match because it was very over-the-top and it had some huge, beautiful chandeliers in the lobby," says Myers. "It also happened to have a little walkout area that looked like it could have walked out to a pool or a beach. So we had the windows and the doors open, and we essentially put a green screen out there to make it look like it was in Miami."
RODEWAY INN, 270 W. JERICHO TURNPIKE, HUNTINGTON STATION
In the film, Sheeran and mobster Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) take a road trip that requires an overnight stay at a Howard Johnson's, the iconic hotel-and-restaurant chain — nicknamed HoJo — whose distinctive orange roofs dotted America's highways during the 1960s and '70s. Myers and his crew scoured the Northeast to find a usable one but initially came up empty. Myers says Scorsese wouldn't settle for just any old hotel; it had to be a HoJo.
At last, on a Friday night at the end of a long week, says Myers, "I was going out of town and one of my staff called me. He said, 'Oh, my God, I think I found it.'"
A former HoJo, the Rodeway still had its signature orange roof. It even had the swimming pool Scorsese needed for a brief scene. Although the pool hadn't been used in years, says Myers, it was cleaned up, resurfaced and restored to working order.
"We were searching everywhere online, and this place never came up," Myers says. "Someone just had to go find it and uncover it."
PRIVATE HOMES, GREAT NECK AND ATLANTIC BEACH
Myers prefers not to give out addresses of the private houses on Long Island that served as shooting locations, but he will say that the home of Russell Bufalino is in Great Neck, while the home of crime boss Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano (Stephen Graham) is in Atlantic Beach.
The Great Neck house, according to Myers, was a find for two reasons. One, it was the rare older home whose kitchen had not been modernized. "If there's a kitchen, you almost always have to redo it to make it old again," says Myers. "This house was surprising because they had everything intact in the kitchen."
Another plus was the shrubbery outside. "If you see those bushes in front of a house, you think: 'Oh, big weird bushes — totally 1970s.' The whole neighborhood of Great Neck was awesome for that."
HARRY TAPPEN MARINA ON SHORE RD., GLENWOOD LANDING
About halfway through "The Irishman," a war breaks out between Hoffa and a union rival, Frank Fitzsimmons (Gary Basaraba). Threatening messages are sent in the usual way — namely, blowing things up. One of those things was a yacht.
The explosion took place at the Harry Tappen Marina in Hempstead Harbor in mid-October 2017. Newer boats were relocated to a different marina so as not to detract from the film's mid-1970s look. The boat marked for destruction was drained of fluids such as gas and oil to prevent water pollution. All, by the way, for a shot that lasts only a few seconds.
TOWN HALL, 1 WASHINGTON ST., HEMPSTEAD
You'll have to look closely to catch glimpses of this functional brick building, which stands in for the Teamster's offices in Washington, D.C. The crew shot outside a lesser-used entrance, which allowed the hall to remain open for business. Some filming took place briefly inside as well.
Once again citing the reputations of the filmmakers, Myers says, "The Hempstead Town Hall probably wouldn't normally have allowed filming the way they did for us. But they really went above and beyond for us."
— Additional reporting by Frank Lovece
RAY ROMANO TALKS 'THE IRISHMAN'
Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," starring Robert De Niro a real-life hit man who may have been involved in the 1975 disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, has been praised for its attention to period details. According to Ray Romano, who plays a mob-connected lawyer named Bill Bufalino, even his small role was treated as a crucial part of a larger whole.
"They don't play around," Romano says of Scorsese and his crew. "He covers every inch of this film with authenticity and detail."
Romano had worked with Scorsese before on the HBO series "Vinyl," playing a record label executive. At the time, Romano was well-established as the star of the hit sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," but Scorsese wasn't familiar with him.
"He wasn't kidding, he'd never seen the show, never even heard of me," Romano says. Later, as production on "The Irishman" ramped up, Romano says he was offered a role without even having to audition. "I think if you're on his list,” he says, “he kind of likes to use people that he knows."
Romano admits to a case of nerves on his first day of filming: A short but pivotal scene involving two screen icons, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. "I'm like, what? How did I get here?" says Romano. Though initially intimidated by the famously quiet De Niro, Romano eventually learned to relax. "I was never as afraid again as I was on that day," he says.
Romano's costume fittings, he recalls, could take up to five hours as the crew combed through the wardrobe department — "it was a floor of a factory, it was like a football field," he says — to find just the right suit. Along the same lines, he says, Scorsese sometimes shot just one page of the script — roughly one minute of movie-time — each day. "That's how dedicated he was to every single moment," Romano says.
With a time-period spanning more than 50 years, "The Irishman" required actors to play younger and older version of themselves, sometimes with make-up, sometimes with digital smoothing added later. Often, says Romano, the actors would look at each other's get-ups to gauge which age they themselves should be playing.
"After lunch one day, Al Pacino wasn't sure of what scene we were doing and what era it was," Romano recalls. "He looks and me and says, 'OK, Ray — you're wearing the fat suit?' And I said, 'No, I'm not, Al. But thanks for letting me know I should go on a diet.'" — RAFER GUZMAN