Step aside, Leonardo DiCaprio. Martin Scorsese seems to have found a new muse: Oscar, his daughter Francesca Scorsese’s aptly named miniature schnauzer.
In a playful video posted to her TikTok last week, the director — just days before the release of his latest epic, “Killers of the Flower Moon” — conducted a very important, very serious audition with Oscar.
After mentioning that he had been making films for nearly 50 years with brilliant actors — including with DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Ellen Burstyn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Margot Robbie — he said he was ready for a change.
“I need to find something that I could take further and to another level,” he tells the pup who is sitting motionless across from him on a tufted ottoman in a dimly lit study. “What that is I’m not quite sure, but I’ve heard some extraordinary things about you.”
“Oscar, show me fear,” he says. “Oscar, show me sadness, love, show me love, show me transcendence.” When the pup goes from sitting to lying, Scorsese yells out, “Brilliant! You’ve got the role.”
The tightly composed scene — which toggles between Scorsese and Oscar in a dimly lit study and tells the story from Oscar’s point of view — was imagined and directed by Francesca, an actress and filmmaker whose short dramatic film “Fish Out of Water” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, was shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and will screen at New York Film Week, which began Wednesday.
The camerawork on the TikTok post was done from a lower angle, “because Oscar’s kind of small, we thought it was so funny,” Francesca, 23, who is a graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts (which her father also attended), told The New York Times on Thursday. “Then when the reveal happens, it makes it a little bit more successful because we were actually experiencing it from Oscar’s position.”(She convinced him to lie down at the end with a piece of chicken, his favorite.)
It’s a heartwarming insight into perhaps the most famous living director when he is not behind the camera. (Martin Scorsese was amazed, she said, at the speed in which the scene was edited and available to watch.) It also might introduce Scorsese, 80, to a younger generation who may not technically be old enough to watch his most famous works like “Taxi Driver” (1976), “Cape Fear” (1991) or “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013).
It wasn’t his first appearance on Francesca’s TikTok. Amid posts that would be at home on any 23-year-old’s page — a cute video of her scrunching her nose to “You Wish” by Flyana Boss; another of her and a friend getting small tattoos and ear piercings — are several cameos of the elder Scorsese.
A few weeks ago, in a post that has been viewed more than two million times, she tested his knowledge of slang terms. He was pretty spot on explaining the meaning of “tea” (“tell all you know”) and “ick” (“thoroughly repulsed”), but thought a “sneaky link” was a “personal peccadillo.” She corrected him: “It’s like a booty call.”
They have worked together before, including on a Bleu de Chanel commercial this year with Timothée Chalamet. And Francesca says her father is eager to participate in these social media projects with her and sees value in the medium. “The people that he surrounds himself with keep him pretty young,” she said. “DiCaprio texts him and calls him the GOAT, calls him bro, you know they’re buddies.”
When she originally explained the concept for the slang video to him, she used the expression GOAT as an example. “People keep saying that to me. People keep calling me the GOAT, but I don’t know what that means,” she recalled him telling her. It stands for “greatest of all time,” she replied, to which he said, “No way! I had no idea.”
In July, she posted a compilation in appreciation of her father with the caption “He’s a certified silly goose.” The 22-second video, which has been viewed more than two million times, includes snippets of the director snuggling a tiny puppy and laughing hysterically in a tuxedo alongside De Niro and Harvey Keitel.
“Fine, I’ll watch one of his movies,” a commenter wrote. “Omg love seeing this side of him,” wrote another.
His lighthearted tone in these videos stands in contrast not only to his films, known for their haunting and violent themes, but also to some reflections he has made in his recent interviews. When GQ asked him about his own mortality in September, Scorsese said that he thought about it all the time. “I was a great collector, a great obsessive glutton for cinema and books, and now they all have to go away,” he said. “Once you know that you got to let go and you’re going to die, everything changes.”
Providing a full picture of Martin Scorsese to the public is a significant part of why his daughter incorporates him on social media and why, years ago, she encouraged him to start an Instagram account, so the public could not only see him at work but also glimpse family photos and see him with his dogs. There’s also a lesser-seen part of his life, which is his role in caring for his wife and Francesca’s mother, Helen Morris, who has Parkinson’s. “He’s a lot more private about that stuff,” Francesca said. “People would think it’s this luxurious, glitz and glamour lifestyle. But then on the other hand, he’s in and out of hospital visits with her.”
Some of that life experience was channeled into “Fish Out of Water,” her thesis film at N.Y.U., which was about a young mother who has an opportunity to reconnect with her estranged family after she is approached by her father with news of her mother’s failing health.
While Martin Scorsese first dipped a toe into social media on Instagram, it was the introduction of TikTok that has allowed Francesca to give the world another perspective on her father, she said.
“It’s really awesome to see that one of the most incredible filmmakers, he’s not just this big star that people see — I mean, he is — but he’s also a totally normal person that walks around in his pajamas, plays with his dogs and just helps his daughter with her math homework if he can,” she said. “People love seeing that side of him.”