The real-life stepson of one of the more prominent characters in The Irishman, Chuckie O’Brien, played by Jesse Plemons, has called out Martin Scorsese and his particular portrayal of events as “high fiction” and “fake”.
In an essay entitled “How ‘The Irishman‘ Maligns My Stepfather”, Jack Goldsmith defends his now 86 year-old stepfather who, in the movies depiction, unwittingly becomes an accomplice in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa.
Goldsmith has stated that, whilst in The Irishman O’Brien is depicted as Hoffa’s loyal yet distant foster son, his relationship with the infamous labor union leader was in fact much closer to that which is portrayed between Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa.
“What Mr. Scorsese did, in effect, was to place Mr. Sheeran in Chuckie’s role in Mr. Hoffa’s life. It was Chuckie, not Mr. Sheeran, who for decades served as Mr. Hoffa’s “intimate companion, driver, bodyguard and special troubleshooter,” as the labor journalist Victor Riesel noted in the 1960s. Chuckie expected to be “tagged with the disappearance” in the movie, he told me. He did not expect Mr. Scorsese to appropriate his close relationship with Hoffa – the precious blood, sweat, tears and joy of a three-decade father-son relationship, the apex of Chuckie’s life – and give it to Mr. Sheeran for all the world to see and believe.”
Goldsmith has even likened the manipulation and changing of events to the illegal surveillance and wiretaps conducted by the F.B.I. against O’Brien back in the 1970’s. He goes onto say this about Martin Scorsese and his work on the movie.
“Mr. Scorsese has done something similar – not by listening in illegally and publishing humiliating truths, as the F.B.I. did, but by usurping Chuckie’s relationship with Mr. Hoffa, giving it to someone else and then broadcasting the untruth. The effect on Chuckie in both instances is the same. “I had no control,” he told me during our recent conversation. His control over his life, and the presentation of his life to the world, was snatched from him in ways he can never reverse.”
If that were not scathing enough, the real O’Brien has been quite maddened by his portrayal in the Netflix Original Movie, and has a few choice words for Scorsese and lead actor Robert De Niro.
“But Chuckie’s portrayal in “The Irishman” as a “dim jackass” driving Mr. Hoffa to his death made him livid. “To see this happen, it just makes me so mad,” he told me. “I’d like to get hold of that Scorsese and choke him like a chicken. And then after I get through with him, I’d grab that other pipsqueak, the guy who played the Irishman.””
The Irishman is based on the confessions of Frank Sheeran, an alleged hitman who took responsibility for murdering Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa and notorious gangster Joey Gallo. It stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, with Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jesse Plemons, and Harvey Keitel and is now available on Netflix. You can read Goldsmith’s essay at The New York Times.