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Movies based on fact are often subject to criticism. There are numerous instances where those associated with the events being portrayed on film don’t agree with the filmmakers behind these projects. It recently happened with a journalist Olivia Wilde played in Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell, and Megyn Kelly said she would have made “edits” to Jay Roach’s Bombshell. Now, the stepson of a man being portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman is speaking out about the Netflix film’s inaccuracies.
Jack Goldsmith has penned a New York Times letter calling out the legendary filmmaker for the various inaccuracies in The Irishman. His stepfather is Chuckie O’Brien, who Jesse Plemons plays in the Golden Globe-nominated drama. He talks about O’Brien living a “44-year humiliation” due to untrue stories of him and his associate Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino in the 2019 film).
Jack Goldsmith, who authored the book In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth about his stepfather in 2019, says he discovered the FBI’s violation of Chuckie O’Brien’s privacy by recording him and claims Martin Scorsese has crossed the line in a similar with the release of The Irishman. In his words:
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.
Chuckie O’Brien’s stepson talks about how The Irishman looks to be the truth for many audiences who watch it and accept it as such. He talks about how contrary to the initial belief that O'Brien abducted Jimmy Hoffa through force and violence, the FBI actually has no longer suspected him of this crime for decades. Yet, since this information was not made public, he has been falsely accused in writings and films for years. Goldsmith continued with the following:
These movies depart in significant ways from Chuckie’s life, but none was as painful for him to watch as The Irishman. Chuckie has grown resigned to the lies about his life over the years. ‘Mr. Hoffa always taught me, you can’t change what they print,’ he told me. ‘Put it on the side and keep going forward.” This is easier said than done, he also acknowledged. ‘It hurts, a lot, because you’re in the ring and getting the snot kicked out of you and you cannot fight back.’
Jack Goldsmith talked about how his stepfather has been dreading the release of Martin Scorsese’s recent (last?) film, but it “turned out to be worse than he feared.” Chuckie O’Brien called the over-three-hour movie ”one of the greatest fake movies I ever saw.” He notably cites the close relationship between Hoffa and “The Irishman” Frank Sheeran (played by Robert De Niro) as not being nearly as close as the movie makes them out to be.
Chuckie O'Brien says he’s the person who served as an “intimate companion, driver, bodyguard and special troubleshooter” to Hoffa instead of Frank Sheeran. Chuckie asserts that he’d like to choke Martin Scorsese “like a chicken” and grab “that other pipsqueak” – referring to Robert De Niro. His stepson clarifies it’s not an actual threat. Yet, it certainly shows the 86-year-old man’s fury.
The Irishman is currently streaming on Netflix. Check out our accuracy fact check of the film.