Next to No Country For Old Men and The Godfather movies, The Departed is one of the most violent winners for Best Picture at the Academy Awards of all time. The film is super popular, so many people know the film front to back. But there is still some behind the scenes content that fans are just learning about now, like how Matt Damon recently revealed the wild Departed rewrites Jack Nicholson pitched on set.
Some context: In one scene in the film, Jack Nicholson’s character Frank Costello is talking to a young Colin Sullivan, played by Matt Damon. Well, in the script, the flashback scene simply read: “Costello executes man kneeling in the marsh.” But Jack Nicholson thought the scene could use some punching up, so instead of it being a man shot in the back of the head, he insisted that it should be a woman instead. On the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, Matt Damon had this to say on Jack Nicholson’s new rewrites:
We’re gonna keep in this same shot, I’m not gonna add any time or money to the schedule. But I shoot her in the back of the head, and she falls over. Now, you could end the scene there, but if you keep the camera rolling, I turn to Ray and I say, ‘Geez, she fell funny.’ Now, that’s a very sinister line. It suggests that I’ve done this before. There’s a way that people fall.
The “Ray” in question is Black Widow’s Ray Winstone, who played Costello’s right hand man, Arnold “Frenchy” French. This is a very memorable moment in the movie, and if it really had just been Jack Nicholson’s character shooting a man in the back of the head, then yes, that would have been kind of boring. We’ve seen that in countless gangster movies in the past, some of them being from Scorsese himself.
That scene actually did make it into the movie. That said, would you believe that Jack Nicholson wanted to take it even further? In the same interview, Matt Damon added that Jack Nicholson also wanted to add this to the scene:
Now you could end the scene there, but if you leave the camera rolling, Ray reveals an axe that he’s holding behind his back. He’s gonna chop her up. So Ray starts to step forward. Now you could end the scene there, but if you leave the camera rolling, I say, ‘Wait, I think I wanna fuck her again.’ Now that’s a very sinister line.
You can’t see me right now, but my eyes are wide open. That “Geez, she fell funny” line is cold-blooded enough. But then adding in that little necrophilia bit there, even if it was just some black humor, is another level entirely.
The Departed is already a pretty dark film, but it’s fascinating to see that Jack Nicholson actually wanted to make it even darker. One thing I really love about Martin Scorsese’s films like The Irishman is that yeah, they’re violent, but the humor is always also there. But while interesting, I personally think that last line Jack Nicholson wanted might have been going a bit too far.
But what are your thoughts? Do you think the “I think I wanna fuck her again” line should have made it into the actual movie? Sound off in the poll below.