Martin Scorsese's Best (And Most Menancing) Acting Roles

Academy Award winning director Martin Scorsese is best known for helming productions of gritty films like Raging Bull (1980) and Goodfellas (1990). But he's also appeared on screen in a number of movies over the years. In honor of his 74th birthday, here are some of his best acting credits.

1) Mean Streets (1973)

The gritty gangster drama Mean Streets was Scorsese's breakout film as an actor and director. He literally ends the movie with a bang as the button man Jimmy Shorts, who confronts the film's leads in a car chase while raucous guitar music blares in the background.

The film also features a very young Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel (who was probably born looking middle aged).

2) Quiz Show (1994)

Robert Redford's high stakes historical drama Quiz Show exposed both the nefarious corporate interests that made executives rig the popular '50s gameshow Twenty One, and the human frailties that led to the conspiracy's undoing.

Chief among those corporate execs was Martin Rittenhome (Scorsese), the head of the show's sponsor Geritol. At times the legit businessman seems no different than the mafia characters that made Scorsese famous, especially when his character offers a warning to the naive attorney trying to expose the scandal.

"You're a bright young kind with a bright future," Scorsese says. "Watch yourself out there."

3) Shark Tale (2004)

Not all of Scorsese's characters are dark and menacing. In the DreamWorks animated feature Shark Tale, he played Sykes - a loan sharking pufferfish who keeps two Jamaican jellyfish on staff as enforcers, beating up on anyone who doesn't pay their debts.

Wait, did we say this role wasn't menacing?  


4) Taxi Driver (1976)

Robert De Niro terrified audiences with his portrayal of the disturbed cabbie Travis Bickle in the psychological thriller Taxi Driver. But for about five minutes of the film, the scariest person on screen was Scorsese himself, playing a deranged husband who wanted bloody revenge against his unfaithful wife.

And the only thing he seemed to savor more was divulging the gruesome details of his plan to Bickle.

"You must think I'm pretty sick," his character says with an unsettling chuckle. No wonder Travis became unhinged after driving passengers like that around.

Banner image: Director Martin Scorsese arrives for the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival, April 20, 2011, in New York City. (aspen rock/ 


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