We know, we know… when you first heard there was a Raging Bull II, it sounded like a joke. Who would try to make a sequel to an acclaimed Martin Scorsese classic? With none of the original cast or filmmakers involved in the Jake LaMotta story, this had to be a quick cash grab. But William Forsythe is playing Jake LaMotta, and he reminded us there is a valid reason to continue the LaMotta story.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a direct sequel to what Martin did, but Jake wrote a second book,” Forsythe said when we spoke to him privately after a panel for his new Fox show “The Mob Doctor” at the Television Critics Association press tour. “He wrote it in ’86 [with Chris Andrews], his title Raging Bull II. It’s really a legitimate story. when I first heard about it, my first reaction was almost like all the skeptics out there.”
A major superficial difference at least between Raging Bull and Raging Bull II, besides not being directed by Scorsese, is that Bull II is in color. “It’s not in black and white,” Forsythe said. “There may be a few sequences that are. I’m still not sure about that, but straight shooting.”
There may be some overlap with the end of LaMotta’s fighting career. Forsythe confirmed a few fight scenes in his sequel too. “At age 57 I had 67 days to train because I had fighting to do as well. Not as much as in the first movie but I did have to make the transitional period. It was very challenging to do and I gave everything I could. I ran to the finish line with it. All we wanted to do was try to do something that’s decent.”
Forsythe has had a distinguished acting career himself: Raising Arizona, Out for Justice, The Devil’s Rejects and more. If there were no Robert DeNiro performance, we’d probably want to see this guy play Jake LaMotta too.
“Raging Bull was one of my favorite movies that I’ve ever seen and it was always that. The story of Jake after he was champ, the life he had, where he went from being on top of the world and his life struggles, really the various things, the courage, the heart, the out and out meanness, there are so many sides to this guy and it’s a really interesting story. But it has nothing to do really with any of the time Mr. Scorsese or any of that. It’s not the same film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s my take on Jake and our story.”
For the past four years, Forsythe has gotten to know the real LaMotta, now 90. So he didn’t just take the role as DeNiro’s successor lightly.
“I think the reason I did it ultimately at the end of the day was for the champ. I just went to his 90th birthday party and he still had a fire in his belly. He still tries, he still gets up every day. I find him inspirational. The first time I met him was four years ago. The last time I just saw him was on his 90th birthday party on July 10th. I spent as much time with him as I could once we started putting the movie together. When I met Jake for 10 minutes, I realized he had this golden heart. He had a sense of humor. He had things about him that I immediately found intriguing and I was hooked.”
But hey, keep crapping on Raging Bull II. William Forsythe can take you on. “I read all the hate press and I have to admit there’s a part of me that liked it because I understand it. I could see sitting there and almost feeling the same way, but I’m on the inside and I know it’s something legitimate.”
CraveOnline will have more on Raging Bull II after we gain 60 pounds.