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The Departed was Martin Scorsese’s big winner, finally getting the legendary director his Oscar for Best Director. The plot-twisting crime drama, based on a Korean thriller, would also go on to win Best Picture. Here are 13 fun facts about the film’s history…
1. Martin Scorsese put the finishing touches on this film a week before its theatrical release.
2. Martin Scorsese wanted to shoot the film in Boston, where the story is set. But due to concerns on setting up production and politics, the producers chose New York City to double for Boston because of the state’s 15% tax credit. The bulk of the movie was shot in New York City while a six-week shooting schedule was split in two for Boston, shooting the first half in June and the second half in August. After the success of this film, Massachusetts created a 25% tax credit for filmmaking.
3. As research for his character’s occupation, Matt Damon worked with a Massachusetts State Police unit out of Boston. He accompanied them on routine patrols, participated in a drug raid and was taught proper police procedures like how to pat down a suspect.
4. The movie’s title does not appear until almost 18 minutes into the film.
5. According to actor Ray Winstone, he and Jack Nicholson did not get along with each other while filming.
6. Mark Wahlberg based his performance on the police officers who’d arrested him about two dozen times in his youth, and the reactions of his parents who had to come bail him out with their grocery money.
7. The scene where Frank Costello throws cocaine on hookers was one of many bizarre ideas contributed by Jack Nicholson, who also suggested wearing a strap-on for the scene with Matt Damon in the porn theater.
8. Matt Damon’s apartment does not exist. The view of the Massachusetts State House was an effect shot from the roof of Sufflolk University, which is the law school where Sullivan says he is taking night classes. Michael Ballhaus, the film’s cinematographer, evaluated the shot during preproduction.
9. At the beginning of the film Frank Costello instructs the store clerk to fill a white paper bag with various groceries for the kid Colin Sullivan, notably a couple of loaves of bread and a couple of quarts of milk. In the last scene of the film we see adult Colin Sullivan walking into his apartment with a white paper bag full of groceries, two of the items you can see in the bag during this scene are a couple of loaves of bread and a couple of quarts of milk.
10. Throughout the film, Martin Scorsese used Xs mostly shown in the background to mark characters for death; examples include shots of Costigan walking through the airport while talking to Sgt. Dignam, Queenan falling to his death (on the building’s glass windows as Queenan falls to the ground), Sullivan in his office discussing the flow of information with Costello (the X is created by the light shining through the window), and Sullivan walking into his apartment at the end (the carpet has an X design).
11. The rat at the end is completely digital.
12. Denis Leary was offered the role of Dignam in this film, but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with his television show, Rescue Me.
13. Vera Farmiga’s character is actually a composite of two from the Hong Kong original.