Martin Scorsese, Lin-Manuel Miranda share stories

NEW YORK (AP) — Oscar winner Martin Scorsese is 73 and one of the world's most revered filmmakers. Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda is 35 and among the most dynamic actor-playwrights. Both are New Yorkers and Catholics who are passionate about music, history and visual art.

And their connection dates back to well before they met.

During an onstage conversation Monday night at the New Museum of Contemporary Art between the director of "GoodFellas" and "Raging Bull" and the creator of "Hamilton," Miranda explained that the road to his acclaimed hip-hop musical about early American history began with Scorsese's controversial "The Last Temptation of Christ."

Miranda was just 7 years old at the time, in a household so devout that he would pretend to stay asleep in the early morning so his "hyper, hyper Catholic" grandmother wouldn't take him to 6:30 Mass.

"I remember the whole hoopla around it," Miranda said of Scorsese's 1988 Biblical epic, attacked by some Christians for showing Christ having sexual fantasies.

Miranda eventually saw "Last Temptation," which made him more curious about the Bible and helped inspire him to take a class on the Gospels while attending Wesleyan University. He learned the Bible was "edited," that some stories written during the same era weren't included.

"In 'Hamilton,'" he explained, "There's the notion that who's telling the story is just as important as what happened."

"There's a direct line between this ('Last Temptation') and 'Hamilton,'" he concluded.

Around 150 people filled a small, simple auditorium at the museum on Manhattan's Lower East Side, walking distance from the Italian neighborhood where Scorsese grew up. The event was sponsored by the MacDowell artist colony, based in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and was moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and MacDowell board chairman Michael Chabon.

The idea, Chabon told the audience, was to simulate the MacDowell experience of getting artists from different disciplines to talk to each other and hopefully inspire each other.

Scorsese and Miranda easily connected across generations, telling stories about early experiences and influences, working in references to James Joyce, Benjamin Franklin, Caravaggio and Tin Pan Alley.

Scorsese spoke of going to movies as a boy with his father, an undemonstrative man who nevertheless shared his son's immersion in "Rear Window," ''Double Indemnity" and other classics.

"I remember cast albums," Miranda said of Broadway musicals. "My parents would cry at cast albums."

Audience members were allowed to asked questions and one told Miranda that she had seen "Hamilton" and was struck that the interactions among Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and other founders reminded her of modern "bro culture."

"It would have been worse if I had gotten Ben Franklin in there," Miranda joked. He urged the crowd to Google Franklin's essay about the virtues of men dating older women.

"It was kind of like funny and it's also kind of gross," he said.

Scorsese offered no detailed comments about "Hamilton" during the event, but at a reception that followed he told The Associated Press that the show was "such a wonderful way" of making history accessible.

"And not just history, but the story of these people and their ideas and where he came from," he said. "And making it accessible to new generations, with new forms of art."

Scorsese said he once had a similar idea for "The Gangs of New York," his 2002 drama set in the 19th century.

"In my original plan, the music was supposed to be done by the Clash," he said, adding that the timing didn't work out. "I just imagined that you could take something that might be considered anachronistic and say, 'It doesn't matter.' It's the spirit of it. That's the idea."