No blood?! 'Hugo' was new territory for Martin Scorsese

Jan. 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM ET

Martin Scorsese is not known for making comedic movies. But in person, he's a complete crack-up. Just ask TODAY's Al Roker, who sat down with the veteran director behind such iconic films as "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas" -- and talked (and laughed) with him about something very different: His first for-children and first 3-D film, "Hugo" (which leads all Academy Award nominees with 11), and the joys of being an older dad.

"The material -- Brian Selznick's book 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' -- had all the elements of a story that could be enhanced by 3-D," said the filmmaker, who Roker reminded had expressed doubts a few years ago about being able to do a 3-D film. "I'm not talking about a 3-D that jumps out at you and throws spears and arrows and ping-pong balls. ... But I thought a 3-D that would enhance the story and immerse the audience into a special world ... (and the book) has that world."

A world that was surprisingly (for Scorsese) blood-free. "They kept looking at me, the crew," said Scorsese, "'What's happening?'" He told them, "Keep going men, we'll have like a train crash ... we'll do something."

He also revealed his inspiration for the film: His wife, Helen Morris, telling him to "make a film the kid could see for once" -- a line he used while accepting a Golden Globe earlier this month.

"The kid" is his 12-year-old daughter Francesca. Scorsese is 69, which makes for a big gap in their generations, but he says being an older father is all right. "It's a totally different experience (than being a younger father; Scorsese has two other daughters from his 20s and 30s)," he said. "Maybe it's more grandfatherly in a way. I became very, very immersed in her world ... how (children) perceive things, their imagination, her and her friends, so it became very natural to make a transition to a picture like this."

So, has she seen it? Several times, he reported. "She likes it. ... She says, 'Do I have to see it again?'" said Scorsese. "I said, 'Yes!' ... She's only seen it four, five times? What is this? Go, come on, sell it, you have to be there!"

"Hugo" is currently in theaters.

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