Martin Scorsese Once Revealed the 1 Thing That Saved Him From a Life Of Crime

Martin Scorsese has become one of the most famed directors of all time since he first gained recognition for his filmmaking back in the 1960s. Scorsese has brought dozens of films to life, but it turns out one diagnosis at a young age caused him to direct his creativity toward movies — as opposed to a life of crime.

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Martin Scorsese used his childhood as inspiration for some of his movies

Scorsese’s childhood wasn’t so different from the portrayals of youth in many of his successful movies. The director was born and raised in New York, having grown up in the Little Italy section of Manhattan. With that said, he certainly experienced some of what he brought to life in his gangster-related movies, such as “Goodfellas,” “The Irishman,” and “Gangs of New York.”

Though Scorsese didn’t grow up with involvement in the mob, he was raised in New York during a time when the mob ran the streets. In “Goodfellas,” Ray Liotta’s character, Henry Hill, referred to being a gangster as “better than being President of the United States.” And to many in 1950s New York City, this was true. It would have been easy for Scorsese to become involved in such a life, but an early diagnosis prevented him from doing so.

Martin Scorsese (center) with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio
Martin Scorsese (center) with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio | Kevin Winter/Staff

RELATED: Martin Scorsese’s Longest Films Include ‘The Irishman’, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and A Few You Forgot

Scorsese’s chronic asthma diagnosis helped steer him from a life of crime

From a young age, Scorsese was diagnosed with chronic asthma. The condition meant that he couldn’t run around with the other neighborhood kids, play sports, or go outside as often as those around him. Scorsese spent most of his life indoors, and as a result, he fell in love with film. But his wildly successful career as a director likely never would have happened if it hadn’t been for having asthma.

According to Scorsese’s longtime cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, Scorsese once revealed that he would have ended up in a life of crime if it weren’t for dealing with asthma. “[Scorsese’s] best friend was the son of the Mafia boss there,” Ballhaus once told GQ of Scorsese’s New York City childhood, according to Express. “When he was a kid, he had asthma, so he couldn’t go on the streets. He went home and watched movies on television, hours and hours.” Ballhaus added that Scorsese told him, “I probably would have been one of them,” if he hadn’t dealt with the lung condition as a child.

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Scorsese has won more than a dozen awards for his works

It’s hard to think Scorsese could have easily traveled down a different road from film directing — though the career choice certainly proved to be his calling. The director has won more than a dozen awards for his movies, such as an Academy Award for Best Director for “The Departed.” Scorsese also won several British Academy Film awards for “Goodfellas” and two Director’s Guild of America awards for his films “Goodfellas” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Scorsese’s awards even have their own Wikipedia page — he’s no stranger to wins or nominations.