10. The film came about thanks to Martin Scorsese's childhood fascination
According to Martin Scorsese, his interest in New York history began when, as a child, he explored the streets of Little Italy, Manhattan and other old streets and buildings of the city. All of this fascinated him greatly.
"Gradually I realized that Italian Americans were not the first, that other people were there before us. When I started to understand it, it took me over. I kept thinking, what did New York look like? What were the people like? How did they walk, eat, work, dress?", Martin Scorsese recounted.
9. The movie is based on the 1927 book.
The first time Martin Scorsese saw the book "Gangs of New York" by Herbert Ausbury at the age of 27. Apparently he was very impressed by it, because at the age of 37 he bought the rights to it.
In the book, the author gives a very detailed account of the gangs that emerged in 19th century New York, even before the Italian Mafia got its share of notoriety in the 1920s.
8. It took Martin Scorsese 20 years to develop the film
It took Martin Scorsese two decades to develop an adaptation of Herbert Asbury's book. After releasing such films as Raging Bull and Goodfellas, the director finally signed a partnership with Miramax Films of scandalous producer Harvey Weinstein.
The film was originally scheduled to hit theaters in 2001, but after the events of 9/11 in New York, its release was delayed for a full year.
7. The film's sets were a mile and a half long
In preparation for the film, more than 1.5 kilometers of 19th century New York buildings were built in a large studio in Rome.
This included part of the East River waterfront with two full-sized sailing ships, as well as a saloon, church, casino, theater and mansion.
6. It could have been played by the Blues Brothers.
When Martin Scorsese acquired the rights to the book in the late 1970s, he wanted The Blues Brothers to play the two leads.
Originally, Scorsese wanted Dan Aykroyd to play Amsterdam Walloon, a role that went to Leonardo DiCaprio, and John Belushi to try on the image of Bill "The Butcher" instead of Daniel Day-Lewis.
5. Daniel Day-Lewis was trained by a real butcher
Actor Daniel Day-Lewis always does his best to play as convincingly as possible, so he was trained to be a butcher.
Day-Lewis was trained by two Argentine brothers as well as a professional butcher who flew in from London to the set.
4. The first editing of the film lasted almost four hours
The first editing of Gangs of New York lasted 3 hours and 38 minutes, almost an hour longer than the version that eventually appeared in theaters.
Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker created 18 different versions of the film, and each was shown to the public before settling on the final version.
Robert De Niro and Willem Dafoe left the project during the shooting phase.
Due to the ambitious scope of the film, as well as the clashes between Martin Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein, filming dragged on for three years and was accompanied by a number of delays.
These delays, which also led to a 25 percent increase in the film's budget, meant that Robert De Niro and Willem Defoe were forced to leave the project. Because of the production of Gangs of New York, the actors were in conflict with representatives of other films in which they had already agreed to star.
2. The film was nominated for 10 Oscars and won 0
"Gangs of New York" was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis' standout performance as William "The Butcher" Bill.
But the film failed to take any Oscars, losing in several categories to Roman Polanski's "The Pianist."
1. The book on which the film was based contained a number of inaccuracies
Already after the film's release, historian Tyler Anbinder discovered that Herbert Asbury's 1927 book, on which the film was based, was not as historically accurate as once thought.
Anbinder, who had access to a range of data that the book's creator could not have, wrote that apart from public drunkenness and prostitution, there was no more crime in Manhattan's Five Points neighborhood than in any other part of the city.