Robert De Niro insisted Martin Scorsese made The Irishman and cast Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.

The three-and-a-half hour-long gangster drama is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses and follows the true story of mob hitman Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran, who was allegedly involved in the 1975 disappearance of notorious union boss Jimmy Hoffa.

De Niro plays Sheeran, while Pacino plays Hoffa, with Pesci back on the big screen after a nine-year break to play mobster Russell Bufalino in the Netflix epic.

In an interview with GQ magazine, the Oscar winner revealed that after he read I Heard You Paint Houses, he immediately spoke to his frequent collaborator Scorsese.

"And then I said to Marty, we have to do this. I said, ‘Marty, Joe plays Russell. Al plays Hoffa," De Niro said. "I was very happy to get us all together, to have us all together and do probably our last movie together."

Due to the film taking place over more than 50 years, the Hollywood veteran confessed that he and Scorsese looked at getting in other actors to play the younger versions of Sheeran, Hoffa and Bufalino.

“We talked about lots of stuff, you know? Getting younger actors in and so on," he added.

However, Scorsese decided to go with high-tech CGI which could digitally de-age the actors in post-production, and settled on Netflix to finance the project, which had a budget of around $100 million (£81 million).

The Irishman is in cinemas now for a short theatrical run and will debut on the streaming service on 27 November, in order to ensure that the movie is eligible for awards season.

And De Niro isn't fazed by the prospect of more people watching the film at home than in the cinema.

“I’m aware of that. What I’m happy about is that we got to make the movie the way we wanted and we got the money to do so," he shared, before confessing that he wasn't even a Netflix subscriber.