In the 1970s, after reading Herbert Asbury’s book ‘Gangs Of New York,’ Martin Scorsese aimed to adapt it for film. But securing the finances for the $100 million project ended up being a lengthy process for him, spanning over two decades.
When production began, the director had disagreements with Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein about the film’s editing and length, causing a delay of a year in the movie’s release. As it finally premiered in 2002 with Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz in the main cast, the film received mixed reviews, with some pointing to Diaz’s performance as an unwanted aspect.
According to the Times Of San Diego, Scorsese hired Diaz upon Weinstein’s demand for a commercial actress despite wanting to have Sarah Polley as Jenny. With that in mind, Redditors and users from other platforms suggested that Diaz didn’t fit the part of a 19th-century Irish-American criminal with her ‘clean appearance’ and ‘ruined the film.’
In addition, fans of the Scorsese said that Diaz’s Irish accent was unsuccessful as it was inconsistent and felt ‘forced.’ They also criticized DiCaprio on this matter by claiming that he neither looked the part of Vallon nor gave a fitting Irish accent, although critique mostly remained on the actress.
Some users stated that these factors didn’t affect their watching experience. Still, most agreed that Jenny’s parts in the overall film were unnecessary, saying they were added to attract female audiences to a movie mainly about violent gangs, with one writing on Reddit:
“In the context and point of the movie (America was born in the streets), spending time on a massive romantic subplot was only there as a studio move to attract a female demographic. Then you learn she was paid $15 million for a role that essentially any actress could have played. It just seems dirty.”
You can check out some of the other comments on the matter here.