“The 1991 Martin Scorsese-directed thriller Cape Fear may seem an unlikely candidate for documenting the use and influence of the King James Bible, But its central character, Max Cady, as played by Robert De Niro, wielded biblical verses like weapons.”
“Cape Fear did not offer viewers a traditional Bible story. Indeed, Cady’s use of the Bible was troubling for many audiences, and it contributed to the tension of the film. One critic observed, ‘The dissonance between the cultural expectations we associate with the Bible and our immediate perception of this character [as evil] contributes to the sustained horror of the film.'” ~Paulo Monticello, Transom Center Magazine
“The research materials from the Robert De Niro collection reveal the extent to which De Niro was involved in the development of the Pentecostal past of, and biblical influence, on Max Cady. To prepare for the role, De Niro consulted multiple bibles, a concordance, Bible study guides, Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Book of Job, and books and articles about Pentecostalism and Pentecostal worship.”
“Screenwriter Wesley Struck recalled, Every scene of Bob’s, he would call me and say, ‘Can Max say something here about vengeance, from the Bible?’ De Niro also worked closely with Scorsese and artist IIona Herman to identify Bible Verses and designs for Cady’s extensive tattoos.”
For ‘Cape Fear’ De Niro wanted to be tattooed to play the villainous Max Cady. He worked closely with Martin Scorcese and artist Ilona Herman to identify King James Bible verses and designs for Cady’s extensive tattoos. Vegetable dyes were used instead of ink on De Niro to create the “tattoos” which faded after a few months.