Aside from two minor films and an animated movie, Joe Pesci had been retired from acting since 1999 - until long-time friend and director Martin Scorsese was able to bring him back for The Irishman.
It's been over two decades since Pesci starred in a Hollywood blockbuster film, so the hype is naturally high for The Irishman - slated for a Nov. 1 release date in the United States. Pesci will portray crime boss Russell Bufalino in the film that also stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran and Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa.
So how did Scorsese and De Niro manage to convince Pesci to come aboard for one more Hollywood blockbuster film in his legendary career? Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, De Niro and Scorsese explained how they got their man.
"A lot of what I was saying was, 'Come on, who knows if we’re ever going to have this chance again?'" De Niro explained. "Let’s just do it. And he loves Marty and greatly respects him and knows that if he’s in Marty’s hands, it’s going to be okay."
Scorsese suggested that if De Niro "asks enough and he pushes enough," he can succeed in his goals. And in this case, De Niro managed to haul Pesci in. And finally, Scorsese explained that the deal was pretty much sealed once Netflix became involved in the project.
"When Netflix got into the picture — because then we had the backing," Scorsese said. "It’s not even about the money or about being compensated and appreciated for your value. It’s about the physicality of (making a film) where nobody’s giving you anything. At a certain age and physicality for the actors, it may not be worth it."
After retiring from acting, Pesci started focusing on a career in music. He would return to acting for The Good Shepherd, a 2006 film that De Niro directed. It also starred Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. Pesci also portrayed Charlie Bontempo in Love Ranch, a 2010 film that included Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren. Before coming back for The Irishman, Pesci's most recent acting role was for A Warrior's Tail, released in 2016.
Pesci has a long list of successful movie projects on his resume, and given all of his accomplishments in the industry, it only seems fitting that he'll conclude his acting career for one last blockbuster with De Niro and Scorsese.