Joe Pesci retired from acting in 1999 after appearances in “Gone Fishing” and “Lethal Weapon 4.”
In 2017, it was announced that Pesci would come out of retirement to appear as Philadelphia-mobster Russell Bufalino in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” Since 1999, Pesci had made three appearances on screen in “The Good Shepherd,” a cameo, “Love Ranch,” a romantic comedy with Helen Mirren, and “A Warrior’s Trail,” according to the Oscar-winner’s IMDb page.
Deadline reported in 2017 that Pesci had told Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorses “No” on “The Irishman” around 50 times before finally accepting. The website said that Pesci agreed to appear after Netflix backed the movie to the tune of $160 million.
Scorsese told Entertainment Weekly about the timing of Pesci’s decision, “When Netflix got into the picture — because then we had the backing. 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.”
Pesci Was Originally Supposed to Come Out of Retirement for 2013’s Ill-Fated ‘Gotti’
Pesci had planned to come out of retirement in 2013 for a role in Kevin Connolly’s panned “Gotti” movie about New York-mobster John Gotti starring John Travolta in the lead role. Pesci was due to play Angelo Ruggiero, a Gambino-family captain, in the movie. Pesci even gained 30 pounds for the role but later ended up suing the filmmakers when the project never went ahead. The production company settled for $3 million out of court.
In 2015, Pesci opted not to appear at any of the events celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Goodfellas,” the movie that gave the New Jersey-native his only Oscar. A year later, Pesci appeared at an awards ceremony alongside De Niro. Entertainment Weekly reported at the time that Pesci was still not on board for “The Irishman.” While in 2015, Entertainment Tonight noted that Pesci was regularly seen on the golf course at various celebrity tournaments.
Pesci Said in 1992 That He Didn’t Want to Be in Movies for the Sake of it
Pesci alluded to his pickiness when it came to movie roles in a 1992 New York Times interview. Pesci told the newspaper, “I love to star in movies, but I want to have good roles. It doesn’t help to get starring roles in something that’s no good. I mean, that will just kill you.”
Since Retirement, Pesci Has Dedicated Most of His Career to Singing
Pesci is a renowned singer and guitar player, famously Pesci was replaced by Jimi Hendrix in Joey Dee and the Starlitters. In 1968, Pesci released his album, “Little Joe Sure Can Sing!” Pesci’s latest album will be released shortly after “The Irishman” is released. The album is titled, “Still Singing.”
In 2002, Pesci released an album titled, “Vincent Laguardia Gambini Sings Just for You,” an album recording in the style of Pesci’s character from the 1991 comedy, “My Cousin Vinny.” Song titles on the album included, “Take Your Love and Shove It” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.”
A year later, Pesci appeared on jazz musician Joey DeFrancesco’s album, “Falling in Love Again” on vocals under the pseudonym Joey Doggs, reported UPI at the time.
Pesci told Empire Magazine in 2012 that he turned down a role in HBO’s now-canceled racehorse show “Luck.” Pesci said he passed on the show because he wasn’t “looking for a job.”
Among those who know Pesci is disgraced comedian Louis C.K. In a 2016 interview, C.K. described Pesic as a “private guy.” While Don Rickles, who starred with Pesci in 1995’s “Casino,” said of the actor in an interview, “Joe was a good guy. I think sometimes he believed he was with the Mob. But he got over that.”