Next to Samuel L. Jackson, no other actor delivers an f-bomb with such vigor and passion as Joe Pesci. Pesci didn’t mold himself into a Hollywood wiseguy, he carved out his place with a butcher knife by playing psychos in some of the greatest mob movies of the 1980s and 90s. Pesci started his career with the 1976 gangster movie The Death Collector, and from there solidified his place as an unhinged tough guy in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America and through his work with Martin Scorsese in movies like Raging Bull and Goodfellas — the latter of which landed him an Oscar.
As great as he was at playing a homicidal maniac, his onscreen short temper also lent itself incredibly well to comedic roles. Lethal Weapon 2 helped showcase Pesci as a comedy actor and led to box office hits like My Cousin Vinny and the holiday mega hit Home Alone. Following Home Alone 2, Pesci starred in the tear-jerker drama With Honors before returning to work with Martin Scorsese and pal Robert De Niro again in 1995’s Casino. Then 1997 came along and Joe Pesci starred in 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag and Gone Fishin’, two movies so bad I’m fairly certain forcing somebody to watch them back-to-back could legally be considered a form of torture.
Pesci did one movie after 1998 — Lethal Weapon 4 — and then only reemerged for a small part in 2006’s The Good Shepard and 2010’s Love Ranch. Two movies in the last 16 years. So where the hell has Joe Pesci been hiding? Will we ever see him again? Are more Snickers commercials in his future?
Joe Pesci’s rap album and retirement
After doing his best to ruin both Danny Glover and David Spades’ careers with Gone Fishin’ and 8 Heads, something clicked in Joe Pesci’s mind and he pretty much said “f*ck it.” This resulted him releasing a rap album titled Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You in 1998. The album was a play on Pesci’s character Vincent LaGuardia Gambini from 1992’s My Cousin Vinny and was produced by hip-hop production team the Trackmasters — the same production team responsible for hits by 50 Cent, Nas, and Mary J. Blige. Unfortunately, Joe Pesci’s name could not be added to their list of platinum records, but the album did give the world this hilariously bad music video.
In 1999, Joe Pesci announced that he was retiring from acting, and for the most part, he’s stuck to his guns. Pesci followed the traditional path of retired white guys and spent most of his time hitting the links and regularly appearing in charity golf tournaments before returning for a small role in the Robert De Niro-directed drama, The Good Shepard.
De Niro may have been able to convince Pesci to come back for another movie, but the resurgence didn’t last long and the actor went back into hiding for another four years. Pesci briefly returned to acting in movies in 2010 to play a Nevada brothel owner alongside Helen Mirren for Love Ranch, but that’s all audiences have seen of Joe Pesci. Oh, except for that Snicker’s commercial he did in 2011. Not exactly Goodfellas, but Joey needed some new golf clubs.
Pesci hasn’t completely cut himself off from the entertainment industry. He’s still on good terms with Martin Scorsese, and at The Wolf of Wall Street premiere was kind enough to give Jonah Hill some advice on remaining humble. (Spoiler alert: advice from Joe Pesci involves him sticking his fingers up your ass.)
The John Gotti movie and possible Martin Scorsese project
In 2011 it was rumored that Pesci was going to follow up Love Ranch and do another movie — the much hyped biopic about New York mafia boss John Gotti. The movie was slated to include John Travolta playing the “Teflon Don” with Pesci playing one of Gotti’s henchman and Barry Levinson directing. Pesci was rumored to be putting on 30 pounds to play the role, but then the project went nowhere and he brought a $3 million lawsuit against the producers for making him eat all of those doughnuts.
Whether or not Joe Pesci ever does another gangster movie — or ANY movie really — remains to be seen, but Robert De Niro is hopeful that he and his Casino costar will work together with Martin Scorsese. De Niro told Charlie Rose in 2011 that he’s looking forward to doing a film that will also include Al Pacino based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses. The movie’s working title is The Irishman, and centers around the mafia’s relationship with the Teamsters. Wolf of Wall Street and Silence have taken up the bulk of Martin Scorsese’s time, but De Niro hinted back in February that there’s still some hope in the movie happening and that screenwriter Eric Roth might possibly be breaking it up into two films.
As for now, Joe Pesci’s IMDB remains stagnant. Here’s hoping that De Niro and Scorsese can give the reclusive actor a reason to leave the golf course, if not he can always do more candy bar commercials.