Joe Pesci Had To Be Coaxed Into Returning To Acting For The Irishman

Joe Pesci in The Irishman

Although Joe Pesci has left his mark on the Hollywood landscape through movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas and three Lethal Weapon installments, ever since the actor announced his retirement in 1999, he’s only appeared sporadically on the big screen. But this fall marks his biggest emergence from retirement yet, as he reunited with Robert de Niro and director Martin Scorsese for Netflix’s The Irishman, though it took some coaxing to bring him aboard.

Actress Kathrine Narducci, who plays Carrie Bufalino in The Irishman, recently recalled Joe Pesci telling her how persistent Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese were in convincing Pesci to participate in the project. In Narducci’s words:

Yes, he was funny. He said, ‘I hung up on Marty five times. Then Bob called me; I hung up on him three times! Then everybody was calling me and I hung up on everybody.’ Then, finally, he said yes.

Kathrine Narducci, who’s no stranger to mob stories through such work as A Bronx Tale and The Sopranos, was asked by Fox News if Joe Pesci talked to her about why he agreed to appearing in The Irishman, resulting in her recalling the above, blunt explanation. I guess we should be glad that Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and everyone else involved kept bugging Pesci over the phone, otherwise they would’ve had to find someone else to fill his role.

Joe Pesci hasn’t collaborated with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro since 1995’s Casino, which also starred Sharon Stone and earned various accolades. The fact that we’re getting the three of them together again after more than two decades is a big deal, and if this is going to be the last time they all work together professionally, fingers crossed The Irishman is as excellent as the early reviews claim it is.

In between his retirement announcement and now, Joe Pesci’s most prominent appearance was cameoing in 2006’s The Good Shepherd, which Robert De Niro directed and starred in. Pesci also appeared in 2010’s Love Ranch and provided his voice for 2015’s A Warrior’s Tail.

Joe Pesci appears in The Irishman as Russell Bufalino, the husband of Kathrine Narducci’s Carrie and who Robert De Niro’s Frank “The Irishman” Sheehan works for. This Netflix release (which was originally going to be distributed by Paramount Pictures) will chronicle Sheeran’s journey as a World War II veteran who becomes a hitman for the mob, with particular attention being focused on his involvement in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino.

Digital de-aging was applied to Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino for The Irishman, which is the main reason why the budget rose as high as it did. The three-hour-long movie also stars Bobby Cannavale, Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham, Domenick Lombardozzi, Ray Romano and Sebastian Maniscalco, among many others.

The Irishman held its world premiere at the New York Film Festival late last month and will have a limited theatrical release starting November 1, although it will not play at any theaters owned by AMC, Cinemark, Regal or Cineplex. It will then drop on Netflix November 27.

You can keep track of when the rest of this year’s big screen releases will arrive with our handy schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.