Joe Pesci is about to come back to the big screen for the first time in years thanks to Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, but it seems that, had he wanted to, he could have arrived a few months earlier if he had agreed to take the cameo offered to him by Zombieland: Double Tap.
It's a well known story that the cameo that end up going to Bill Murray in the original Zombieland went through numerous drafts that saw a number of celebrities appearing as zombies, or in the case of the final version, fake zombies. The same situation appears to have happened for Zombieland: Double Tap, and in fact, some of those that could have appeared in the first Zombieland made a potential appearance in the sequel scripts.
Zombieland: Double Tap co-writer Rhett Reese recently revealed to Uproxx that a scene once included in the movie, that would have seen the cast of the original Ghostbusters reunite, also would have included a cameo by the Goodfellas Academy Award winner Joe Pesci. According to Reese...
Yeah, we had a scene on a golf course where Bill Murray was playing golf with Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Harold Ramis. And the three of them were trying to convince Bill to be in Ghostbusters 3 and he was reluctant. And Bill was pissed off because, who was playing golf in the foursome ahead of him very slowly? Joe Pesci. So, Bill Murray hits the drive into Joe Pesci, basically past him. Joe Pesci is really mad, turns around, and is upset. So, they all hate Pesci.
The sequence that would have seen all the Ghostbusters actors playing golf together has been mentioned before. Director Reuben Fleischer recently told our own Reelblend podcast about the scene that was included in a very early draft of the Zombieland sequel. It seems that script was the catalyst for the rumor that Dan Aykroyd would cameo in the sequel.
That's not to say that there weren't feelers put out to try and make this scene actually happen. The other writer of Zombieland: Double Tap says that the production did reach out to Joe Pesci to see if he might be interested in showing up in the movie. It sounds like maybe a deal could have been made, if Zombieland wanted to spend a large portion of its budget on a single cameo. According to Paul Wernick...
Our producer, Gavin, reached out to his agent or manager. I can’t remember. And Joe, at that time, wasn’t acting anymore. We hadn’t seen him for a long time, so that was one strike against us. The other strike was our producer goes, “It’s kind of a small part and we’re wondering if Joe would be kind enough to read it?” And his representative sent back, “There’s no such thing as small parts, only small money.” Just one of the all time classics.
Joe Pesci basically retired from acting years ago, and so it was always going to take something special to get him to come back. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro probably didn't need to pony up quite as much cash, to get Pesci to come back for The Irishman, but anybody else was certainly going to need to make it worth the actor's while.
While a Zombieland: Double Tap cameo certainly would have been great, the actor probably made the right choice.