The Real Reason We Don’t Hear About Joe Pesci Anymore

The Real Reason We Don’t Hear About Joe Pesci Anymore


Joe Pesci is one of the all-time great and
versatile character actors. He played Jake Lamotta’s brother and manager
in Raging Bull the psychopathic Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas, and had legendary roles in
Home Alone, My Cousin Vinny, and the Lethal Weapon franchise. Pesci was a welcome presence on the big screen
for decades who could successfully handle high drama and humor. “But I’m funny how? I mean, funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?” But lately, we haven’t heard much from the
Oscar-winner, while his talents have been sorely missed. Here are some of the reasons Joe Pesci’s been
off the radar in recent years. Early retirement In 1999, when his acting career was still
very much alive, Pesci announced he’d largely retire from the biz in order to pursue his
first love: music. Now, while a lot of actors decide to record
an album or take a role in a Broadway musical just because they can, Pesci actually has
some chops. In the ’60s, he was the guitarist for the
band Joey Dee and the Starliters, a position he vacated to a slightly better guitarist
named Jimi Hendrix. In 1968, he released an album called Little
Joe Sure Can Sing! under the stage name of Joe Ritchie. He even introduced the two musicians who’d
go on to form the Four Seasons — but then his acting career took off, and music went
on the back burner for 30 years. Pesci’s retirement came just after the release
of a bizarre LP called Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You. Something of a novelty project, the title
is derived from the name of Pesci’s My Cousin Vinny character. Guess that whole “be a good lawyer” thing
didn’t work out for ol’ Vinny, huh? Just for friends Every once in awhile, Pesci pops out of retirement
for an acting gig here and there, but there’s usually a good reason for it. For example, Pesci is still very close friends
with Robert De Niro. Over the course of four decades, they’ve starred
in a number of movies together, among which are the best of both actors’ storied careers
like Raging Bull, Casino, and Goodfellas, the latter of which netted Pesci the Academy
Award for Best Supporting Actor and what may be the shortest Oscar acceptance speech in
history. “It was my privilege. Thank you.” It’s his bond with De Niro that led to Pesci’s
only major role of note since 2000: a cameo in The Good Shepherd, the 2006 movie that
was also Robert De Niro’s directorial debut. Other than that, Pesci’s only been seen in
the 2010 brothel drama Love Ranch, which combines both boxing and the gambling scenes for which
he’s famed, and a 2011 Snickers commercial in which he played himself. “Whattya lookin at?” “I wasn’t, I mean, I’m not looking at anything.” “We’re not good enough for you. You lookin’ for something else?” Losing interest Now that we know he’s semi-retired and only
comes out of hiding for a role once in awhile, let’s talk about why. A glance at his résumé reveals very few
movies after the classic Casino was released in 1995, and what he was being offered really
couldn’t compete with his best films. Remember 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag? Or Gone Fishin’? Pesci’s last major movie was the 1998 sequel
Lethal Weapon 4, which earned him a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor
for reprising his role as the obnoxious informant Leo Getz. Those movies, and his subsequent walk away
from Hollywood, reflects a comment Pesci made to the New York Times in 1992: “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.” Besides, how could any subsequent role possibly
compete with what he’s already done? “What the f— is this? Where’s this f—ing guy gonna land, the fairway?” Gains and losses Even after Pesci retired, he was still willing
to take on a big role if it all the factors aligned. Around 2011, he was set for a major supporting
role in a film about the Gambino crime family with John Travolta attached to star as John
Gotti, and Pesci set to portray Gotti’s friend and personal “enforcer,” Angelo Ruggiero. Ruggiero was a big guy, so Pesci dutifully
gained 30 pounds for the role. Then he was reportedly dropped into a smaller
part — and offered a reduced salary. Surely, he must have had some choice words
for the execs who came to him with that. “Without me, you, personally, every f—ing
wise guy still around, will take a f—ing piece of your *beep* ass!” Pesci ultimately committed his ire to paper
and filed suit against the production company, ending in an undisclosed settlement in 2013. And the Gambino movie still hasn’t been filmed,
with or without Pesci. But that wasn’t the only legal entanglement
he’s found himself in … The ex-wife, the hitman, and the attorney Pesci was married to model-actress Claudia
Haro from 1988 to 1992, with whom he had a daughter. They must have remained on good terms, because
Haro’s acting career started after the divorce, and of the five movies she appeared in, four
were Pesci films. Pesci also stood by her side during a very
bizarre legal matter. After her split from Pesci, Haro married Hollywood
stuntman Garrett Warren. But things soured in 1999…and about a year
later, Warren was shot by a stranger at the front door of his home in Westlake Village,
California. It took years to figure out who shot him,
but some evidence uncovered in the trunk of a car in a drug bust — directions to Warren’s
house and his photograph — set police off and running, and they eventually figured out
that Haro had paid the assailant, a hitman, to kill her ex-husband. She later hired another hitman to finish the
job. During her 2012 trial, during which she was
free on $1.25 million bail, Haro brought a huge entourage to the courtroom each day,
including a nun dressed all in white…and her other ex-husband, Joe Pesci, dressed all
in black. Haro plead no contest and was sentenced to
just over 12 years in prison. While during a preliminary hearing, a witness
strongly implied that Pesci had paid for Haro’s hit against Warren. Police interviewed him and searched his property
and found him absolutely unrelated to the crime. Time for a comeback? Legal lunacy aside, there’s always a chance
Pesci might re-emerge. In the summer of 2016, he made a surprise
appearance at Spike TV’s Guys Choice Awards alongside De Niro to induct GoodFellas into
the “Guy Movie Hall of Fame.” De Niro mentioned a long-gestating movie called
The Irishman, which Martin Scorsese had been trying to get off the ground for years, but
remained stalled in part because he wanted it to star not just De Niro, but the elusive
Pesci. “That’s if Joe has any more f— left in him,
so… so far all he keeps saying is go f— yourself.” Finally, in early 2017, Netflix paid $105
million for the global rights to the film, and it’ll supposedly be available in 2019. Could this be the start of Pesci’s return? Well … maybe. “You insulted me just a little bit. Just a little bit, insulted me. You know? Just a little bit. It’s okay though, I’m used to it.” Thanks for watching! Click the Looper icon to subscribe to our
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