Why Joe Pesci is saying no to Martin Scorsese
Joe Pesci

When Martin Scorsese’s people come calling, if you’re an actor there’s only one response to any question: yes. Unless you’re Joe Pesci, that is.

Joe Pesci has, sadly, so far declined Martin Scorsese’s offer to star in the upcoming mob thriller The Irishman.

According to Robert De Niro, Pesci replied in classic Pesci style:

“Marty and I are planning to get back together for a movie… that is if Joe has any more f***s left in him. So far all he keeps saying is ‘Go f*** yourself.’”

At first, we were confused as to why the actor was turning down star roles like this – and then we remembered who we were talking about.

Home Alone head on fire

If you think about it, the reasons behind Pesci’s refusal to reunite with his Goodfellas comrades are obvious.

He is pretty much retired

Home Alone Pesci is feathers

In the last 10 years, Joe Pesci has received acting credits for just three movies, and in the last 20 years, that number only doubles.

Six films in the last 20 years? Sounds like Joe Pesci is getting close to retirement, doesn’t it? In fairness, you’re not a million miles away from the truth.

In 1999, Pesci apparently retired from the world of acting to pursue a rap career (more on that later, don’t you worry), which led to an enormous gap in his professional movie CV.

Screen grab: The Good Shepard

Eight years later, Robert De Niro puts in a risky call to an old friend, and Pesci’s arm is twisted into surrendering a cameo in The Good Shepherd, directed by De Niro himself.

Between 2006 and the present day, Pesci has starred in Love Ranch, a small role opposite Helen Mirren, and the English version of A Warrior’s Tale, originally a Russian animated movie.

Oh, and he also managed to bag himself a Snickers advert in 2011, although the less said about that the better.

People seem to assume that Joe Pesci has “returned from retirement” or that “he’s a readied actor”, but it just isn’t the case.

It seems, as far as he is concerned, that Pesci is unofficially retired from acting, and although a Martin Scorsese gangster tale might be enough to goad most talented actors out of their hibernation, Pesci simply doesn’t have “any f***s left in him”, to paraphrase Mr. De Niro.

He clearly has bigger fish to fry

For those of you that didn’t know, as well as appearing in greats like CasinoGoodfellas, and Home Alone, just before Pesci announced his apparent retirement from acting, he released a concept album surrounding his character from My Cousin Vinny.

And to think, most people don’t know that Joe Pesci is much more than just an actor – he’s a rapper/hip-hop guru as well.

Granted, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You isn’t a fantastic album – in fact, we’d go as far to say that it bombed – but it’s release goes to show that Joe has more on his mind than playing a gangster.

Screen grab: Casino

Sure, Robert De Niro might be counting on Pesci to come out of nowhere and be the Robin to his Batman, but it doesn’t look like Pesci has any intention of playing second fiddle – or playing any fiddle at all for that matter.

He actually started his musical career long before he made his silver screen debut, thrashing lead guitar in bands Joey Dee and Starliters, so if you’re going to have a pop at Pesci’s music, remember that it was his first love.

Our point is that Pesci clearly has his own path, separate from acting, that may or may not involve rap battles, and that goes some way to explaining his seemingly obscure decision to not star in The Irishman.

“Dear slim, funny how? How am I funny?”

He’s too humble

Has anyone analysed and ruled out the possibility that Joe Pesci is simply too modest to play a vicious gangster anymore?

Many will remember his minimalistic acceptance speech at the 1991 Oscars ceremony, and when he’s away from the cameras, he seems like a genuinely down-to-earth guy.

I mean, how many other Best Supporting Actor winners do you see heaping as much praise on his co-stars as Joe Pesci does?

Casino Pesci and De Niro

Is it really so wild to assume that the Casino star is just done with playing gangsters? He’s 73 years old at the time of writing this piece, and we think there’s a good chance that Joe has left those funny guy days behind him.

And we don’t really blame him. The last thing any respectable actor wants is to be typecast, and worse than that, typecast as a gangster.

Imagine all of the incessant nagging you’d get from low budget casting agencies desperate to hire you for their “Godfather meets Scarface” wannbe projects.


So whether Pesci is choosing to project a modest persona to drive off poor professional advances, or he genuinely doubts his innate acting talent, it’s worth considering the possibility that as well as being retired and working hard on becoming a hip hop mega star (there’s still time, Joe), Pesci might simply consider himself to be done with the business.

Obviously, it’s plain as day to cinema lovers that he’s easily one of the best actors around, because it takes a really special talent to simulate having your head set on fire.


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