After years of rumors, it is now official that director Martin Scorsese is putting the band back together: he’s finally managed to persuade Joe Pesci to reunite with his Goodfellas co-star, Robert De Niro, for the upcoming $100 million mob movie The Irishman.
It was a tough one for Scorsese. Pesci reportedly turned him down 50 times before he accepted the role, marking the fourth time that the two of them will have worked together.
The actor’s memorable portrayal of the explosive Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas, based on real-life gangster Thomas DeSimone, is so beloved, it has reached cult status, inspiring constant imitations 17 years later.
It was actually Scorsese’s long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker, winning Oscars for his films Raging Bull, The Aviator, and The Departed, who confirmed the news about Pesci accepting the role of mafioso Russell Bufalino in The Irishman.
Schoonmaker told Crave that Scorsese “wants to make more films like Silence, that are spiritual, basically, but not set in the 17th century Japan. So, hopefully, we’ll be able to make that. Not the next one–the next one is The Irishman, which is De Niro and Joe Pesci and elderly gangsters. So, that’ll be very different from Silence.”
Al Pacino reportedly accepted the invitation to the Irishman party organized by Scorsese, marking his first collaboration with the famed director. (Reportedly, Scorsese wanted Pacino for the role of Frank Costello in The Departed.) If only Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino join the crew, there is no doubt that this is going to be one for the film texts.
Scorsese already proved that he is a man for all genres, and after filming the religious epic Silence, he is about to return to a field he’s probably best known for: gangster movies. With a heart-in-your-throat pacing and scenes that defined the genre, Scorsese’s Goodfellas is not just one of his best movies, but it is also among the best gangster movies ever made by anyone.
Production is supposed to begin in August for a film that Netflix awarded a budget for of at least $100 million. Scorsese recently told the Independent that The Irishman is going to be something different: “The people are also older in The Irishman, it’s certainly more about looking back, a retrospective so to speak of a man’s life and the choices that he’s had to make.”
Similar to Goodfellas, The Irishman is based on a nonfiction book, I Heard You Paint Houses, by Charles Brandt. The book is about the notorious mobster Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who is most likely involved in the mysterious disappearance of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. He told Brandt in an interview that he took part in at least 25 hits for the mob, adding that he was the one who actually pulled the trigger on Hoffa.
The book title comes from the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Sheeran: “I heard you paint houses,” meaning I heard you kill people. (The paint is the blood that splatters all over the walls.)
What happened on July 30, 1975, when Jimmy Hoffa vanished off the face of the earth without a trace is still a matter of debate. Over the years, countless stories have popped up, but none of them definitively answered the question: Who killed Jimmy Hoffa?
De Niro has been cast as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, with Al Pacino as Hoffa. (The two went up against each other in Heat, directed by Michael Man in 1995.) Other confirmed cast besides Pesci are Ray Romano, Harvey Keitel, and Bobby Cannavale.
As for anyone wondering what The Irishman may look like, it’s safe to expect a film filled with unapologetic violence, a killer soundtrack, foul language, and characters that you love to hate. Simply put, it’s a Martin Scorsese movie. Expect the unexpected and with every frame to be wondering how did he ever get that shot.