Joe Pesci - Rotten Tomatoes

Joe Pesci



A consummate character actor, Joe Pesci rose to success on the strength of a series of Martin Scorsese films which took full advantage of his gift for outlandishly menacing supporting performances. Born February 9, 1943, in Newark, NJ, Pesci was a child actor who began his radio career at the age of four. Broadway beckoned just a year later, and by 1953 he was a regular on the television variety program Star Time Kids. His acting career stalled during his teen years, however, and by the mid-'60s, he mounted a musical career under the name Joe Ritchie, recording an LP titled Little Joe Sure Can Sing and later playing guitar in the pop band Joey Dee & the Starliters. He also formed a vaudeville-style nightclub comedy act with Frank Vincent. Outside of 1961's Hey, Let's Twist!, Pesci did not appear in films prior to the little-seen 1975 feature The Death Collector; the film earned virtually no notice upon its release and he dropped out of acting, dejectedly returning to New York to run an Italian restaurant.

While few people saw The Death Collector, one of those who did was actor Robert De Niro, who was so impressed by Pesci's performance that he brought the film to the attention of Scorsese, who cast Pesci in his 1980 masterpiece Raging Bull. The performance earned Pesci an Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category, and he became one of the busiest character actors in the business, steadily appearing in films ranging from the 1983 Rodney Dangerfield comedy Easy Money to the 1984 Sergio Leone epic Once Upon a Time in America. After starring in a failed 1985 sitcom, Half Nelson, Pesci's onscreen visibility diminished, and over the next four years he appeared in only one film, 1987's Man on Fire. In 1989, however, he co-starred opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the hit Lethal Weapon 2, a performance which put his talent for comic relief to such fine use that he later reappeared in the third chapter of the franchise, issued in 1992.

By that point, Pesci had already become a star; 1990 was his breakthrough year, as he appeared in the family comedy blockbuster Home Alone and Scorsese's brilliant GoodFellas, winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his vivid portrayal of a psychotic mobster. While his first major starring role in 1991's The Super proved disastrous, he won good notices for his supporting turn in Oliver Stone's JFK and in 1992 starred in the hit courtroom comedy My Cousin Vinny. Later, following the disappointment of 1994's Jimmy Hollywood and With Honors, he reunited with Scorsese and De Niro for the 1995 epic Casino, essaying a variation on his GoodFellas character. However, a pair of poorly received 1997 comedies -- Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag and Gone Fishin' -- again called Pesci's capabilities as a lead actor into question. He found more success reprising his supporting role in Lethal Weapon 4, released in 1998. On the heels of his second outing with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, however, the popular character actor disappeared from the big screen for nearly a decade. It took his old friend DeNiro to get him back in front of the camera for the CIA thriller The Good Shepherd (2006), with the four year gap between that film and Pesci's next film Love Ranch hinting that the aging screen veterean was in no hurry to jump back into the fray. But the window between films seemed to start shrinking when it was announced that Pesci would be returning to the world of crime cinema in director Geo Santini's 2012 gangster drama The Irishman.

Photos

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
12% Love Ranch
  • Charlie Bontempo
2010
No Score Yet Rule of the Gun
  • Actor
2007
54% The Good Shepherd
  • Joseph Palmi
2006
57% A Galaxy Far, Far Away
  • Actor
2001
52% Lethal Weapon 4
  • Leo
1998
4% Gone Fishin'
  • Joe Waters
1997
11% 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag
  • Tommy Spinelli
1997
80% Casino
  • Nicky Santoro
1995
17% With Honors
  • Simon
1994
14% Jimmy Hollywood
  • Jimmy Alto
1994
96% A Bronx Tale
  • Carmine
1993
24% Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  • Harry
1992
64% The Public Eye
  • Leon `Bernzy' Bernstein
1992
56% Lethal Weapon 3
  • Leo Getz
1992
85% My Cousin Vinny
  • Vinny Gambini
1992
84% JFK
  • David Ferrie
1991
0% The Super
  • Louie Kritski
1991
50% Backtrack
  • Leo Carelli
1990
55% Home Alone
  • Harry
1990
96% GoodFellas
  • Tommy DeVito
1990
50% Betsy's Wedding
  • Oscar Henner
1990
83% Lethal Weapon 2
  • Leo Getz
1989
No Score Yet Michael Jackson - Moonwalker
  • Actor
1988
No Score Yet The Legendary Life of Ernest Hemingway
  • Actor
1988
No Score Yet Man on Fire
  • David
1987
No Score Yet Eureka
  • Mayakofsky
1984
89% Once Upon a Time in America
  • Frankie
1984
No Score Yet Tutti Dentro
  • Actor
1984
56% Easy Money
  • Nicky Cerone
1983
No Score Yet Dear Mr. Wonderful (Ruby's Dream)
  • Ruby Dennis
1982
No Score Yet I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can
  • Roger
1982
97% Raging Bull
  • Joey
1980
No Score Yet Family Enforcer
  • Actor
1976
No Score Yet Mobs and Mayhem
  • Actor
1955
No Score Yet Mob Movies
  • Actor
1955
No Score Yet Mob
  • Actor
1937

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
No Score Yet Saturday Night Live
1975
  • Guest

Quotes from Joe Pesci's Characters