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Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ Lures Joe Pesci Out of Retirement, Adds Bobby Cannavale and Harvey Keitel

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

As it turns out, rumors of Joe Pesci’s involvement in The Irishman have not been greatly exaggerated. Although Pesci’s name has been attached to reports about Martin Scorsese’s mob drama since its inception several years back, recent updates cast some serious doubt on the actor’s involvement. That changed today, as Pesci — along with Bobby Cannavale and Harvey Keitel — has officially joined the cast of The Irishman, which marks his fourth collaboration with Scorsese and Robert De Niro.

Per Deadline, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale and Harvey Keitel (what a trio) are the latest to join Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Martin Scorsese’s long-developing mob drama. The film, which is being made for Netflix, is Scorsese’s first film with Pacino, his ninth with De Niro, and his fourth with Pesci — who turned down the role something like 50 times, according to Deadline’s sources.

The film is based on the Charles Brandt book I Heard You Paint Houses, in which the author recounts the deathbed confession of mafia hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who claimed to know the true story behind Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. The notorious mob boss went missing in 1975, fueling decades of speculation, wild claims and numerous conspiracy theories.

Pesci has signed on for the role of Russell Bufalino, a Pennsylvania mob boss suspected of playing a part in the disappearance of Hoffa, played by Pacino. De Niro will play the role of Sheeran. Scorsese is reportedly employing Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX company that brought Peter Cushing back to life for Rogue One, to de-age De Niro for flashback sequences.

Scorsese will begin filming The Irishman next month, with production expected to continue through the end of the year for a 2018 release. Unlike most of their films, Netflix is giving The Irishman a limited theatrical release to qualify for the Oscars — I mean, how could they not.

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