The Many Faces of… Joe Pesci

It’s almost weekend and as you have come to expect from me it means a new installment of “The Many Faces of…”, this week starring Joe Pesci. He was born February 9, 1943 in Newark, New Jersey. He went to Belleville High School and started acting at a young age. He appeared in plays when he was five and when he was ten he appeared on the TV show Startime Kids.

He stopped acting though and became a barber in the sixties. At the same time he played in several bands and released a record under the name “Joe Ritchie” (he would release another one in 1998 on which he even rapped on the track Wise Guy). He even did a comedy act, but allegedly wasn’t very successful.

He made some small appearances on TV, but it was his small role in the movie The Death Collector which was noticed by Robert de Niro, who convinced Martin Scorcese to cast him in Raging Bull. Through the years Pesci has appeared in a lot of movies, but is best known for his roles in various gangster movies and successful franchises as the Lethal Weapon and Home Alone series. He retired from acting in 1999, but did appear in The Good Shepherd and Love Ranch.

overview roles

Click to enlarge

From left to right: Hey, Let’s Twist!, The Death Collector, Raging Bull, I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can, Eureka, Easy Money, Once Upon a Time in America, Tutti dentro, Half Nelson, Man of Fire, Moonwalker, Lethal Weapon 2, Backtrack, Betsy’s Wedding, Home Alone, The Super, JFK, My Cousin Vinny, Lethal Weapon 3, Tales From the Crypt, The Public Eye, Home Alone 2, Jimmy Hollywood, With Honors, Casino, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, Gone Fishin’, Lethal Weapon 4, The Good Shepherd, Love Ranch.

Picking a favorite is a no brainer for me, it’s his role in Goodfellas. Funny how?

What’s your favorite Joe Pesci role?

36 thoughts on “The Many Faces of… Joe Pesci

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  2. I didn’t know he actually retired from acting. For me, when I think of Pesci I think of Casino, Goodfellas and… Home Alone. Pesci’s head on fire is one of the more memorable film moments from my youth. 🙂

  3. Nice one Nostra. Gotta go with Goodfellas or Casino but I think he was great in Raging Bull as well. He played off DeNiro really well and I think it helped DeNiro’s performance also. He was such a head strong little shit.

  4. Hi, Nostra and company:

    ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino’ are Pesci’s best roles. Though I do enjoy his take on New York City photographer, Arthur ‘Weejee’ Felig. There are some things wrong with the film, but if iis a highly stylized, well executed period piece. Naturally, Barbara Hershey looks great in anything.

    Pesci, like Ernie Kovacs has a face that doesn’t look complete without a cigar stuck in it. And that gimmick works well here.

  5. Great coverage of one of the iconic character actors of the last quarter century. I particularly enjoyed the photos you compiled and the featured pic was also a good choice, warm, inviting, a chance to see maybe the real guy without all the acting masks in place. He’s a bit of a chameleon, not so much in gesture but attitude – the stuff they can’t teach you in acting school. Drop by and say hello.

    Btw, funny how he’s instantaneously recognized for his Gangsta films, a role he almost turned down in Raging Bull but De Niro pressed the introduction to Marty and the rest is history.

  6. Many faces, same performance — no matter how much I relish in the masculinity of Casino and Goodfellas, he’s operating and working the same role.

    Like Rory said, great coverage Nostra. I think it’s fair to proclaim you the winner of the Best Blogathon award next year 😀

  7. My Cousin Vinny is brilliant and one of my all time favourites. Although I like JP as an actor in most films that he has done. Goodfellas is another great performance.

  8. Mark Walker :

    Looks like I didn’t get that either. I’ll need to look into this further. Do you have a subscribe by email button anywhere?

    I don’t think Worpress has those, it’s the checkbox at the bottom “Notify me of new posts via email”. Maybe a good idea to check your Spam box? I recently had it with all the blogathon posts. Else you can go to manage subscriptions on WordPress and check the settings there…

  9. Lol, love the shout out to Little Joe Sure Can Sing, I knew it from a reference Aziz Ansari made in one of his recent stand-up specials. Now I feel the need to finally see Goodfellas…

  10. I always find it astonishing that the crazy guy who portrayed those psychotics in Scorsese’s Casino and Goodfellas is the same bumbling idiot in Home Alone! He’s a great actor!

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