This iconic actor made a return from retirement to star in Martin Scorsese’s crime epic The Irishman after being asked numerous times. Joe Pesci, perhaps best known for his mob related roles, is a versatile actor who can frighten us, entertain us and even make us laugh. Let’s take a look at some the best roles of this actor’s career.
Joe Pesci Performances – Harry Lime – Home Alone
Home Alone isn’t near the best of his films, but Joe Pesci as the bumbling crook who messes with the wrong kid will surely bring some laughs. Along with Marv (Daniel Sterns), the Wet Bandits sure have their work cut out for them just to rob one house in the suburbs of Chicago during the Christmas Holiday. With the all the suffering that Harry goes through, Pesci brings the laughs and no matter what amount of pain he’s in, we want more.
Joe Pesci Performances – Vinny Gambini – My Cousin Vinny
A legal comedy with a southern twist and no I’m not talking about John Grisham. When his cousin is arrested in Alabama for murder, Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) comes to his aid despite having to take the Bar exam numerous times just to become a lawyer. Without the proper attire, memory of all he learned in Law School and the struggles of not getting any sleep, Vinny and his girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) have a heck of a time defending their clients from the clutches of the electric chair. It’s a world of surprise when coming from New York City to the deep south, and the laughs are more than plenty.
Joe Pesci Performances – Leo Getz – Lethal Weapon 2
What’s the worst assignment for a police officer? Having to watch over a witness especially one who talks faster than someone seeking a deal at a weekend auction. Pesci plays Leo Getz “Anything you need, Leo gets.” He’s a guy who’s a thorn in the two cops assigned to protect him. Much like the Three Stooges, Rigs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) have their hands full while chasing bad guys and dealing with that pesky little weasel named Leo. Sure, his role became more comedic as the franchise went along, but Lethal Weapon 2 introduced us to Getz and we love it. Remember, never go up to the drive-thru you know why? Well, Leo can explain better than myself.
Joey LaMotta – Raging Bull
You’ve heard the expression “Blood is thicker than water,” and that statement comes full circle in Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese’s epic tale of Jake LaMotta. Pesci plays his brother Joey and suffers the futility and punishment at the hands of his brother Jake. Jake’s self-destructive behavior leads to the brother’s relationship falling apart and it’s quite a tragedy to watch. Pesci is very good here and both him and De Niro (Jake LaMotta) brings a brotherly compassion to screen as well as the loss of one another. It’s a performance that’s quite often overlooked.
Tommy DeVito – Goodfellas
You knew this was going to be a no-brainer. Goodfellas is quite possibly the best gangster film ever made and it’s Joe Pesci that shines so brightly in this film. He’s Tommy DeVito, an explosive, volatile and brutal gangster who flies off the handle without little warning. His abrasive behavior also leads to one of the most iconic lines, “How am I funny.” That sequence in particular is very powerful and for first time viewers, it’s makes you hold your breath. Pesci would later go on to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in this film and while watching Goodfellas, Pesci stands out from the rest of the crowd in a performance that’s worth watching over and over again.