What happened between Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro?

June 12, 2024
4 mins read

We can’t talk about memorable on-screen performances without mentioning the marvelous actors Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. The last time we saw them together on the big screen was in 2019’s film “The Irishman”, directed by the equally outstanding Martin Scorsese.

Nonetheless, that wasn’t the first time De Niro and Pesci starred together in a movie. Since the 1980s both actors have shared the screen on memorable occasions, gaining recognition from their audiences and the Academy Awards.

Up to the premiere of “The Irishman”, Pesci and De Niro hadn’t worked together for over a decade, but was this distance caused by any issues between the pair? And where does their friendship stand nowadays? Keep watching to find out more about Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro’s careers, projects together, and some not-so-well-known but interesting facts about them.


What Happened Between Them?

In late 2019, the epic gangster drama “The Irishman” let the world see Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci working together after a long time. Though it would be tempting to think that De Niro and Pesci hadn’t worked together for so long due to personal differences, the truth is that both actors have been good friends for several decades.

The reason behind the lack of shared projects between them was related to Pesci’s extended retirement from acting, which started in the early 2010s. As De Niro told Entertainment Weekly in 2019, he had insisted on bringing Pesci to “The Irishman” for a long time, first asking the fellow actor during a Guys Movie Hall of Fame event in 2018 that they had attended in commemoration of their 1996 movie “Casino”.

The idea didn’t sound as good to Pesci, given that he answered ‘Go f— yourself’ to the proposal. Nevertheless, De Niro relentlessly insisted, asking around 40 times before Pesci acquiesced at last: ‘I said, ‘Come on, this is it, let’s do it, let’s try and do it’,’ De Niro told the Hollywood Reporter, affirming that the friendship between them and Scorsese also played an important role in Pesci’s decision.

In the end, De Niro’s efforts were worth it as his, Pesci’s, and Al Pacino’s performances were unforgettable in Scorsese’s “The Irishman”, adding another successful title to the friends’ list of shared projects.

What Other Movies Have They Been In?

Long before “The Irishman”, De Niro and Pesci were vastly acquainted with acting in highly anticipated and awarded movies together. Here’s a recount of all of them!


The first time we saw Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in a movie was in “Raging Bull”, a biographical film based on Jake LaMotta’s boxing career. The film’s director Martin Scorsese contacted Joe for the first in 1979, three years after seeing his performance in the indie film “The Death Collector” in 1976, as Scorsese affirmed in a 2020 interview.

“Raging Bull” premiered in September 1980 starring De Niro, Pesci, and other stellar actors such as Nicholas Colasanto and Cathy Moriarty. This movie also began De Niro and Pesci’s long-lasting friendship and professional relationship.

Despite mixed reviews and an initial not-so-successful box office reception, “Raging Bull” was nominated for eight Academy Awards, out of which it won Best Editing and Best Actor, giving De Niro his second Oscar while Pesci was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, and also won a Newcomer Actor Award at the British Academy Film and TelevisionAwards (BAFTA).

After finding such vast success with the film, De Niro and Pesci went on to work on other projects, before reuniting in 1984 for Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon A Time In America”, an American-Italian crime film set in the 1930s.

“Goodfellas” and De Niro’s Directing Debut

The year 1990 saw De Niro, Pesci, and Scorsese working together again, this time in the legendary crime film “Goodfellas”, based on the story of the famous mob member Henry Hill.

De Niro played the role of Jimmy Conway, a character based on the gangster James Burke, from the famous Lucchesse crime family, and Pesci played the role of Tommy DeVito, inspired by the real gangster Thomas DeSimone. Nonetheless, the character’s name was taken from Tommy DeVito, a member of the legendary rock and soul quartet The Four Seasons and a close friend of Pesci, yet any connection of DeVito with the mob is up to debate, according to Time.


Some of the most interesting facts about the actors’ performances in this movie include the improvisation of several scenes on Pesci’s side and De Niro’s choice of using real money as props. Out of the six categories the movie was nominated for, Pesci won his first Academy Award as a Best Supporting Actor.

Later in 1993, De Niro debuted as a director with the mafia-centered film “A Bronx Tale”, with Pesci doing a cameo as the character Carmine. Despite the briefness of his role, Pesci’s appearance in the film reaffirmed the bond between him and De Niro.

Late 1990s to 2000s

In 1995, Pesci and De Niro reunited again to star in “Casino”, a crime film based on the biographical book “Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas” by Nicholas Pileggi. The movie also starred Sharon Stone, and marked De Niro’s eighth and Pesci’s third respective collaborations with director Martin Scorsese.


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In “Casino”, De Niro played Sam Rothstein, a gambling handicapper and Mafia associate who takes charge of a Casino in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Pesci’s role is as Nicky Santoro, a bloodthirsty mafia man who was a close associate of Rothstein. Pesci suffered a minor accident at the film’s studio which resulted in a broken rib, similar to how he’d previously broken a rib while filming a fight scene with De Niro in “Raging Bull”.

Despite thematic similarities opf “Casino” to “Goodfellas”, the film was praised by critics and found success at the box office. A couple of years later, Pesci announced his retirement from acting but still appeared in several movies during the next decade, including the 2006 film “The Good Shepherd”, starring De Niro – the latter film only featured a cameo by Pesci, who revived his time as a fictional mobster by portraying the character Joseph Palmi.

Seeing all the success that De Niro and Pesci have found as collaborators, it’s unsurprising that the latter broke his acting hiatus to accept the role of Russell Bufalino in “The Irishman”. The movie gained numerous Academy Awards nominations, reaffirming how great a team the actors make on-screen.

Daniel Wanburg

As the Managing Editor at Net Worth Post, I lead a talented team in delivering compelling content on the lives and achievements of influential figures. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, I oversee the production of insightful biographies that resonate with our audience. My role involves not only managing the editorial process but also conducting research, crafting engaging narratives, and ensuring the accuracy and quality of our publications.

At NetWorthPost, we strive to provide our readers with in-depth profiles that offer valuable insights into the worlds of business, entertainment, and beyond. Through meticulous research and captivating storytelling, we bring to light the remarkable journeys and successes of individuals who inspire and captivate us.

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