by Katrina Hapner, contributing writer for Telegraph Local
This year’s award season has been very good to The Irishman and to Joe Pesci. So far, he has won Best Supporting Actor by the New York Film Critics Circle Awards for his role of Russell Bufalino, in the Martin Scorsese film. Joe Pesci’s reluctant return to acting, now has him tying with Jack Nicholson for two wins in this category for this award. The question is, will this early winning trend continue and eventually earn him another Oscar?
Currently, according to ETOnline, the top five contenders for Best Supporting Actor for an Oscar are Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Brad Pitt. The opinion seems to be Brad Pitt is the front runner. While he has an Oscar for producing 12 Years a Slave, he has never received one for acting and from all accounts it appears it is his year. Joe Pesci is also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the Critic’s Choice Awards, and the Golden Globes.
For Pesci, it has been nearly a decade since he has appeared on screen. He once again is in league with acting greats like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and director Martin Scorsese. According to Entertainment Weekly, Scorsese says he tasked Robert De Niro with the goal of getting Pesci on board for this film. Pesci’s last role was Love Ranch in 2010. Depending on who you are talking to, it is reported that Pesci turned the role down 24 to 50 times before finally accepting once Netflix became involved. De Niro reportedly tried to lure Pesci with the prospect of working with Scorsese again, saying that Pesci really “respects him and knows that if he’s in Marty’s hands, it’s going to be okay”, and it finally worked.
Unfortunately, while the Oscars claim to “honor outstanding artistic and scientific achievements in motion pictures”, the results seem to repeatedly tell a different story. It seems that the winner is often the actor who actively campaigns for themselves. With Pesci’s reluctance to even agree to work on The Irishman, it is doubtful he would throw himself into actively pursuing an award. With numerous nominations across different award committees for both himself and The Irishman, it seems to be inevitable Pesci will gain a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor nomination for an Oscar as well, and perhaps win for a second time
In the end, Pesci did agree to play mob boss Russell Bufalino. Everyone in The Irishman have given excellent performances, as one would come to expect from these movie giants. Pesci’s character is one that is not normally expected from him. The character of Russell Bufalino is a businessman, and somewhat of a father figure and counselor, but also does not hesitate to resort to ordering murders. However, this character does not have even a hint of humor in him, something that we have come to expect from Joe Pesci. This is perhaps why Pesci’s performance is such a stand-out. Being type-cast as the funny slapstick guy is reportedly why Pesci chose to semi-retire from acting. Instead, he has spent his time golfing and Jazz under the pseudonym Joe Doggs.