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Joe Pesci Joins Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’; Others In Talks

Deadline logo Deadline 7/12/2017 Anita Busch
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UPDATED with more information: Martin Scorsese is putting the band back together. Joe Pesci has officially joined Al Pacino (whose deal is currently being finalized) and Robert De Niro in Scorsese’s Jimmy Hoffa disappearance film The Irishman. We were told that Harvey Keitel and Bobby Cannavale have been talking about joining the production; they are in talks. (We regret the error as we had been told they were all in.)

The Irishman will mark the first time Pacino and Scorsese will have worked together and the first time all the Italian greats are on the big screen together. The film begins shooting next month in and around New York and will continue through December.

Pesci’s involvement comes after the actor said no multiple times (some say about 50); a deal was just sealed this week. He will portray Russell Bufalino, a Mafia boss out of Pennsylvania who has been long suspected of having a hand in the Hoffa’s disappearance. Pesci and Scorsese have done three films together.

Producers of The Irishman are expected to be Fabrica’s Gaston Pavlovich, Jane Rosenthal, Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff. Also on board: Scorsese’s longtime collaborators Ellen Lewis (casting director) and Thelma Schoonmaker (editor). The film is expected to get a small theatrical release to qualify for Oscar.

This project has been embroiled in controversy when the author of the book I Heard You Paint Houses (which is slang for a hit, ala “painting” the walls with blood) Charles Brandt penned it based on the deathbed confession of Frank ‘The Irishman” Sheeran. The hit man claimed to tell the real story of the disappearance of former Teamsters boss Hoffa. However, the account Sheeran told to Brandt has been disputed. Still, the FBI actually thought enough of Sheeran’s confession to pull up several floor boards from a house where he said he shot and killed Hoffa to look for DNA evidence. Latter the bureau said that the samples found weren’t from Hoffa.

It’s one of the coldest cases in history, but there is no statute of limitations on murder, so it remains open.

Over the years, many stories about what happened to Hoffa has sprung forth, all to be debunked one by one by one. There are a couple of men still alive whose knowledge of the event would carry weight with the FBI and who the bureau believes really does know what happened on July 30, 1975 after Hoffa got into Chuckie O’Brien’s car outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant and then disappeared. But these guys (now in their 90s) still aren’t talking.

The Hoffa kids, one still in union politics in Detroit and the other a former judge in St. Louis, are still waiting for resolution to bring their father’s remains back to bury next to their mother. They nor anyone else will likely know the full story behind his disappearance, but it is possible they will find out where their father’s remains are in their lifetimes.

Pesci is repped by longtime manager Melissa Prophet and longtime producing partner Jai Stefan.

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