Joe Pesci, actor and comedian who has acted in movies like My Cousin Vinny, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, is suing Fiore Films, the makers of the biopic film on Gotti, for cutting his paycheck by $2 million and offering him a lesser role in the movie.
Pesci’s attorney Brandon Tesser contends that the makers used his name and likeness to promote the movie and attract investors. He claims that $3 million were promised to him for playing the role of Gotti’s childhood friend and advisor, Angelo Ruggiero, in the movie Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father. Now the offer stands at $1 million.
The lawsuit claims that Pesci gained 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) to play the role .
The lawsuit reads: “Defendant has no intention of paying (Pesci) $3 million or having him portray Ruggiero in the film. Rather, plaintiff secretly planned to use (Pesci's) name and likeness to promote the film and then to later concoct some pretext for terminating the contract so as to avoid paying plaintiff anything for the substantial publicity and 'buzz' that was generated."
The Fiore CEO Marc Fiore rejects the claim saying that he had proof that Joe Pesci left the project months ago. He wanted the original director of the film to be replaced. Fiore said, “"Before we had a deal, Mr Pesci walked away.” The original director, Nick Cassavetes (director of The Notebook)has been replaced by Barry Levinson (director of Bugsy, Rainman and Wag the Dog).
Joe Pesci is an Oscar-award winning actor and has acted in mobster-inspired movies like Casino and Goodfellas. He cited these roles as giving authenticity to the character he has been offered in the movie.
Joe Pesci’s name was announced at a press conference in April along with other cast members which include Al Pacino, John Travolta (he is playing Gotti Sr) and Kelly Preston.
Tesser, Pesci’s attorney, agreed that there was no written contract but he said the act of announcing Pesci’s name at a press conference and using his name for publicity was tantamount to an agreement.
Fiore on the other hand, said he may countersue the actor and he saw a tough fight ahead. "He's wasting his time and everybody else's time," he told the Associated Press. "I might be a newbie in town," he said. "This newbie is not going to get bulled around."
Pesci won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the psychopathic mobster Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas.
In 1999, Pesci announced his retirement from acting to pursue a musical career. He has released two albums and the second album was called Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You ( based on his character in My Cousin Vinny). The album is mainly jazz.
He returned to acting when he did a cameo in De Niro's 2006 film The Good Shepherd. He is the star in the 2010 brothel drama Love Ranch, alongside Helen Mirren.