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Why Joe Pesci Was The Perfect Actor For Gangster Movies

In the world of gangster movies, there's your Al Pacino's and your Robert De Niro's. However, there's also Joe Pesci. This highly underrated actor, whose personality is bigger than his body, was one of the best thespians onscreen. He can shoot you out cold-blooded and you'd still love him. He'd cuss you out for being a little s**t and you'd be begging for more. 

He was the quintessential gangster, arguably even more so than Pacino and De Niro. But what about him made him so perfect for the movie genre? These movies might give a clue! 

He was Tough

To be a gangster, you gotta be tough. That's just the way it is! If you don't know how to at least act tough, you're likely the first person to get shot in a gangster movie. Now Joe Pesci, on the other hand, he was tough. He was the toughest motherf**cker ever onscreen. He'd beat the living s**t out of people twice his size, just like the cowboy he beat up with a telephone in "Casino". He was arguably his toughest in this film than in any other. 

He Knew How to Build Tension

Some of the best parts about gangster films are when there's tension. You never know who's gonna kill who in the next shot, and the build-up keeps you at the edge of your seat. No one did this better than Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas". That iconic scene of him asking Ray Liotta's 'Henry' why he thought he was funny was one of the most tensed scenes ever put on film. And what's even better is that most of it were improvised by the actor himself! 

He Had His Charms

Though he didn't play a gangster in "My Cousin Vinny," his performance here was also a masterclass on gangster acting. Apart from acting tough, gangsters also have to act charming. How else are they going to get the goods? Seal the deal with the boss and whatnot? As an unconventional lawyer who was desperate to win a case, Pesci's 'Vinny' charmed the jury and the audiences with his unorthodox courtroom antics. Who could forget that red suit? Simply the best! 


He Was Always Sketchy

Gangsters are sketchy. You never know where you sit with them, and that's part of their schtick. One moment you might be living it up like their brother, the next, they're doing you in from the back of the car. Pesci always knew how to seem sketchy. He was arguably his sketchiest in "Lethal Weapon" as the obnoxious witness 'Leo Getz.' He was so polarizing and such a pain in the a** that you weren't sure whether he was the witness or the actual culprit! 


There’ll never be an actor quite like Joe Pesci. Sure, he sort of played just one character in all of his movies, but it was one that he played so damn well, he eventually won an Oscar for it. Thank God we’ll be getting more of him with an upcoming Martin Scorcese film, “The Irishman.” 


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