Joe Pesci sues 'Gotti' filmmakers for $3 million after gaining 30 pounds for rescinded role
Joe Pesci has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the filmmakers of the Gotti family biopic, "Gotti: In The Shadow of my Father," claiming Fiore Films rescinded his part after the actor gained 30 pounds for the role.
According to the Associated Press, Pesci accused the company of using his name to gain interest in the movie, which also stars John Travolta, Al Pacino, Kelly Preston and Lindsay Lohan. The actor was slated to play Angelo Ruggiero, a Gotti enforcer and childhood friend of crime boss John Gotti Sr. The 68-year-old actor was then offered a lesser role, with a $2 million salary cut.
"Defendant has no intention of paying (Pesci) $3 million or having him portray Ruggiero in the film," the lawsuit claimed, according to the Associated Press. "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."
Fiore CEO Marc Fiore claimed that it was Pesci who left the project "months ago," refusing to appear in the film until the original director, Nick Cassavetes was replaced. Barry Levinson has since signed on to helm the biopic.
Fiore claimed the company told Pesci in April that if he refused to act under then-director Cassavetes that they would pull the offer and said he is baffled that Pesci was putting on weight for the role as the portly mobster.
"I don't know why he would gain 30 pounds," Fiore told E! Online. "I don't know who told him to gain 30 pounds. It certainly wasn't me. Why would you gain 30 pounds when you have on your manager's desk on April 28 that we pulled the offer, why would you continue to gain weight? Honestly that doesn't seem very rational."
Pesci's lawyer said no one informed Pesci of a reduced role until recently and cited his roles in mobster films like "Casino" and his Oscar-winning part in "Goodfellas" as proof that he was fully capable of portraying the Gotti advisor.
Travolta signed on for the role of mobster John Gotti Sr. in the project, which is scheduled to begin production in January.
There was also some confusion with Lohan's role in the film. The actress was originally in talks to play Gotti Sr.'s daughter Victoria, but was eventually given the role of Kim Gotti, the mob boss' daughter-in-law.
Fiore said agreements had been reached with most of the actors, including Travolta, Pacino and Preston. The filmmaker also said that he is prepared to countersue Pesci.
"He's wasting his time and everybody else's time," Fiore said. "I might be a newbie in town... This newbie is not going to get bulled around."
Pesci has appeared in two movies in the past ten years, portraying Joseph Palmi in the 2006 movie "The Good Shepherd" and starring opposite Helen Mirren in the 2010 film "Love Ranch."