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So you think I’m fat?

FANS of Joe Pesci will remember him more for his chilling "So you think I'm funny?" moment in the movie Goodfellas than his lean physique.

But when he put on 30lb for a role worth $3m, that then didn't go ahead, he filed a lawsuit against the company who he claims reneged on their deal.

The often-reclusive actor filed the suit in Los Angeles this week.

Legal papers claim that Pesci sacrificed his dignity and his personal health to gain weight for a movie about the Gambino Mafia family, in which he was to play Angelo Ruggiero, an associate of the late New York mob boss John Gotti Jnr.

"[Pesci] ended his very strict and healthy diet, and has so far gained approximately 30lb in anticipation of playing Ruggiero, who was well known for his heavy and stocky build," the lawsuit reads.

But shortly after he was cast, Pesci alleges that the movie's producers, Fiore Films, attempted to sideline him from the project.

He claims to have been moved to a more minor role than was originally agreed, and told that his fee would be reduced to $1m.

Pesci now argues that the film company used his name to attract investors to the movie Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father, but had no intention of ever honouring their original deal.

They also leveraged him for PR purposes, holding a press conference earlier this year in which he was named in an all-star cast alongside John Travolta and Al Pacino.

Fiore Films "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 the plaintiff anything for the substantial publicity and 'buzz' that was generated," the lawsuit alleges.

The film's producer, Mark Fiore, disputes that version of events, saying the actor never signed a contract and walked away from the film when its original director, Nick Cassavetes, withdrew.

Pesci has so far refused to co-operate with the replacement director, Oscar-winner Barry Levinson, he added.

"Mr Pesci is going to embarrass himself," Mr Fiore said. "If this is what Joe wants to do, we'll see him in court... He's not getting a penny from me."

Pesci (68) achieved fame and his first Oscar nomination in Martin Scorsese's 1980 film Raging Bull.

He was then in Scorsese's Goodfellas, for which he won an Oscar, Casino, and several of the Lethal Weapon films.

hnews@herald.ie


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