In Hollywood, some people are either characters or character actors. Joe Pesci is the embodiment of both. Joe Pesci has had the unique ability to infuse every role with his inimitable style, often stealing the scenes. He appeared in some of the greatest Hollywood blockbusters throughout the years. Smoking big cigars to relax and stay focused is his way of life. But it’s also part of the cigar lifestyle we know and love.
The Little Big Man Likes a Big Cigar
Joe Pesci embodies the rags-to-riches story that is part of Hollywood lore. He initially went to Hollywood in the early seventies with dreams of becoming an actor. Then, in a tirade that would be typical of some of the characters he has portrayed, he was thrown out of a casting office by the producer and director, who told him never to return.
The Little Big Man Gets a Big Break
That bold attitude led Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro to notice him. Back then, Pesci was a singing waiter in a Bronx restaurant. De Niro approached him during a smoke break and later introduced the Little Big Man to Martin Scorsese. Scorsese then chose him as De Niro’s brother and manager in “Raging Bull.” It became Pesci’s breakthrough role and the first time we see him smoking big cigars on screen.
Big Cigars are not Just Hollywood Props
Watch any Joe Pesci movie; chances are, you’ll see him smoking a big cigar. In “The Public Eye,” he played a hard-nosed reporter with a cigar practically glued to his face. His quintessential role became Tommy DeVito in “Goodfellas.” Here, he enjoys cigars often and with a menacing effect.
Pesci and De Niro also enjoyed cigars on the set of “Casino.” They worked together in several films that included a legendary, well-stocked travel humidor packed with trophy Cubans available for the actors at all times. Over the years, De Niro has since given up on cigars. But Pesci continues to enjoy them frequently.
The best Supporting Actor is Smokin!
Joe Pesci has portrayed iconic roles in movies ranging from comedic relief, such as that seen in “My Cousin Vinnie” or “Home Alone,” to an intense gangster, such as his roles in “Casino,” “Goodfellas,” and “The Irishman.” Pesci’s work ethic has been as bold and intense as his real life. But that ethic paid off with a best supporting Oscar for “Goodfellas.” In a famous interview on the “David Letterman Show,” Pesci lit up a cigar on stage while talking about the movie. He did it again with Greg Kinnear on his show, and fellow cigar enthusiast Kinnear joined him.
Golf, Big Cigars, and All That Jazz
Joe Pesci came out of retirement to film “The Irishman” and reunite with Scorsese and De Niro. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. He prefers to spend his time focused on jazz and golf — two great loves that have allowed him to enjoy his third passion, big cigars. Pesci has never shied away from a big smoke, favoring enormous ringed Cubans like the Cohiba Siglo VI and the Partagas Series E Number 2.
Far from the Hollywood limelight, Pesci remains under the radar in New Jersey, where he frequents jazz lounges or golf courses with a unique humidor in his cart bag so he can share with other players. But, for a guy who made a career playing tough guys, Joe Pesci has a heart of gold.
Photo credit: “Joe Pesci—2009,” by Yausser, Wikimedia Commons license CC BY 2.0.