John M. Heller/Getty Images; AP Photo/Evan Agostini (2)
Joe Pesci's fat and angry. And that's not a good thing.
The volatile Oscar winner is suing mad after packing on 30 pounds to play a plump part in the upcoming mob film Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father, only to see producers pull a switcheroo and offer him a much leaner role.
Now, Pesci's going to the mattresses.
In his lawsuit filed yesterday in Los Angeles, Pesci claims he was offered the role of Angelo Ruggiero, an enforcer and longtime confidant of boss John Gotti Sr., along with a $3 million paycheck.
But after Pesci joined other high-powered castmembers like John Travolta and Al Pacino (and, in a supporting role, Lindsay Lohan) to hype the project, he says producer Fiore Films pulled a fast one by offering him the smaller role of Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, a mobster who tried to kill Gotti. The lesser role came with a considerably lesser paycheck of just (we say just) $1 million.
For his part, Pesci claims his initial casting was used to garner attention for the movie and that he had an oral contract with producers for the role of Ruggiero. To add insult to possibly legal injury, he also says he broke his strict diet to gain some considerable pounds, which he now must lose to take on the new role.
"Defendant has no intention of paying Pesci $3 million or having him portray Ruggiero in the film," the lawsuit states. "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."
But Fiore Films CEO Mark Fiore denies the claims, saying that Pesci walked away before a deal was ever inked and says he may now file a countersuit because Pesci never actually signed a contract to play a role in the movie.
"He's got nothing in writing and I guess he is looking for publicity to be honest with you," Fiore tells E! News, not commenting on Pesci's claims that he had an oral agreement with the film's producers. "He certainly doesn't have a contract from us. We were moving forward. We had come to an understanding."
Besides claiming Pesci never even had a contract, Fiore further says the actor was brought into the project by former director Nick Cassavetes, who is no longer working on the movie. Fiore claims Pesci did not want to talk contract terms until the movie had a new director.
"We told him April 28 that if that is their stance, then we have to pull the offer. It's all documented," he said, adding that he's not going to allow Pesci to "push him around."
And as for Pesci munching his way to mobsterville, Fiore says he's baffled as to why.
"I don't know why he would gain 30 pounds," Fiore says. "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."
The film is supposed to begin production Jan. 3.
And here we thought Lohan would be the distraction.