Joe Pesci grilled Stephen Graham over his role in The Irishman as he was worried about an English actor playing one of his old mafia acquaintances.
Graham plays Anthony ‘Tony Pro’ Provenzano in Martin Scorsese’s new movie, which also stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
However, the Boardwalk Empire star has now shared that he found meeting Pesci to be mortifying, as the actor knew Tony Pro, who was a leading gangland figure in his home state of New Jersey, and originally had eyes on that part.
“Awkward is not the word,” Stephen told U.K. chat show host Graham Norton. “It was the first couple of days of filming, and I was told that he wanted to see me. He asked, ‘Where are you from?’ I said, ‘I’m from England, Liverpool’ and he went, ‘You’re not Italian?’ I apologised for it and he was like, ‘Okay, you’d better do this right,’ to which I said, ‘I’ll do my best.'”
Graham went on to reveal that Pesci, who plays quietly spoken gangster Russell Bufalino in the film, had coveted the role due to his connection with the top mafioso.
“‘I wanted your part,'” the star recalled Pesci telling him. “I was like, ‘But your part’s massive, you’ve got loads to do.’ And he said, ‘I knew Tony so make sure you do a good job.’ The meeting really couldn’t have got any worse!”
The British actor also revealed that the Home Alone star insisted he completely ditched his Liverpool accent during filming.
“A few days later he came up to me and said, ‘You’re doing really well, come and have some dinner,” the 46-year-old remembered. “But then he said, ‘Why are you talking like that? Why don’t you talk as your character so I can understand you?'”
The Irishman is available on Netflix now.
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