Robert De Niro will play two dueling rival gangsters in the new mob movie Wise Guys, written by Goodfellas screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi and directed by Barry Levinson, MovieMaker has confirmed.
The film marks the latest gangster movie high-wire act for De Niro, who played hitman Frank Sheeran from his 20s through his 70s in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, with the aid of CGI. Scorsese directed De Niro in Goodfellas, which was produced by Irwin Winkler, who will also produce Wise Guys. In another professional reunion, Levinson directed De Niro in 1997’s Wag the Dog and the 2017 HBO film Wizard of Lies, in which De Niro played con man Bernie Madoff.
Wise Guys is similar to the title of Pileggi’s 1985 book Wiseguy, which was the basis for Goodfellas. In the new film, De Niro will play both Vito Genovese and Frank Costello, two real-life, feuding mid-20th century crime bosses.
Robert De Niro will next appear David O. Russell’s Amsterdam and in Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. His recent film Joker heavily referenced his past Scorsese films Taxi Driver and King of Comedy.
The new film also represents a return to the mob genre for Levinson, whose 1991 hit Bugsy starred Warren Beatty as the Hollywood-obsessed gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. The inherent risk-taking in De Niro playing the two leads in Wise Guys no doubt appeals to Levinson, who recently told MovieMaker for a Things I’ve Learned as Moviemaker feature: “There is some kind of excitement about not knowing where you’re going that fascinates me. It’s not a journey if you know exactly where you’re going. It becomes a journey to find something. It’s always a search, and for me, music has played a very big part in whatever I’ve been doing.”
The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news of the new project.
Main image: Robert De Niro at the Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin held at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California on September 7, 2019. Courtesy of Shutterstock.