Martin Scorsese's The Irishman has added another member to its already-impressive cast, signing up Vinyl and The Big Sick actor Ray Romano. The gangster film is set to begin shooting in August with an expected release date in 2018.
Based on the Charles Brandt book I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman concerns a a real-life self-professed mob hitman named Frank Sheeran who shortly before his death claimed to have murdered Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa (whose disappearance remains one of the great mysteries of all-time). Sheeran also laid claim to having participated in war crimes while in the army during WWII, said he was involved in the planning of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion and claimed to have inside knowledge of JFK's assassination.
Variety reports that Ray Romano has signed on to join the all-star cast being assembled by Martin Scorsese for the film adaptation of Brandt's book, which is being produced by Netflix. Romano is set to play Bill Bufalino, a Teamsters lawyer with connections to the mob. Robert De Niro will take on the role of Frank Sheeran, marking his first appearance in a Scorsese feature film since 1995's Casino. Scorsese has also persuaded De Niro's Casino co-star Joe Pesci to come out of retirement and join the cast. Al Pacino has been cast as Jimmy Hoffa, and Harvey Keitel is also in talks to play Angelo Bruno.
Romano previously worked with Scorsese on the HBO show Vinyl, playing the record company promotions man Zak Yankovich. His appearance in The Irishman may reunite him with Vinyl co-star Bobby Cannavale, who is reportedly in talks to join Scorsese's cast. Romano can currently be seen in the hit indie film The Big Sick alongside Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan.
In speaking about The Irishman, Scorsese noted that the film will be different than his famed earlier gangster pictures Goodfellas and Casino. The biggest difference in The Irishman is that it deals with an old man looking back on his life, and will therefore have more of a "retrospective" quality in Scorsese's words. In order to realize this time-spanning vision, Scorsese has decided to use de-aging CGI on his older actors, a move that will significantly expand the movie's budget.
With its story involving an older man looking back on his life, and a cast that includes a number of one-time Scorsese regulars who have not worked with the director in many years, it's hard to not think of The Irishman as Scorsese deliberately and meaningfully gazing backward across the span of his own career. Scorsese may be getting up there in years himself, but he doesn't seem to be losing any vitality as a filmmaker, and there's no reason to think of The Irishman as some kind of swan song even if it does have the feeling of getting the band back together one last time.