Looking for the 5 best Italian actors in mob movies? Not all of the actors who have played mobsters are among the 5 best Italian actors in mob movies. Ray Liotta, for example, in "Goodfellas" turns out not to be Italian at all. Most of the mob movie legends are Italian, however.
- Paul Sorvino. Sure, he played mob boss Paul Cicero in "Goodfellas," directed by Martin Scorsese in 1990, but he also played mob boss Eddie Valentine in "The Rocketeer" in 1991, directed by Joe Johnston. While he was considerably scarier in "Goodfellas," a scene in the cult classic "The Rocketeer" stands out as how people wish mob bosses were. He and his crew are exchanging gunfire with the police until both sides realize the Nazis are involved. With a quick visual exchange with the cops, Sorvino’s character, his gang and the police all turn their fire on the Nazis.
- John Cazale. Although Cazale only appeared in six major motion pictures, he has the distinction of being the only actor who’s entire movie career consisted of films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. His sad, pathetic character in the "Godfather" films, Fredo Corleone, ends up at the bottom of a lake because of his inadvertent betrayal of his brother Michael. When he accepts his fate and goes out in the boat with his own killer, it is one of the saddest moments in any of the three "Godfather" films.
- Joe Pesci. Nobody can act crazed and frantic like Pesci. From his “connected” role as David Ferrie in Oliver Stone’s "JFK" to his more well-known parts as Tommy DeVito in Scorsese’s "Goodfellas" in 1990 and Nicky Santoro in another Scorsese film, "Casino," from 1995, Pesci is unforgettable on film. Crazy, violent and funny sums up Pesci’s characters and makes him one of the 5 best Italian actors in mob movies.
- Robert DeNiro. DeNiro, like Pesci, always seems to have a little bit of humor in his characters, no matter how violent and psychotic they are. Even as the younger version of the Marlon Brando character Vito Corleone in "The Godfather, Part II," DeNiro showed a gentle humor, particularly after becoming a mob boss. DeNiro also played off Pesci well in "Casino"; the two characters showed a real friendship despite mob problems. When DeNiro’s estranged wife begs Pesci to kill DeNiro’s character, despite having a sexual relationship with her, he shows her disdain, insinuating there’s no way he’s going to kill his friend of many years for her.
- Al Pacino. OK, there’s really no one better than Pacino in "The Godfather," and that’s despite casting that included Brando, James Caan, Dianne Keaton and Robert Duvall. Pacino makes the audience believe that, despite growing up as a Corleone, he wants nothing to do with the mob. For all three movies, he claims he wants to get out and convinces the audience. Yet, Pacino’s scenes mark high points in Italian mob movie history. For example, when he walks back out of the bathroom to do his first mob hit or when he stands firm outside the hospital pretending to be armed to protect his father, he is totally believable. He also feels completely believable when he sends poor brother Fredo out in the boat to die in "The Godfather, Part II."