Robert De Niro has signed on to play one of the leads in gangster drama Wise Guys, which is in development at Warner Bros. His co-star? Robert De Niro. The legendary actor will take on a dual role in the film that will be directed by Barry Levinson, who De Niro has previously previously worked with multiple times, most notably 1997 political satire Wag The Dog.
Wise Guys will follow Italian-American crime bosses Vito Genovese and Frank Costello, who ran their respective families during the 20th century. In 1957, Genovese tried (and failed) to assassinate Costello, who was ultimately injured and attempted to retire from the mafia. De Niro will portray both characters.
Nicholas Pileggi, the co-writer of Martin Scorsese‘s Goodfellas (which also starred De Niro) is writing the screenplay. Irwin Winkler, who also produced that film, is producing here.
If you didn’t know it, you’d think it was the mid-90s. De Niro, Levinson, Pileggi, Winkler all collaborating on a gangster film will be music to the ears of film fans, and it will be fascinating to see De Niro play both lead roles in a genre he’s excelled at. He proved with Scorsese’s The Irishman a few years ago that him and the gangster genre still fit together like puzzle pieces.
It will also be exciting to see the return of Levinson to the director’s chair. Up until about the turn of the century he was a prolific and acclaimed director, helming films such as Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, and his impressive four dramas he dubbed the Baltimore Films.
He hasn’t had much success in the 21st century, and his last film was 2015 Bill Murray comedy Rock The Kasbah, but Wise Guys sounds like it has the ingredients to be a real comeback.
Not to mention that he and De Niro have worked together well before on the aforementioned Wag The Dog but also 1996’s Sleepers, 2008’s What Just Happened, and 2017 HBO movie The Wizard of Lies.
De Niro is currently working with Scorsese on Killers of the Flower Moon, a western crime drama about the 1920s Oklahoma murders that led to the birth of the FBI. That also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and will eventually be distributed by Apple.
He’ll also be seen in David O. Russell‘s star-studded period mystery Amsterdam, thriller Wash Me In The River, and comedy About My Father.
There will no doubt be more news about Wise Guys as it heads into production. Expect plenty of actors wanting to be involved in what feels like the kind of movie that’s rarely made anymore.