Joe Pesci nearly played this iconic Disney character

Legendary actor Joe Pesci was nearly part of a Disney movie, in a voice role for an animated character you would never have guessed

Joe Pesci in Goodfellas

Legendary actor Joe Pesci is best known for his work with Martin Scorsese, having starred in some of the best movies of all time, from Goodfellas to Raging Bull, but he very nearly had a part in a Disney movie. Turns out, the veteran actor almost lent his vocal talents to an animated movie, and you would never have guessed what character it was for.

Pesci has mainly worked in the thriller movie and crime drama movie genres, using his commanding screen presence and and brilliant chemistry with other performers to bring to life some of the best characters you’re likely to see on the big screen. His most recent role came back in 2019, for the Netflix movie The Irishman, with long-time collaborator Scorsese.

One credit you won’t find on Pesci’s filmography is in the ‘90s movie Mulan, but the Italian-American star very nearly lent his vocal talents to the family movie. In an interview with Curator from 2013, Tom Bancroft, the man who created Mushu the dragon, explained how Pesci was considered to voice the loveable character.

“We were looking at Joe Pesci and Richard Dreyfuss, and Michael Eisner made the final choice, Eddie Murphy, so that kind of set everything in place,” Bancroft said. “We had a direction, and we knew what his personality was going to be—a smart aleck, a more urban kind of a character. So that was kind of the adventure that we went on for Mushu.”

Now, Eddie Murphy knocked it out the park as Mushu, there’s no question about that. The energy he brought to that character is one of the best things about the kids movie, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mushu in the Disney movie Mulan

But, can you imagine the dulcet tones of Pesci coming out of a little dragon? In the middle of the big battle in Mulan, you hear some angry Italian-American slang and turn around to see Mushu asking a soldier, “How am I funny?”

Come to think of it, that’s the kind of live-action Disney movie we would pay very good money to watch. For more animated fun, check out our list of the best Pixar movies.