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Pesci back in gangster mode for dark comedy '8 Heads'


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  • April 17, 1997
    Web posted at: 3:20 a.m. EDT

    From Correspondent Ron Tank

    HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- The black comedy "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" may serve as a gruesome lesson to frequent flyers who don't keep careful track of their carry-on baggage.

    Joe Pesci stars as "Tommy the Bag Man," a mobster responsible for transporting human heads across country as proof of a recent mob hit. The plot really takes off when Pesci's head- filled bag gets mixed up with an identical one belonging to a fellow passenger bound for Mexico. The race against time begins as Pesci must recover the heads in order to save his own.

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  • For Pesci, playing the role of a gangster isn't new. His character research was done years ago while working in nightclubs frequented by real-life mobsters.

    "If he doesn't get the heads back by noon tomorrow, more heads are going to roll, know what I mean?" Pesci says.

    The film's ensemble cast includes newcomer Andy Comeau, playing the mixed-up bag owner; actress Kristy Swanson as his girlfriend; and Dyan Cannon and George Hamilton as his girlfriend's slightly loony parents. Actors Todd Louiso and David Spade round out the cast playing college roommates tortured by Pesci when he discovers they may be able to lead him to the bag.

    If the premise about missing heads is a stretch, imagine the folks at the other end of director Tom Schulman's telephone.

    "I called the coroner's office, spoke to an assistant and said, 'How much does a head weigh?' and he said, 'With a brain or without?'" Schulman says.

    The heads became the centerpiece of the film, but most of the actors didn't get attached to them in real life.

    "If my neck has to carry that kind of weight around, no wonder it hurts all the time," Spade philosophizes.

    "I freaked out. I asked them not to show me the heads until the scenes where I had to respond to them," Cannon says.

    "I got a lot of advice from the heads," Comeau says. "And not just about acting, but about life and about life after death."

    The moral of the story? Never lose your head.


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