Way back before he appeared in The Sopranos Frank Vincent was always on hand when Martin Scorsese needed someone involved in a violent bust up.
Frank Vincent has a history of fisticuffs in Scorsese movies. As Salvi in Raging Bull he was glassed, beaten and kicked to the floor by Joe Pesci. As Billy Batts in Goodfellas, he was again beaten and kicked by Pesci before being stabbed and shot. Then as Frankie Marino in Casino he turned the tables, clubbing Pesci repeatedly before burying him alive. We spoke to him about his work on Goodfellas, and managed to refrain from telling him to go get his fuckin’ shinebox.
“When Marty [Scorsese] approached me about Goodfellas, he called me in and said that I should look at the script and decide who I wanted to play. I thought it was unbelievable, a tremendous story, and I came back to him and said I wanted to play Paulie. He said I was better off playing Billy Batts; even though it was a smaller role, he said it was a better one, and in retrospect I’ve gotten a lot of respect for it. It was hard to tell at the time how much of an impact that scene would have. It was only one day of filming, but we had a lot of coverage, there were at least five takes just to get all the camera shots covered, and there might have even been five more thrown away. It was kind of tough because I was actually suffering from the remnants of back surgery, so I wasn’t in such good physical condition. But we had a lot of laughs. And Goodfellas is probably the thing that people recognise me the most for. Which is nice if you’re complimentary about the work and you mean that. If you want to be a jerk and say something stupid then I’m not gonna be happy. But people come up to me and quote it all the time: “Go get ya shinebox.”