A mafioso-turned-snitch now going by the name Fred Blake (Robert De Niro) settles himself and his family in a sleepy, insular French village under witness protection. What could go wrong? The story is based on Tonino Benacquista’s comedic action novel Malavita, whose English translation bears the title Badfellas. Already there’s something inherently amusing about the casting of De Niro. Michelle Pfeiffer, who knows her way around a Mob movie herself, plays De Niro’s hot-tempered wife, Maggie, and Tommy Lee Jones is the federal agent desperate for the family to lie low before the Mob catches wind of them.
For De Niro, the biggest draw was getting to work with his longtime friend, French director Luc Besson, who also wrote the script. (Fun fact: The actor’s favorite Besson movie is The Professional.) ”The script made me laugh,” says De Niro. ”There’s a certain irony to Luc’s approach, which I liked. I knew that whatever we would do together would be fun.”