Joe Mantegna portraying Joey Zasa
|First appearance||The Godfather Part III|
|Last appearance||The Godfather Part III|
|Created by||Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola|
|Portrayed by||Joe Mantegna|
Joey Zasa is a fictional character and major antagonist in The Godfather Part III, portrayed by Joe Mantegna. He is based on a mix of three real Mafia members: Joseph Colombo, Joe Gallo and John Gotti.
Zasa is a longtime member of Corleone capo Peter Clemenza's regime. Following the retirement of Ritchie Nobilio, who succeeded Frank Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo) after the events of The Godfather Part II, Zasa assumes control over the Corleone family business in New York with approval from the Commission and Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). Zasa is feared and, to a certain degree, respected among his peers in the New York underworld for his business acumen and utter ruthlessness. However, his flamboyance and hunger for publicity earns Michael's displeasure, especially during the 1970s when it attracts unwanted public attention to Michael's criminal past when he is attempting to reforge his public image. Michael especially disapproves of Zasa's eagerness to enter the drug trade, and distances himself from him.
In the film
In The Godfather Part III, Zasa first appears at a reception honoring Michael. He gets into an argument with one of his soldiers, Vincent Mancini (Andy García), the illegitimate son of Michael's long-dead brother Sonny. Zasa calls Vincent a bastard in Michael's presence, prompting the enraged young man to bite Zasa's ear. Zasa subsequently hires two assassins to kill Vincent, but Vincent quickly dispatches both.
Later in the film, Zasa participates in a plot to assassinate Michael during a meeting with the various Dons in Atlantic City, New Jersey. During the meeting, Michael insults Zasa, prompting him to storm out; moments later, a helicopter containing gunmen hovers above the room and guns down nearly everyone inside. Michael escapes, but nearly every other Don is killed. The survivors make deals with Zasa.
Several days later, Michael's sister Connie (Talia Shire) gives clearance for Vincent to kill Zasa before he can take another run at Michael. Vincent assassinates Zasa in Bensonhurst during a street festival. Vincent's men and Michael's personal assassin Al Neri (disguised as members of the church procession) kill Zasa's bodyguards, while Vincent (disguised as an NYPD Mounted Patrol officer) shoots Zasa as he attempts to escape. Michael angrily disapproves of this, even though Vincent used the same rationale Michael used to kill Virgil Sollozzo 35 years earlier.
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