Martin Scorsese Recalls Exact Moment He Knew He Wanted Ray Liotta In Goodfellas

Jess Hardiman

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Martin Scorsese Recalls Exact Moment He Knew He Wanted Ray Liotta In Goodfellas

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Martin Scorsese has recalled the exact moment he knew he wanted Ray Liotta to star in Goodfellas, having written a poignant tribute to the late star in the wake of his death. 

Last month, it emerged that Liotta had died at the age of 67 having passed away in his sleep in the Dominican Republic while filming Dangerous Waters

After the news broke, many of his former colleagues celebrated the career of their friend, with Lorraine Bracco – who played Liotta’s wife in Goodfellas – saying she felt ‘utterly shattered’, saying the ‘best part’ of making the 1990 gangster flick was him. 

Now the film’s director, Martin Scorsese, has also penned a heartfelt tribute to the actor, remembering how he had been ‘stunned’ by Liotta’s performance in Something Wild and wanted to see if he could ‘carry a whole picture’. 

Credit: Warner Bros
Credit: Warner Bros

Writing for the Guardian, Scorsese said he needed to find ‘just the right actor to play the lead, Henry Hill’, a job that required ‘a rare combination of qualities'. 

He wrote: “He needed to be dangerous. He needed to be disarming. He needed to be vulnerable.

"Within the context of the world we were dealing with, he had to be something close to an innocent, the guy who was always there, witnessing everything, along for the ride.

"And, it goes without saying, he needed to look and act like he might have come out of that world.” 

Scorsese said it eventually came down to a handful of names, one of which was Liotta – who he later bumped into in a hotel lobby in Venice, saying the star came to say hello but was ‘hit with a wall of security’. 

“Instead of throwing a fit and demanding that he be allowed through, he reacted quietly and calmly, observed the rules and patiently defused the situation,” the famed director wrote. 

Credit: Warner Bros
Credit: Warner Bros

“He looked at me, I looked at him, and we signalled that we would talk, and he walked away. I watched it all very closely, and I saw him handle the situation with quiet authority and a real elegance.

"Actually, that was just what the role needed. When I look back on it, I believe that was the moment when I knew I wanted Ray to play Henry Hill.” 

While working on Goodfellas, Scorsese said Liotta ‘never missed a beat’, saying it felt like they had worked together for years. 

He also expressed his regret at not collaborating with him again, saying the pair had ‘many plans to work together again but the timing was always off, or the project wasn’t quite right’. 

“I regret that now,” Scorsese said, adding: “I wish I’d had the chance to see him just once more, too – to tell him just how much the work we did together meant to me. But maybe he knew that. I hope so.” 

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Topics: Film & TV, Celebrity, Film and TV

Jess Hardiman
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