Ray Liotta came into show business when television was still frowned upon, but the Shades of Blue actor admits that times have changed. He says the face of television has gone through a metamorphosis, evolving into something greater, with more challenging work and a better reputation.
Ray says it’s important as an actor to keep an open mind and to keep learning and growing in his profession is just as important to him as maturing as a person. Both life and profession should never be seen as a destination, but as a journey, says the Field of Dreams actor.
Ray Liotta Gives Rare Insight Into Playing Henry Hill In Goodfellas
Playing a real mobster took Ray Liotta into the life of Henry Hill, even more than director Martin Scorsese asked of him for his Goodfellas role. Still, the actor was eager to be a convincing Henry Hill, and for that, Ray started out by listening to the hours upon hours of recorded interviews committed to cassette by author Nicholas Pileggi for his book, Wiseguy.
Liotta reveals that his subject was annoying, with an addiction to potato chips that bordered on an obsession, but even that revealed something of Hill’s character. It told Ray that Henry did what he wanted, when he wanted to do it.
Even more obvious was the nonchalant way in which crimes were committed, notes Liotta.
“The biggest thing that I learned from it was just how casual they were; how casual Henry was about what happened,” the Shades of Blue actor recalled. “It was just like he was telling a story of what his kids were doing, how they played in a park, except they were talking about people getting killed or beaten. It was very, very casual.”
Ray also recalls meeting Henry Hill face to face, which was never planned and it was also something Scorsese insisted he not do. Still, Liotta went, when he received the call from Henry, meeting the legendary mobster and his brother at an area bowling alley. Hill had seen Goodfellas and had felt compelled to thank the actor for “not making him look like a scumbag” in the film.
Mr. Liotta wonders if Hill really watched Goodfellas. After all, as the actor remarks, Henry ratted on his friends, snorted cocaine through half of the movie, and was beating people up in every other scene.
Toward the end of his life, Henry Hill began to suffer from dementia, wandering the streets of Los Angeles or hanging around the beaches, reveals Ray. He adds that he would bump into Hill once in awhile, though Liotta doesn’t say what became of those meetings.
Jennifer Lopez Is Ray Liotta’s Shades of Blue Boss, But Not Really
On Shades of Blue, Ray Liotta plays Lieutenant Matt Wozniak, a corrupt officer running a squad of police detectives who are all equally as corrupt. Bribes, shakedowns, and the planting of evidence are all in a day’s work for Wozniak’s men. Still, Liotta plays the big boss, ensuring nothing gets by him.
Behind the scenes, however, Jennifer is in charge, or is she? Ms. Lopez reveals that Liotta commands respect, even when the cameras aren’t rolling.
“He is the boss, let’s just put it that way. I defer, both on and off camera,” says Ms. Lopez, emphatically. “I don’t really try to challenge that in any way, shape or form.”
Maybe Ray Liotta seems unapproachable, considering he usually ends up on the wrong side of the law, even when he’s playing a cop, but he might actually be open to instruction and advice. After all, learning and growth are important parts of his life philosophy.
“The older you get, you don’t arrive… It just keeps going, you’re constantly learning things if you’re the type of person who stays open and current.”
[Featured image by Angela Weiss/Getty Images]