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Ray Liotta - RIP

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1 minute ago, Babb'sBurstNad said:

RIP. Vice City was the best Grand Theft Auto.

Bollocks. It was pitch black. San Andreas pissed on it from every height possible. 

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Ray Liotta, Hollywood star best known for playing a mobster in Martin Scorsese’s Mafia classic Goodfellas – obituary (msn.com)

 

Ray Liotta, who has died in his sleep aged 67, made his name in films for his portrayal of hoodlums and corrupt cops teetering on the edge of psychopathy.

Ray Liotta in Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas - Alamy© Alamy Ray Liotta in Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas - Alamy

His most famous role was in Goodfellas (1990), Martin Scorsese’s gripping drama constructed around the experience of Henry Hill (played by Liotta), a real-life, small-time New York crook turned mobster who eventually becomes an informer and is spirited away into a witness protection programme.

 

The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, including for best picture and best director, with Joe Pesci winning for best supporting actor. Liotta prepared for his role by spending time with the Brooklyn-born, half-Irish, half-Sicilian Henry Hill, who, after seeing the film, lauded the accuracy of his portrayal.

 

Liotta had been made to work hard to get the part in the first place. The story goes that he tried to lobby Scorsese on the beach at the Lido in Venice when the director was attending the Film Festival, but was turned away by bodyguards (hired to protect Scorsese from protesters against his 1988 picture The Last Temptation of Christ). Liotta managed to talk his way past them, and convinced Scorsese to cast him as Hill. Even then there was initial resistance from the studio executives – including the producer, Irwin Winkler – who wanted a bigger name.

 

Real stardom never quite touched Liotta, despite the intensity and considerable charm that he brought to the most unpromising of roles and the good looks that were reminiscent of Tony Curtis. Liotta claimed that making a lot of money never motivated him, and that he had no ambition to be a screen idol; he liked playing working-class characters because, he said, they tend to be “much more emotionally charged”.

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Born Raymond Julian Vicimarli in Newark, New Jersey, on December 18 1954, he spent the first six months of his life in an orphanage before being adopted by Alfred Liotta, the owner of a store selling car parts, and his wife, Mary, a local government officer. The Liottas lived in a middle-class area of Union, New Jersey, and were active in local politics on behalf of the Democrats. When Ray was three they adopted a daughter, Linda, having taken their son with them to the orphanage to help “select” her. Liotta knew from his earliest years that he was adopted, and in his forties hired a private detective who successfully traced his biological mother.

 

At Union High School, Ray excelled at basketball, then went on to the University of Miami, graduating in 1978 with a degree in theatre and Fine Arts. He claimed that at that stage in his life he was far more interested in sport than in acting, but at college he appeared in several plays and musicals, partly because it enabled him to meet pretty girls.

 

Having moved to New York City, he was working as a bartender when he was fortuitously offered a role in a television commercial. This led to a small part in a television movie called Hardhat and Legs (1980) and, in 1981, in eight episodes of the long-running soap opera Another World. Invited in 1983 to play Sascha the barman in a television series based on the classic movie Casablanca, he moved to Los Angeles, where he took twice-weekly acting lessons.

 

Liotta’s debut on the big screen came in The Lonely Lady (1983), in which his most memorable contribution is sexually assaulting Pia Zadora with the nozzle of a garden hose. The critics were unimpressed: “If The Lonely Lady had even a shred of style and humour,” one wrote, “it could qualify as the worst movie of the year. Unfortunately, it’s not that good.”

 

In 1986, however, Liotta scored his first notable success, in Something Wild, starring Melanie Griffith. He had secured his part through his friendship with Steven Bauer, Griffith’s then husband and a contemporary at the University of Miami. Liotta’s turn as Griffith’s violent ex-husband, a convicted armed robber, won him a Golden Globe nomination, the Wall Street Journal calling it “a screen-stealing, chilling performance”.

Ray Liotta in Goodfellas (1990) - Alamy© Provided by The Telegraph Ray Liotta in Goodfellas (1990) - Alamy

Now suddenly inundated with job offers, Liotta said that he declined some $2 million worth of roles that would have typecast him as a “psychopath”. He did not get another significant part for two years, but when he did it was a very different one: for the well-received Dominick and Eugene (1988), Liotta showed a new dimension as a medical student caring for his mentally disabled brother. The following year he co-starred alongside Kevin Costner in the corny baseball movie Field of Dreams. Liotta portrayed the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox baseball player who, with seven of his team-mates, was banned from the game for “throwing” the 1919 World Series.

 

Following his success in Goodfellas, in 1992 Liotta had top billing, alongside Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker, as a crusading surgeon in the black comedy Article 99. Researching for the role before filming, he fainted while watching a liver transplant.

 

Although thereafter never short of work, Liotta was increasingly cast in roles that showcased his talent for criminals, misfits and outsiders. As he told the Guardian in 2007: “You can’t just sit around and wait for the perfect ones to turn up. You try to make the best choices that you can.”

 

He was a psychopathic Los Angeles cop in the thriller Unlawful Entry (1992); a former marine captain sent to a penal colony for murdering his commanding officer in the sci-fi/action film No Escape (1994), of which he said: “In addition to beating people up, I get to cry and emote”; a corrupt police officer in Cop Land (1997); a policeman with a gambling problem in Phoenix (1998). In 2001, appearing in Hannibal (sequel to The Silence of the Lambs), Liotta was Justice Department official Paul Krendler, whose brains are sautéed and eaten by Dr Lecter.

Ray Liotta as Bill Wozniak in Shades of Blue - NBC© Provided by The Telegraph Ray Liotta as Bill Wozniak in Shades of Blue - NBC

Liotta’s many other credits include the cocaine-smuggling movie Blow (2001); the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002); the thrillers Narc (2002), Identity (2003), The Son of No One (2011), Killing Them Softly (2012) and The Place Beyond the Pines (2012); and the successful biker-comedy Wild Hogs (2007).

 

Among his many television roles were that of Frank Sinatra in The Rat Pack (1998), which won him a Screen Actors’ Guild Award nomination. He also appeared in the Western miniseries Texas Rising (2015), a drama about the origins of the Texas Rangers. From 2016 to 2018 he starred as the corrupt cop Lt Matt Wozniak in the television series Shades of Blue, alongside Jennifer Lopez.

 

In 2021 he had two roles, as the main character’s father and uncle, in the Sopranos film prequel The Many Saints of Newark. Unlike the screen characters with which he was most associated, Ray Liotta was a quiet, thoughtful personality who had little enthusiasm for the glitz which surrounds the movie business.

 

He married, in 1997, Michelle Grace, an actress and producer who appeared alongside him in The Rat Pack. They had a daughter, and divorced in 2004.

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He'll always be Henry Hill but his performance in Cop Land (a superb film) is extremely underrated.

 

Sad news.

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29 minutes ago, Shooter in the Motor said:

Ray Liotta, Hollywood star best known for playing a mobster in Martin Scorsese’s Mafia classic Goodfellas – obituary (msn.com)

 

Ray Liotta, who has died in his sleep aged 67, made his name in films for his portrayal of hoodlums and corrupt cops teetering on the edge of psychopathy.

Ray Liotta in Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas - Alamy© Alamy Ray Liotta in Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas - Alamy

His most famous role was in Goodfellas (1990), Martin Scorsese’s gripping drama constructed around the experience of Henry Hill (played by Liotta), a real-life, small-time New York crook turned mobster who eventually becomes an informer and is spirited away into a witness protection programme.

 

The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, including for best picture and best director, with Joe Pesci winning for best supporting actor. Liotta prepared for his role by spending time with the Brooklyn-born, half-Irish, half-Sicilian Henry Hill, who, after seeing the film, lauded the accuracy of his portrayal.

 

Liotta had been made to work hard to get the part in the first place. The story goes that he tried to lobby Scorsese on the beach at the Lido in Venice when the director was attending the Film Festival, but was turned away by bodyguards (hired to protect Scorsese from protesters against his 1988 picture The Last Temptation of Christ). Liotta managed to talk his way past them, and convinced Scorsese to cast him as Hill. Even then there was initial resistance from the studio executives – including the producer, Irwin Winkler – who wanted a bigger name.

 

Real stardom never quite touched Liotta, despite the intensity and considerable charm that he brought to the most unpromising of roles and the good looks that were reminiscent of Tony Curtis. Liotta claimed that making a lot of money never motivated him, and that he had no ambition to be a screen idol; he liked playing working-class characters because, he said, they tend to be “much more emotionally charged”.

Video player from: YouTube (Privacy Policy, Terms)

Born Raymond Julian Vicimarli in Newark, New Jersey, on December 18 1954, he spent the first six months of his life in an orphanage before being adopted by Alfred Liotta, the owner of a store selling car parts, and his wife, Mary, a local government officer. The Liottas lived in a middle-class area of Union, New Jersey, and were active in local politics on behalf of the Democrats. When Ray was three they adopted a daughter, Linda, having taken their son with them to the orphanage to help “select” her. Liotta knew from his earliest years that he was adopted, and in his forties hired a private detective who successfully traced his biological mother.

 

At Union High School, Ray excelled at basketball, then went on to the University of Miami, graduating in 1978 with a degree in theatre and Fine Arts. He claimed that at that stage in his life he was far more interested in sport than in acting, but at college he appeared in several plays and musicals, partly because it enabled him to meet pretty girls.

 

Having moved to New York City, he was working as a bartender when he was fortuitously offered a role in a television commercial. This led to a small part in a television movie called Hardhat and Legs (1980) and, in 1981, in eight episodes of the long-running soap opera Another World. Invited in 1983 to play Sascha the barman in a television series based on the classic movie Casablanca, he moved to Los Angeles, where he took twice-weekly acting lessons.

 

Liotta’s debut on the big screen came in The Lonely Lady (1983), in which his most memorable contribution is sexually assaulting Pia Zadora with the nozzle of a garden hose. The critics were unimpressed: “If The Lonely Lady had even a shred of style and humour,” one wrote, “it could qualify as the worst movie of the year. Unfortunately, it’s not that good.”

 

In 1986, however, Liotta scored his first notable success, in Something Wild, starring Melanie Griffith. He had secured his part through his friendship with Steven Bauer, Griffith’s then husband and a contemporary at the University of Miami. Liotta’s turn as Griffith’s violent ex-husband, a convicted armed robber, won him a Golden Globe nomination, the Wall Street Journal calling it “a screen-stealing, chilling performance”.

Ray Liotta in Goodfellas (1990) - Alamy© Provided by The Telegraph Ray Liotta in Goodfellas (1990) - Alamy

Now suddenly inundated with job offers, Liotta said that he declined some $2 million worth of roles that would have typecast him as a “psychopath”. He did not get another significant part for two years, but when he did it was a very different one: for the well-received Dominick and Eugene (1988), Liotta showed a new dimension as a medical student caring for his mentally disabled brother. The following year he co-starred alongside Kevin Costner in the corny baseball movie Field of Dreams. Liotta portrayed the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox baseball player who, with seven of his team-mates, was banned from the game for “throwing” the 1919 World Series.

 

Following his success in Goodfellas, in 1992 Liotta had top billing, alongside Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker, as a crusading surgeon in the black comedy Article 99. Researching for the role before filming, he fainted while watching a liver transplant.

 

Although thereafter never short of work, Liotta was increasingly cast in roles that showcased his talent for criminals, misfits and outsiders. As he told the Guardian in 2007: “You can’t just sit around and wait for the perfect ones to turn up. You try to make the best choices that you can.”

 

He was a psychopathic Los Angeles cop in the thriller Unlawful Entry (1992); a former marine captain sent to a penal colony for murdering his commanding officer in the sci-fi/action film No Escape (1994), of which he said: “In addition to beating people up, I get to cry and emote”; a corrupt police officer in Cop Land (1997); a policeman with a gambling problem in Phoenix (1998). In 2001, appearing in Hannibal (sequel to The Silence of the Lambs), Liotta was Justice Department official Paul Krendler, whose brains are sautéed and eaten by Dr Lecter.

Ray Liotta as Bill Wozniak in Shades of Blue - NBC© Provided by The Telegraph Ray Liotta as Bill Wozniak in Shades of Blue - NBC

Liotta’s many other credits include the cocaine-smuggling movie Blow (2001); the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002); the thrillers Narc (2002), Identity (2003), The Son of No One (2011), Killing Them Softly (2012) and The Place Beyond the Pines (2012); and the successful biker-comedy Wild Hogs (2007).

 

Among his many television roles were that of Frank Sinatra in The Rat Pack (1998), which won him a Screen Actors’ Guild Award nomination. He also appeared in the Western miniseries Texas Rising (2015), a drama about the origins of the Texas Rangers. From 2016 to 2018 he starred as the corrupt cop Lt Matt Wozniak in the television series Shades of Blue, alongside Jennifer Lopez.

 

In 2021 he had two roles, as the main character’s father and uncle, in the Sopranos film prequel The Many Saints of Newark. Unlike the screen characters with which he was most associated, Ray Liotta was a quiet, thoughtful personality who had little enthusiasm for the glitz which surrounds the movie business.

 

He married, in 1997, Michelle Grace, an actress and producer who appeared alongside him in The Rat Pack. They had a daughter, and divorced in 2004.

 

I'll be honest, I stopped reading that when they described Field of Dreams as "corny".

 

*shakes head*

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5 minutes ago, Mook said:

He'll always be Henry Hill but his performance in Cop Land (a superb film) is extremely underrated.

 

Sad news.

Yeah  I really liked Cop Land, not seen it in years though. Even Stallone was good in it.

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6 minutes ago, Strontium said:

 

I'll be honest, I stopped reading that when they described Field of Dreams as "corny".

 

*shakes head*

Doesn't sound corny at all...

 

Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice in his cornfield tell him, "If you build it, he will come." He interprets it as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm, upon which appear the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. When the voices continue, Ray seeks out a reclusive author to help him understand the meaning of the messages and the purpose for his field.

 

All his life, Ray Kinsella was searching for his dreams. Then one day, his dreams came looking for him.

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