Martin Scorsese Recalls the Exact Moment He Knew He Wanted Ray Liotta in Goodfellas

Martin Scorsese recalled the exact moment he knew he wanted Ray Liotta to star in Freedmenafter penning a poignant tribute to the late star following her death.

Last month it emerged that Liotta had died aged 67 after dying in his sleep in the Dominican Republic while filming Dangerous waters.

After the news broke, several of his former colleagues celebrated their friend’s career, with Lorraine Bracco – who played Liotta’s wife in Goodfellas- saying she felt “completely shattered”, saying the “best part” of making the 1990 gangster film was him.

Now the film’s director, Martin Scorsese, has also penned a heartfelt tribute to the actor, remembering how “stunned” he was by Liotta’s performance in something wild and wanted to see if he could “carry a whole picture”.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Writing for the Guardian, Scorsese said he had to find “just the right actor to play the lead role, Henry Hill”, a job which required “a rare combination of qualities”.

He wrote: “He must have been dangerous. He had to be disarming. He needed to be vulnerable.

“In 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 the ride.

“And, needless to say, he had to look and act like he was possibly out of this world.”

Scorsese said it ultimately came down to a handful of names, including Liotta – who he later met in a hotel lobby in Venice, claiming the star had come to say hello but was “hit by a security wall.

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

Credit: Warner Bros.
Credit: Warner Bros.
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“He looked at me, I looked at him, and we waved we were going to talk, and he walked away. I watched it all very closely and saw him handle the situation with a quiet authority and real elegance.

“Actually, that was exactly what the role needed. Looking back, I think that’s when I knew I wanted Ray to play Henry Hill.”

By working on FreedmenScorsese said Liotta “never missed a beat”, saying he felt like they had been working together for years.

He also expressed his regret at no longer collaborating with him, saying the pair had “many plans to work together again, but the timing was always off, or the project just wasn’t quite right.”

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

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