Ray Liotta said he treated career “too preciously” and regretted it

Ray Liotta once said he’s handled his career “a little too preciously.”

“When I’ve played a villain, I want to play a good one, and after a while you’re just like, ‘Whatever is best, you play two villains in a row, so be it,'” the actor said. who died Thursday of unknown causes at the age of 67, The Digital Fix said in September.

Afraid of being labeled a mobster after the smashing success of Martin Scorsese’s gangster film Goodfellas, in which he played Henry Hill, he refused to play similar characters back-to-back.

He even turned down the role of Ralphie, which was eventually played by Joe Pantoliano on The Sopranos.

Ray Liotta in Goodfellas
The Goodfellas star once turned down a role on The Sopranos.
Warner Bros

“I didn’t want to do another mafia thing, so I made Hannibal. It just didn’t feel right at the time,” he said in an interview with the Guardian last year.

However, a role in The Sopranos universe was not off the table. In “The Many Saints of Newark,” the HBO prequel that aired in October, Liotta Aldo played “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti, grandfather of Michael Imperiolis Christopher. But before he could secure the role, he had to fight for it; Liotta even flew to New York herself and vied for a spot on the silver screen.

“I got kicked out myself and had lunch with David [Chase] and Alan [Taylor, the director]’ he once told The Post, ‘and they ended up asking me to play Hollywood Dick.’

“I’m really not sure what made me so determined,” he told the Guardian. “But I was and luckily everything worked out.”

Though he was adamant about getting a starring role, he had never seen The Sopranos in full, as he revealed on Late Night with Seth Meyers last year.

“I’ve never really seen it,” he said, much to Meyers’ surprise. “Back then, I just didn’t feel like sitting at home and watching TV.”

After news of Liotta’s death broke, Alessandro Nivola, his co-star in The Many Saints of Newark tweeted, “I feel so fortunate to have faced this legend in one of his last roles. The scenes we did together were among the absolute highlights of my acting career. He was dangerous, unpredictable, hilarious and generous with his praise for other actors.”

While actively promoting his role in the prequel The Sopranos, Liotta waited for Scorsese to call.

When The Guardian asked him last year why he didn’t work with the legendary director after Goodfellas, he replied: “I don’t know, you’d have to ask him. But I would like to do it.”

Ray Liotta in The Many Saints of Newark.
Although he turned down the series role, he fought for a spot in the prequel film The Many Saints of Newark.
Warner Bros

Fighting for roles is one thing, but while Liotta has starred in crime dramas and gangster movies, she’s “never been in a fight” in real life.

“I don’t go around beating up people,” Liotta once told the Post. “I’ve never been in a fight. I avoid it at all costs.”

It’s a fun coincidence, considering he said he never “thinks about his screen presence” while acting in his various powerful roles. “I just commit to what’s written on the page and the script dictates the character,” he said.

A chance to star in The Sopranos wasn’t the only big opportunity Liotta turned down. In 2016, the famous actor revealed that director Tim Burton once eyed him for the role of Batman while Liotta was filming his first movie Something Wild.

“I thought, ‘Batman? That’s a stupid idea,” even though he had just filmed one of my favorite movies of all time, Beetlejuice. So yes, I regret not auditioning for it,” he admitted in an interview with Irish News.

He regretted it so much that he expressed similar feelings in later interviews, including with the Los Angeles Times that same year, when he said he would “always regret it.”

“I think Tim Burton is such a great, great director and I always regretted not meeting him,” he said. “Just to meet him, just to talk – whether I was okay with playing it – because I couldn’t turn around and understand.”

The Many Saints of Newark Poster
Liotta, who starred in the prequel to The Sopranos, revealed he never saw the entire show.
Warner Bros

“That movie and the success of Jack Nicholson?” he said of Nicholson eventually landing the lead in 1989. “My career could have started differently!”

Yet his career soared without playing the Dark Knight. In addition to Goodfellas, he later starred in later films including The Place Beyond the Pines, Unlawful Entry and Marriage Story. He even dabbled in cartoons, playing himself in The Bee Movie.

After starring in a number of television series, including Shades of Blue opposite Jennifer Lopez, he eventually won an Emmy Award for NBC’s ER in 2005.

Before his death he was filming Dangerous Waters with Eric Dane, Saffron Burrows and Odeya Rush. According to TMZ, he passed while on location for the upcoming thriller flick in the Dominican Republic. While the cause of his death is currently unknown, he is survived by his fiancee Jacy Nittolo, a podcaster and entrepreneur who became engaged to Liotta in 2020, and his daughter Karen, 23.

But fans — and his co-stars — will always fondly remember his breakthrough role on Goodfellas, which co-star Lorraine Bracco carries dearly to their hearts.

“I can be anywhere in the world and people will come and tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas,” she wrote. “Then they always ask what was the best thing about making this film. My answer was always the same… Ray Liotta.”

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