DETAILS: Henry Hill, the mobster turned FBI
informant you portrayed in Goodfellas, died in June. To prepare
for the role, you listened to Hill reminiscing about his life. What do
you remember from the tapes?
Ray Liotta: He was eating the whole time! I thought he was kind of annoying, just chomping on these loud potato chips. I met him once with his brother in a bowling alley in Sherman Oaks. His brother looked serious. A serious dude who did serious things. And years later I saw Henry drunk and really messed-up in Venice Beach. He had a rough life.
DETAILS: In the mob flick Killing Them Softly, you get beaten to a pulp in the pouring rain for several minutes. At 57, aren't you getting too old for that shit?
Ray Liotta: It was a whole night of work. It's not that I wouldn't have used a stunt double, but the double they gave me had just had hip surgery and was 15 years older than me—I wasn't going to let him do stuff I could do. But it wasn't painless. You're soaking wet, they change the shot, you dry off, and the rain comes on again.
DETAILS: It looked brutal. Did you get battered and bruised?
Ray Liotta: Not a scratch. And the guy who did the beating-up had never done it before—and then his back hurt, so he was a little pussy. That's what's frustrating, when you know you can beat up the guy who's supposed to beat you up.
DETAILS: Wait, you've said you haven't been in a
real fight since the seventh grade.
Ray Liotta: Yeah, that's true. And that one was over cafeteria food—really stupid, like most fights.
DETAILS: I'm interested in a movie you starred in last year with Christian Slater called The River
Ray Liotta: Never saw it! I haven't seen about half the movies I've done. You know, you've got to make a living, but some I don't get a good vibe with. I definitely had my time, the first eight, nine movies I did. I was making a good living. But it's a whole different business now. And I haven't had that kind of opportunity as of late—not parts like Goodfellas or Narc. Who knows, it might happen with Killing Them Softly. And I've got a really, really good one called The Iceman that's coming out. I play this Mafia guy. You just have to hang in there, you really do. What do they say? "What God does for others, He shall also do for me"? He just better fucking make it quicker.
DETAILS: Anything you regret about your career so
Ray Liotta: Some of the independent movies I could easily do without. I remember talking to a really big old-time movie star, and he said, "The best way to do it is you pick the worst movie out there—they'll pay you some money, and you hope it'll just disappear." Sometimes that's not a bad philosophy.
DETAILS: What's the dream scenario?
Ray Liotta: Probably that Woody Allen wants to meet me. I just watched the documentary on him. He's so open and honest about what it is that he does. Talk about someone who doesn't take it too seriously. From what I gather, you just go in to see him, he nods his head, and you're off to work.
DETAILS: Your parents were both involved in New
Jersey politics, and your father ran for office but didn't win. Is
politics a topic that gets you riled up?
Ray Liotta: No. I pay attention to it, but I agree with the adage that politics is the best way to get into an argument. I usually don't like to talk a lot—I ask questions of other people and get them going, but I'd much prefer somebody else do the yapping. There's an actor I know who just doesn't shut the fuck up. He just goes on and on and on. That's true for a lot of them.
DETAILS: Can you tell me which actor you're referring to?
Ray Liotta: I'm not gonna tell you who it is.
DETAILS: I can at least assume you're not talking
about Robert De Niro. I've heard that while filming Goodfellas,
he barely talked to you.
Ray Liotta: I don't know anything about the guy or his behavior. He would pretty much do his take and go back to the trailer. I can't say I became friendly with the guy. I mean, we say hello. "Hey, how you doing?" A little hug. But nothing more.
DETAILS: What line from that film do guys yell at
you the most?
Ray Liotta: Joe Pesci's line, "You think I'm funny?!" I get that and "Karen!" Just,"Kaa-ren"—exactly the way I said it.