Ray Liotta, an actor, has died. According to his publicist, Jennifer Allen, Liotta died in his sleep while filming Dangerous Waters in the Dominican Republic. He was 67 years old at the time.
The actor is most recognized for his performance as Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film Goodfellas, in which he helped influence the gangster film genre for years to come. The film was based on Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction book Wise Guy. To prepare for the role, Liotta sat in his mother’s car and listened to hours and hours of recording of Hill being questioned, according to WHYY’s Fresh Air.
“And the most important lesson I took away from that was how casual they were — how casual Henry was about what happened,” Liotta remarked. “It was like he was narrating a story about his kids and how they used to play in the park, only they were talking about people getting killed or beaten.”
Liotta was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1954. After being adopted by the Liotta family, he grew up in nearby Union. He began acting while studying drama at the University of Miami. Following college, he appeared in a few tiny roles in commercials and TV shows, but his breakthrough role came in Jonathan Demme’s 1986 film Something Wild.
Following that, he was cast in Goodfellas after playing the spirit of baseball star Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams.
Lorraine Bracco, who co-starred with him in the film Goodfellas, paid tribute to him on Twitter “People will approach me from all over the world and tell me that their favorite film is Goodfellas. Then they always want to know what the most enjoyable aspect of making the film was. Ray Liotta, that’s always been my response.”
Despite the fact that Henry Hill was Liotta’s most famous part, he continued to work in films such as Corrina, Corrina, Cop Land, and The Rat Pack throughout his life.
He appeared as Tommy Vercetti, a mobster who climbs through the ranks of the game’s criminal empire, in the hit video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002. He admitted to late-night broadcasters Desus & Mero in 2018 that he knew little about the series and was not a player. He joked, “All I do is curse and call everybody whores.”
Liotta received an Emmy for his role as Charlie Metcalf, an alcoholic ex-convict trying to reconcile with his kid, on the hospital drama ER in 2005.
Liotta most recently acted alongside Jennifer Lopez in Shades of Blue, in which he delivered his trademark ferocity. Between 2016 and 2018, the criminal drama aired three seasons.
Liotta leaves a daughter behind and was recently engaged to Jacy Nittolo.