Ray Liotta: An Actor’s Life

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams (Image courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Despite the fact that Ray Liotta got into acting to avoid taking certain prerequisites for his liberal arts major at the University of Miami, he’s spent nearly four decades creating a substantially deep filmography. Dedication to the craft found him looking to try on different roles versus going for a paycheck, even if it meant passing up the title role in Tim Burton’s Batman after the director asked him to audition for the role.

While he’s had a propensity for playing either mobsters or law enforcement types, the New Jersey native has managed to indulge his desire to find challenging roles.

Something Wild (1986)

In this cult road movie, Liotta plays the sociopathic ex-con husband of Melanie Griffith’s eccentric lead character. His performance inspired director Tim Burton to seek him out to play the role of Batman.

Dominic and Eugene (1988)

This story of twin brothers played by Tom Hulce (Dominic) and Liotta (Eugene), finds the latter studying to become a doctor while trying to care for his mentally disabled sibling whose condition was caused by an abusive father. It’s one of Liotta’s favorite roles.

Field of Dreams (1989)

Based on an adaptation of the W.P. Kinsella novel Shoeless Joe, Liotta played the late baseball legend while working alongside the likes of Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Amy Madigan and Burt Lancaster, in his last role.

Goodfellas (1990)

This Martin Scorsese film—that stands out as one of the greatest Mob movies ever shot—made Liotta a household name, playing real-life criminal Henry Hill alongside Robert DeNiro, Lorraine Bracco, Joe Pesci and Paul Sorvino.

Article 99 (1992)

Despite being a dramedy, Liotta’s first post-Goodfellas project dealt with the very real red-tape involved with a Veterans Administration Hospital. Liotta played a renegade heart surgeon and scrubbed in for an actual open-heart procedure as part of the research for this role.

Ray Liotta starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg (left) and Tina Majorino in 1994’s Corinna Corinna (Image courtesy of New Line Cinema)

Corrina, Corrina (1994)

Liotta played a widowed jingle writer in 1950s Los Angeles in this interracial love story that also stars Whoopi Goldberg. Balancing out the cast is Tina Majorino, who plays his daughter who is traumatized by her mother’s death and Don Ameche in his last role as Liotta’s elderly father.

Cop Land (1997)

While this crime drama is best known for lead Sylvester Stallone going method and putting on 40 pounds for the role, Liotta held his own alongside Harvey Keitel, Robert DeNiro, Annabella Sciorra and Peter Berg in this story about a New Jersey suburb overrun by corrupt New York City cops.

The Rat Pack (1998)

Shot in 33 days, this $9.6 million HBO biographical drama found Liotta playing Frank Sinatra in 1960s Las Vegas. Rounding out the cast was Joe Mantegna (Dean Martin), Don Cheadle (Sammy Davis Jr.), William Peterson (John F. Kennedy) and Angus Macfadyen (Peter Lawford).

See LIW‘s full interview with Ray Liotta:

Ray Liotta: More Than Just A Goodfella

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