“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster”
We owed him one of the most famous lines in the history of cinema: As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster “. It was in Freedmen, of course, in 1990, Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece in which Ray Liotta, who died today at the age of 67, starred alongside Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. His greatest claim to fame, a film to which he was constantly brought back, without it bothering him too much. When we met him ten years ago, in Cannes, he told us: ” This movie doesn’t get old. And we all do this job for that: to play, if only once in our career, in a film superior to the others. A film that will remain. »
Ray Liotta, born in 1954 in Newark, New Jersey, had caught the eye of Martin Scorsese thanks to his boosted performance in Dangerous in all respects (1988) by Jonathan Demme (his first film, after a lot of TV), where he was the nasty and violent boyfriend of Melanie Griffith. America becomes familiar with him thanks to the cardboard Until the end of the dream (1989), starring Kevin Costner. Liotta is at the end of the 80s an actor on the rise, he misses the appointment with Tim Burton who would have imagined him as Batman, and chooses to play tough for Scorsese. The film very quickly became mythical, one of the most copied of the 90s and following, but yet Liotta only moderately benefited from this cult, finding himself rather quickly “typecast”, especially chosen to play the roles of mafia or dirty cops . A litany that nevertheless draws a hell of a CV, where the titles smack like blows in the face: Narc, Blow, Cogan, Copland, Revolver…” I’ve played nice guys too, in very tender little films like Nicky and Gino Where Corrina, Corrina, he specified. But it would seem that the spectators only want to remember my violent roles. I understand them, at the same time, cinema is a catharsis, we all love violence in films. A guy getting his ass kicked is interesting to watch. How the Mafia works? Interesting to watch. »
30 minutes behind the scenes of Les Affranchis with Martin Scorsese, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci
Over time, as he chained the shoots as a true professional, passing without batting an eyelid from Hannibal from Ridley Scott (where he had his brains devoured by Hannibal Lecter) to Operation Muppets, his features had hardened, his gaze seemed more and more translucent, his voice had become more and more gravelly – a real signature. He died, much too young, when we had just seen him in several good films in a row: Marriage Story by Noah Baumbach No Sudden Move by Steven Soderbergh, and above all The Many Saints of Newark by David Chase, film-prequel to Soprano where he played a kind of mafia ghost, jazz lover and believer in reincarnation, and which we will say is a beautiful epitaph to his career, The Sopranos probably never having been able to exist without Freedmen. We comfort each other as best we can.
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Ray Liotta is dead: the Goodfellas star was 67
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