Ray Liotta, the iconic actor who starred in Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Goodfellas, has passed away at the age of 67. No details of his passing have been officially announced, but Deadline has reported that he “died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was shooting the film Dangerous Waters.”
Liotta was one of the most gifted character actors of his generation, and as well as playing the complex crook Henry Hill in 1990’s Goodfellas, he also made his name as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams.
Aside from those two timeless blockbusters, his other acting credits include, Something Wild (1986), Unlawful Entry (1992), Cop Land (1997), Hannibal (2001), Blow (2001), John Q (2002), Identity (2003), Observe and Report (2009), Killing Them Softly (2012), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), and Marriage Story (2019), and the short-lived the drama series Shades of Blue.
Liotta became somewhat synonymous with a criminal character after his performance as Henry Hill in Goodfellas that he was hired as Tommy Vercetti, the protagonist in the legendary video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002. It was his delivery that was equally as iconic as his unmistakable look, and this is what allowed him to branch out into the animated world.
Famously, he also starred in the cult animated adventure Bee Movie in 2007, as himself. In the totally bonkers film, Liotta showed that he was not afraid to have a joke at himself as he is torn to shreds by the protagonist Bee, Barry Benson, who’s taken him to court for his part in stealing the world’s honey supply.
Up until the point where he makes his appearance, we’ve only seen his face on the front of his own brand of honey jars. It is wonderfully surreal, and Benson starts his cross-examination by congratulating Liotta for his 2005 Emmy Award for his guest appearance on the long-running drama series ER. However, Benson then says to Liotta: “I also see from your résumé that you’re devilishly handsome but with a churning inner turmoil that’s always ready to blow”. To which he gets seriously irked by. A brilliant piece of satire, this showed to all of us that Liotta was way more than just a one-trick pony who always played criminals.
Now that the news has broken of his death, many tributes have poured in from across the celebrity world. Piers Morgan, Jeffrey Wright, and James Mangold shared their appreciation for Liotta professionally and personally. The director said of Liotta: “Shocked and saddened to hear of Ray Liotta’s passing. Beyond the tough guy exterior and the tightly wound emotions of his signature characters, he was a sweet, playful and passionate collaborator and brilliant actor. RIP.”
Liotta’s co-star in Goodfellas, Lorraine Bracco, paid tribute to her old friend, lamenting: “I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray. I can be anywhere in the world & people will come up & tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas. Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same…Ray Liotta.”
Adding to this sentiment, revered actress Jamie Lee Curtis wrote: “Ray Liotta has died. His work as an actor showed his complexity as a human being. A gentle man. So sad to hear.”
This was supported by writer/producer David Zuckerman, who said: “I’ll never forget how terrifying Ray Liotta was in SOMETHING WILD, the first time I’d seen him. Years later I directed him on FAMILY GUY and he was so sweet, almost shy. A magnificent actor. RIP”
See more tributes to the iconic actor below.