With the news of Ray Liotta passing away today, inevitably talk will turn to some of his most iconic roles. While he will live on forever within the world of cinema thanks to his take on real-life mob member Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, one of the most poignant performances of Liotta’s career has to be his turn as the disgraced and redeemed baseball legend “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in 1989’s Field of Dreams.
With a soft demeanour and a fatherly connection to Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella, Liotta’s Shoeless Joe was such an empathetic character that it largely shaped the public perception of the White Sox outfielder even for those who had never heard of the infamous Black Sox scandal that caused Jackson to be banned from baseball. For an entire generation, Liotta simple was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
Despite that prestige, Liotta admitted on the Rich Eisen Show that he hadn’t actually watched one of his greatest performances. Liotta claimed to have never seen Field of Dreams as recently as 2021 when he chatted with Eisen. He also stated that he wasn’t convinced by the script and likely only did it because he was still a young actor looking for parts.
“I read [Field of Dreams] and it was only my third movie,” Liotta told Eisen. “And I said, ‘This is so silly. This guy hears voices and he’s got a cornfield. He makes a baseball field and removes the corn?’ When I read the script, I thought it was the silliest, silliest thing. And obviously I was wrong.”
During the same interview, Liotta confirmed that he had only seen Goodfellas twice in the 30 years since its original release. Evidently, Liotta wasn’t a major fan of watching himself on screen.
Although he probably never got around to seeing Field of Dreams in his lifetime, Liotta will always be remembered by most movie-going audiences as the definitive portrayal of an American icon. Baseball remains the sport most intrinsically linked to America’s culture, and Liotta will forever be a contributor to that rich history.