In a new tribute for the Guardian, the famed filmmaker writes of plans he had with the late 67-year-old, and why he regrets not reuniting with him despite working with other actors from the 1990 classic on later projects.
“We had many plans to work together again but the timing was always off, or the project wasn’t quite right. I regret that now,” Scorsese writes. “When I watched Ray as the divorce lawyer in Marriage Story—he’s genuinely scary in the role, which is precisely why he’s so funny—I remember feeling that I wanted to work with him again at this point in his life, to explore the gravity in his presence, so different from the young, sprightly actor he was when I met him.”
Scorsese added that he hopes the actor knew how much their work together “meant to me,” and that he wishes to have had the “chance to see him just once more.”
He also wrote about what Liotta was going through behind-the-scenes on the Goodfellas set, when he was dealing with the news of his mother dying of cancer. On set during a particular day, Scorsese asked him to take time away from the film to be with her. He refused and wanted to finish a scene, Scorsese added.
“The word ‘fearless’ is used quite often to describe actors, and with good reason: actors need to be fearless,” Scorsese said. “They have to jump in and just go, and they have to stumble and fail and risk appearing ridiculous as they’re finding their way into a role. That’s just part of the work. On Goodfellas, we were working improvisationally in most scenes, and many members of the team had known each other and worked together for years, including my mother and my father. Into that walked the new guy, Ray Liotta, and he never missed a beat. It felt like we’d worked together for years.”
As previously reported, Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic last month. While Goodfellas stands decades later as his most applauded role, his other films include Field of Dreams, Cop Land, Blow, and Marriage Story. Read out tribute for the late actor here.