Following Goodfellas actor Ray Liotta’s sudden death last month, the film’s director Martin Scorsese penned a tribute to Liotta in which expresses his remorse over never working with him on another project.
“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 for The Guardian. “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.”
“I wish I’d had the chance to see him just once more, too—to tell him just how much the work we did together meant to me,” Scorsese adds. “But maybe he knew that. I hope so.”
Liotta was perhaps most known for his career-defining role as Henry Hill in Goodfellas. Scorsese went on to direct other Goodfellas stars such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, but he would never work with Liotta again. In the piece for The Guardian, Scorsese also shares some insight into what it was like working with Liotta back in 1990.
“The word ‘fearless’ is used quite often to describe actors, and with good reason: actors need to be fearless,” the filmmaker writes. “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.”
Liotta’s Goodfellas co-star Lorraine Bracco also recalled working with the actor in a statement she posted on Twitter after learning news of his death. “I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray,” she wrote. “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.”
You can read Scorsese’s full piece honoring Liotta here.