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Ray Liotta Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (22) | Personal Quotes (23) | Salary (1)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 18 December 1954Newark, New Jersey, USA
Height 5' 11½" (1.82 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Intense is the word for Ray Liotta. He specializes in psychopathic characters who hide behind a cultivated charm. Even in his nice guy roles in Field of Dreams (1989) and Operation Dumbo Drop (1995), you get the impression that something is smoldering inside of him. Liotta maintains a steady stream of work, completing multiple projects per year.

Liotta was born in Newark, New Jersey, and was adopted by Mary, a township clerk, and Alfred Liotta, an auto parts store owner. He studied acting at the University of Miami, where he became friends with Steven Bauer (Scarface (1983), Thief of Hearts (1984)). He spent his first years acting in TV: Another World (1964), a TV movie and several short-lived series. He broke into movies with the black comedy Something Wild (1986), which garnered him rave reviews. Originally unable to get a reading, he was recommended for the part by Melanie Griffith (then married to Bauer). After the success of "Something Wild" he received more offers in the "psycho" vein, but refused them to avoid being typecast. Instead, he made "little movies" like Dominick and Eugene (1988) (which earned him standing as an actor's actor) and Field of Dreams (1989) (whose success still surprises him). When he heard that Martin Scorsese was casting Goodfellas (1990), he lobbied hard for the part of Henry Hill. The film's huge success brought him wide popularity and enabled him to get star billing in future films (Article 99 (1992), Unlawful Entry (1992), Unforgettable (1996)).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ray Hamel / Zaux and Anne-Marie Cowsill

Spouse (1)

Michelle Grace (15 February 1997 - 2004) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Piercing blue eyes
Often plays intense, violent characters
His slightly deranged laugh

Trivia (22)

Last name is pronounced Lee-oh-ta.
One of the roles he played while at the University of Miami was as one of the Von Trapp children (Kurt) in the 1974 production of "The Sound of Music." Also appearing in that production was Gail Edwards.
Attended Union High School in Union, New Jersey. Was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame during the 1992-1993 school year.
Adopted when 6 months old.
His best friend is Josh Taylor.
Worked in a cemetery while he was at college.
Became a father for the 1st time at age 44 when his [now ex] wife Michelle Grace gave birth to their daughter Karsen Liotta in December 1998.
In Blow (2001), Liotta plays father to George Jung (Johnny Depp), who reportedly was responsible for 85% of all cocaine distributed in the US in the late 1970s/early '80s. Therefore, there is an 85% chance that Liotta's son in Blow (2001) is distributing cocaine to Liotta, playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas (1990).
British rock band Linoleum recorded a song called 'Ray Liotta' (on their 1997 album 'Dissent').
Played baseball player "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams (1989). Ex-wife, Michelle Grace is also the ex-wife of baseball player Mark Grace.
He gained about 20 pounds and wore small lifts to appear even more imposing and bear-like while playing Henry Oak in Narc (2002).
In contrast to his intense, often evil characters, he is by all accounts a nice, well-adjusted family-man off screen.
Is an avid supporter of English Premiership football team Tottenham Hotspur and has been in the crowd for a few matches at White Hart Lane, sometimes giving pre-match interviews on the touchline.
Director Antoine Fuqua wanted to cast Liotta in American Gangster (2007) before the film was put on hold and Fuqua was replaced.
Has appeared in a film for Jonathan Demme (Something Wild (1986)), and his nephew Ted Demme (Blow (2001)). He also appeared in Hannibal (2001), the sequel to Demme's film The Silence of the Lambs (1991). So, while he has appeared in a Demme film and a Lecter film, he has never done both at the same time.
In an interview with Smoke Magazine, Liotta said he is "mostly Scottish with a bit of Italian". But in 2006, he tracked down his biological mother and learned that his biological father was not Italian at all.
When he was 6 months old, he was adopted from a Newark, New Jersey, orphanage by Alfred and Mary Liotta, the owners of a chain of automotive-supply stores. One of his earliest memories is of helping his parents pick out Linda, his sister, at an orphanage when he was 3 years old.
Was Tim Burton's first choice to play Harvey Dent in Batman (1989), but turned it down to do Goodfellas (1990) instead.
Has a nephew who is also named Ray Liotta who plays on a farm team for the Kansas City Royals.
Claims that he only did Operation Dumbo Drop (1995) for the money.
Was the original choice for the role of Dignam in The Departed (2006), however had to reluctantly decline due to other commitments.
Lives in Pacific Palisades, California.

Personal Quotes (23)

It would be nice to do a movie where I didn't have to choke the girl to get her.
(when asked why he did the voice of Tommy Vercetti for the video game "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City") "For the money."
"Something Wild was my first movie. I was in an acting class and on a soap opera for three-and-a-half years in New York - I moved to L.A. at 25 and nothing was really going on for like a five-year period. I was still in acting class, I was in class all through Goodfellas actually, and I talked to some of the guys and they said, "Are you up for this movie, Something Wild?" and I said, "No." But I decided I really wanted to be up for it even though [Jonathan] Demme had already narrowed it down to three people. I'd been to college with Melanie Griffith's then-husband Steven Bauer and I called her up and said, "y'know, can you get me in and I felt weird about it, but here I am, thirty years old and I haven't done anything yet and I'd read the script and felt like I could do that as well as anyone out there so why not me?" She got me in, she insisted that Jonathan see me, and it just worked out with me." - On landing Something Wild.
"Nothing. It's just make-believe. I don't think it's good to personalize it. If you do, it's limiting. The actors that do personalize it are the ones that always seem the same in every movie they do. I don't really look at it in any kind of deep psychological way that I learn something about myself. Aside from taking up the acting challenges, I'm really glad I took on the challenge of playing Sinatra, as scary as it was. I learned somewhat about myself - that I could do it and I knew what was bothering me - the fears that I had." - On what he learns about himself through the characters he plays.
"I wasn't crazy about the way things were going. I wanted to be a little more proactive with my career instead of waiting for something to come to me, so I formed a production company with my wife [Michelle Grace] and a partner, Diane Nabatoff, and changed agents - I really just wanted to clean house and start fresh. The first script I got was Narc and I really responded to it; it reminded me of a 70s type movie, I really liked the characters, I didn't anticipate the ending. I wanted to go that way and really get proactive with my career - take some control in it and redirect it in a direction that I liked." - On Narc.
"I only did it to get my foot in the door and because you never know what can happen." - On his first film, The Lonely Lady.
Bad guys stand out in people's minds. If you think about De Niro or Pacino, you're not going to stay Stanley and Iris, you are not going to say Author! Author! Even with Brando, you are going to say The Godfather or Street Car. It is the edgier characters that are remembered. That's my rationalization.
What I really am is a homebody. I was a homebody even before I had a family. My days are filled with home stuff.
It's the oily skin. It gives you zits when you are a teenager, but then it doesn't wrinkle as you get older. [on why he looks a lot younger]
People have all these preconceptions about me. Whereas if you look at the roles, Henry Hill was the nicest guy in Goodfellas! I was a nice guy too in the comedy Heartbreakers. And I was a really sweet father to Johnny Depp in Blow!
Okay there was an edginess to the guy, but he never killed anyone. All he did was beat up the guy who was harming girlfriend. And a major point in the film was how he couldn't be made because he was part Irish and part Italian. But then they also say I'm Italian and I'm mostly Scottish with a bit of Italian. So, it doesn't track sometimes. - on preconceptions about him based on his role in Goodfellas (1990).
I've only been in one fight in my whole life... in 7th grade, yet everyone thinks I'm a maniac.
Research is good to a degree, to learn how to hold a gun. You want to look like you know what you're doing and get a basic sense. But your imagination is all you need. They say that the imagination is more powerful than knowledge.
[on his most challenging role] Probably The Rat Pack (1998), taking on Sinatra. That was uh, very intimidating. I didn't know that much about him. I'm not an imitator. You know, to do him without going into caricature was harder than maybe what [the others had to do]. Sammy has a certain pattern, and Dean had a certain pattern, Frank was just so much more raw. I didn't think I look like him; I had to sing the songs. I mean, I'm really glad I did it, but at first, it was just terrifying for months. All I did was listen, watch, or read about Sinatra.
(groaning) Well, Turbulence (1997) is a whole 'nother story. Umm... that one got by me. I mean, I felt good with what I did. It is what it was, and whatever... You know, Turbulence, you know what? The movies I was doing weren't becoming huge box office things, and that really gives you leverage in this business, and that seemed to have a commercial potential, [which] was the wrong reason to go into it. But that's what led me, just out of frustration, and also, sometimes after a while, you just have to pick the best of the lot. This is the profession I chose, and you really learn to save your money because you never know how it's going to go, but you still want to get out there and work.
[on choosing his roles] I knew, after Something Wild (1986), in it I was a splashy bad guy, and I'd read enough, I knew there was typecasting out there. I held out a long time to get Dominick and Eugene (1988), and then Field of Dreams (1989) and Goodfellas (1990) just kind of fell into my lap. Then, I started getting a little too picky and choosy and I figure well, after Goodfellas, next thing you know, they think I'm Italian, even though Henry was an Irish guy, and I myself am adopted, so I'm not Italian. They're really quick to put you in a hole, so I figured playing a heart surgeon in a black comedy (Article 99 (1992)) would be a good thing to do. It was, but Orion went bankrupt, so you know, the way you choose to do it is different each time.
There's not a day that goes by that I don't hear somebody mention Goodfellas (1990), unless I stay home all night. It's defined who I am, in a sense.
[1997] Actors a bunch of hot air when you really look at what's life about and the real trials and tribulations, day in and day out.
[on his off-screen persona] If I'm playing a nice guy, I'm great on the set. If I'm not, I'm a dick. I'm sure I'm going to be unbearably wonderful while I'm playing the preacher.
You know how they have stand-ins when they're doing the lighting? I always do my own standing-in. That way I stay in the zone and nobody asks me anything, except to move left or right.
I subscribe to the theory that luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
[on how he got started in acting] I went to the University of Miami because, basically, at that time, if you had a pulse, you could get in. I was only there because my dad said: 'Go to college, take whatever you want, just go out and experience things.' This was 1973. There was an acting teacher there called Buckets. He was a guy's guy, man. Drinking, edgy, dark glasses all the time - and he was a great teacher. He took me under his wing because I was so raw. I didn't give a shit. I really didn't.
There's nothing worse than working with somebody who doesn't know what they're doing, especially if you've had experience. It gets really frustrating - then I can be a dick on set.

Salary (1)

No Escape (1994) $1,500,000

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