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R.I.P. Ray Liotta, Goodfellas and Field of Dreams Actor Dead at 67

The actor reportedly passed away in his sleep

Ray Liotta Goodfellas
Ray Liotta in Goodfellas
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    Ray Liotta, the veteran actor known for his roles in Goodfellas and Field of Dreams, has died at the age of 67.

    According to Deadline, Liotta passed away in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was shooting the film Dangerous Waters. No cause of death has been made public at this time.

    Born December 18th, 1954, Liotta was bartending in New York when he caught his first break with a role on the daytime soap opera Another World. He joined the series in 1978 but left in 1981 to test his luck in Hollywood, booking parts on a Casablanca TV show and the crime drama Our Family Honor, before netting his first major film role in the Jonathan Demme-directed Something Wild (1986). The part earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

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    In 1989 Liotta starred as the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, in which he convinced an Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner) to build a baseball diamond in a corn field. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

    He followed that in 1990 with one of the greatest individual performances ever committed to film, starring as Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Liotta began the movie as a young man looking for a place to belong, and traced Hill’s evolution to a swaggering young capo and then a strung-out gangster whose life is falling apart.

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    Liotta seemed poised to become a major star, but he had trouble capitalizing on Goodfellas’ success. In the flurry of movies that followed, he appeared in a few modest hits — No Escape (1994), Operation Dumbo Drop (1995), Cop Land (1997), and the telefilm The Rat Pack (1998), for which he was nominated for a SAG Award  — as well as more than a few flops.

    His first resurgence began in 1999 with a small role in Muppets in Space, followed by a substantial supporting part in 2001’s Hannibal and  a turn as Johnny Depp’s father in 2002’s Blow. That same year, his performance in the undercover cop drama Narc drew rave reviews and is often cited as among Liotta’s best work. But his career was also entering a more self-referential phase, lending his voice to the “Brian Does Hollywood” episode of Family Guy and starring as himself in Just Shoot Me!

    While he is primarily remembered for his film roles, Liotta also helped revolutionize the young video game industry, providing the voice for Tommy Vercetti in 2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It was the first time the GTA franchise had featured a protagonist who speaks, and Vice City was not only the bestselling game of 2022, it was also named Game of the Year by IGN and Playstation 2 Game of the Year by GameSpot and Entertainment Weekly.

    Liotta won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2005 for a guest spot on ER, returned to the Jim Henson muppetverse with 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted, and earned his second SAG nomination for the 2015 miniseries Texas Rising.

    In recent years, he’s had memorable turns on Modern Family, The Simpsons, Young Family, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He also co-starred with Jennifer Lopez in the NBC drama Shades of Blue from 2016-18, played opposite Taron Egerton in the Apple TV+ series Black Bird, and appeared in multiple episodes of Prime Video’s Hanna.

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    In 2021, he starred in David Chase’s prequel to The Sopranos, The Many Saints of NewarkLiotta recently wrapped filming on the Elizabeth Banks-directed Cocaine Bear, and was set to appear in in-production films The Substance, Dangerous Waters, and a drama about the Rodney King riots, April 29, 1992.

    His passing was mourned by collaborators across his five-decade career. “I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray,” wrote Goodfellas co-star Lorraine Bracco. “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.

    The Many Saints of Newark’s Alessandro Nivola said, “I feel so lucky to have squared off against this legend in one of his final roles. The scenes we did together were among the all time highlights of my acting career. He was dangerous, unpredictable, hilarious, and generous with his praise for other actors. Too soon.”

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    James Mangold recalled him as a “sweet, playful and passionate collaborator and brilliant actor.” Jamie Lee Curtis added, “A gentle man. So sad to hear.” Cary Elwes called Liotta, “An extraordinary talent whose remarkable performances left an indelible mark on the screen.” Check out a selection of remembrances below.

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