From ‘Goodfellas’ to ‘Field of Dreams,’ Ray Liotta’s movie roles fulfilled a ‘Wild’ promise
“Something Wild” (1986): Liotta had a breakthrough supporting role in director Jonathan Demme’s comedic thriller, playing the psychotic ex-husband of an alluring woman (Melanie Griffith), who drags an ordinary and understandably befuddled guy (Jeff Daniels) into a crazed adventure. Filled with menace and edge, Liotta’s performance was, in hindsight, a significant promise of what was to come.
“Dominick and Eugene” (1988): Liotta played a medical student looking after his brother (Tom Hulce), a person with an intellectual disability, and forced to make decisions about his future in this sensitive drama.
“Goodfellas” (1990): Liotta starred as mobster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s exceedingly violent, fact-based look at the mob and his character’s downfall, in a genre-defining film that also featured Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci as the sort of wiseguys you definitely didn’t want to be accused of laughing at.
“The Rat Pack” (1998): Liotta took a slightly different turn in this breezy HBO movie in which he portrayed Frank Sinatra at the height of his fame, carousing his way through Vegas — and hanging out with President Kennedy (William Petersen) — along with pals Dean Martin (Joe Mantegna), Sammy Davis Jr. (Don Cheadle) and Peter Lawford (Angus Macfadyen).
“The Many Saints of Newark” (2021): Revisiting the organized-crime neighborhood, Liotta appeared in a dual role as twin brothers in writer-producer David Chase’s prequel to “The Sopranos,” which looks at the history of the Moltisanti family, as well as the formative years of the young Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini).