Ray Liotta, Kevin Corrigan, Tony Darrow and Michael Rapaport at the Tribeca Film Festival Goodfellas Reunion
“For as long as I can remember,” Henry Hill tells us, “I always wanted to be a gangster.” And so it begins, Martin Scorsese’s iconic gangster film, Goodfellas (1990). From Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito, demanding to know if he is “funny like I'm a clown,” to the single take of Henry and Karen walking through the Copacabana Club, Goodfellas is a masterwork of cinema, packed with memorable moments.
Now, 25 years after its release, filmgoers at the Tribeca Film Festival were offered a special chance to revisit the movie on the big screen and hear from some of its cast members. The festival closed with a Goodfellas retrospective showcase.
Indiezone.TV chatted with the stars who came to relive their work in the classic film. We started by asking Ray Liotta, who portrayed Hill, what it was like to be directed by Scorsese.
“As a director, he’s just unparalleled,” the actor said. “He’s so passionate about making film that it’s exhilarating to be around.”
Liotta believes our natural obsession with the darker side of society is a big reason the film is beloved by so many. “It’s just unbelievable what people do to each other,” he continued. “It’s an inside look at a lifestyle that a lot of people don’t know about. And it was done in such a great, entertaining way that I think people responded to it.”
And what about that scene with Pesci? “It was a blast doing ‘you’re a funny guy’ with Joe,” Liotta reminisced.
Ray Liotta Talks Goodfellas, 25 Years After Henry Hill Hit the Big Screen
Liotta’s co-star, Kevin Corrigan, played Michael Hill in the film. For him, Goodfellas was a story about the American Dream, albeit “the dark side of the American dream….It’s kind of like lighting off fireworks,” Corrigan noted. “You light it up, you watch it go, you watch it explode, and then it’s ‘Let’s do it again!’ This movie is the ultimate tale of excess and hubris.”
Kevin Corrigan on Watching Goodfellas’ Version of the American Dream
Actor Tony Darrow played Sonny Bunza. Appearing in what was only his second film at the time, Darrow revealed his fear that he’d screwed up in a scene with the legendary Robert De Niro, Pesci, and Liotta. The scene finished filming before the veteran actors said their dialogue. “For some reason, I had the first line,” Darrow explained. “I looked into the camera and said, ‘What an f--ing shame.’ Marty said ‘Cut. That’s it! He said it all right there.’’
On why Goodfellas endures, Darrow called the film authentic, explaining how he grew up in the same neighborhood the movie takes place in, and that he knew the real-life Tommy DeVito, Tommy “Two Gunn” DeSimone. Darrow admits, “He was scary.”
Tony Darrow on Stealing Dialogue from De Niro on the Set of Goodfellas
The retrospective drew more actors to the red carpet than ones who appeared in the film! Actor Michael Rapaport came because he’s such a huge fan of Scorsese’s work. When we asked what makes the director so electric, Rapaport opined, “His creativity, his uniqueness, his independence.”
Michael Rapaport on Why Martin Scorsese’s One of the Greats
As these interviews attest, Goodfellas has earned its designation as one of the Library of Congress’s culturally significant films. That’s about as close as a movie can get to being a made man, the life its characters always aspired to.