Ray Liotta is an American actor, best known for his portrayal of Henry Hill in the crime-drama Goodfellas (1990) and for his role as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams (1989). He has won an Emmy Award and been nominated for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.
Life & Career[edit | edit source]
Liotta was born in Newark, New Jersey, and was adopted at the age of six months by Mary Liotta, an appointed township clerk, and Alfred Liotta, an auto parts store owner, personnel director, and the president of a local Democratic club. Both of his parents unsuccessfully ran for local office. Liotta's adoptive parents were of Italian and Scottish/Irish ancestry; his biological parents were not of Italian descent. In 1973, Liotta graduated from Union High School in Union, New Jersey and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1992. Liotta studied acting at the University of Miami, where he performed at the university's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre.
One of Liotta's earliest roles was as Joey Perrini on the soap opera Another World; he appeared on the show from 1978 to 1981. He infamously made his film debut in a sexual assault scene with Pia Zadora and a garden hose in the 1983 cult classic The Lonely Lady. In 1987, he earned his first Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of volatile ex-con Ray Sinclair in Jonathan Demme's film Something Wild (1986). In 1989, he costarred alongside Kevin Costner in the fantasy/drama film Field of Dreams—Liotta portrayed Shoeless Joe Jackson, the ghost of the famed baseball player. In 1990, Liotta portrayed real-life mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese's film Goodfellas. In 1992, he costarred as a psychopathic cop alongside Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe in the thriller Unlawful Entry. He also appeared in a leading role in the sci-fi/action film No Escape. Liotta would earn more critical praise for his turn in James Mangold's film Cop Land, starring alongside Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, and Harvey Keitel. In 1998, he received critical praise for his performance in the crime film Phoenix, in which he plays decent policeman Harry Collins who is also a compulsive gambler.
In addition to his film roles, Liotta portrayed singer Frank Sinatra in the 1998 TV movie The Rat Pack (for which he received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination), he provided the voice of Tommy Vercetti for the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and appeared in the television drama ER in 2004, playing Charlie Metcalf in the episode "Time of Death". The ER role earned Liotta an Emmy for "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series" (Liotta would later spoof himself and his Emmy win in Bee Movie). Liotta starred in the 2006 CBS television series Smith, which was pulled from the schedule after only three episodes had aired, and, in 2012, Liotta appeared as himself in a purely vocal role for the "What a Croc!" episode of the Disney Channel comedy series Phineas & Ferb.
Liotta played the father of drug dealer George Jung in the 2001 Johnny Depp film Blow and, in the following year, appeared as Det. Lt. Henry Oak in the Joe Carnahan-directed film Narc, a role that led to an Independent Spirit Award nomination and a Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards nomination for Best Supporting Male—many critics considered the role to be Liotta's career best. He then reunited with director James Mangold in 2003, alongside John Cusack and Alfred Molina, in the dark horror-thriller Identity. In 2005, he narrated Inside the Mafia for the National Geographic Channel. He later appeared in Smokin' Aces—reuniting with Narc director Carnahan—in which he portrayed an FBI agent named Donald Carruthers in one of the lead roles.
Liotta appeared with John Travolta in the movie Wild Hogs, in Battle in Seattle as the city's mayor, and in Hero Wanted as a detective alongside Cuba Gooding Jr.. He was also in Crossing Over, co-starring Harrison Ford. Liotta played Detective Harrison in the 2009 Jody Hill comedy Observe and Report as Seth Rogen's nemesis from the local police. In 2011, he starred in The Son of No One, opposite Channing Tatum and, for the first time in his career, Al Pacino.
Liotta's recent movies include Date Night with Steve Carell, Charlie St. Cloud with Zac Efron, the independent drama Snowmen, and The River Sorrow, which stars Liotta as a detective alongside Christian Slater and Ving Rhames. Liotta starred alongside Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini in the 2012 Andrew Dominik film Killing Them Softly and the 2013 Ariel Vromen film The Iceman features Liotta as the character of Roy DeMeo. As of April 2013, Liotta is working on acting roles in Suddenly and The Muppets ... Again!.