By John H. Foote
Ray Liotta, 67, died in his sleep on Wednesday.
The actor was not known to have been ill, and the passing has come as a terrible shock to his family and friends.
Liotta shot to stardom in the eighties with a superb performance as the ex-convict Charlie in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild (1988). He followed that with a haunting performance as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the wonderful sports film Field of Dreams (1989).
That led directly to Martin Scorsese casting him in the role for which he is best known, Henry Hill in GoodFellas (1990). Nominated for six Academy Awards, GoodFellas is widely considered Scorsese’s greatest film and one of the best of the decade.
He has been among the busiest actors of the last 20 years, seen recently in Marriage Story (2019) and The Many Saints of Newark (2021).
A gifted actor, Liotta will be missed. He was famous for his maniacal laugh, and for an intensity that was often alarming.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.