(CW44 News At 10 | CNN) – Actor Ray Liotta, known for his roles in “Field of Dreams” and “Goodfellas,” has died.
He was 67 years old.
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“Ray was working on a project in the Dominican Republic called ‘Dangerous Waters’ when he passed away. He passed in dreams. He is survived by his daughter, Karsen, and his fiancée, Jacy Nittolo,” his publicist Jennifer Allen told CNN.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Liotta was the adopted son of Alfred and Mary Liotta, who also adopted a daughter, Linda.
He attended Union High School, where he excelled in sports, and later attended the University of Miami. He studied theater and participated in his first play, “Cabaret”.
After graduating from college, Liotta moved to New York City, where he got work in commercials and was cast as Joey Perrini on the soap opera “Another World,” in which he appeared from 1978 to 1981.
His performance as crazed ex-con Ray Sinclair in Jonathan Demme’s 1986 film “Something Wild” proved to be a breakthrough role for the actor.
Liotta followed up with an acclaimed performance as “Shoeless” baseball player Joe Jackson in the box office hit “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner.
His most memorable role, perhaps, was as real-life mobster Henry Hill in the 1990 movie “Goodfellas,” which cast him alongside heavy hitters Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.
Lorraine Bracco, who co-starred as Liotta’s wife in “Goodfellas,” paid tribute to him on Thursday.
“I am completely devastated to hear this terrible news about my Ray,” Bracco said in a tweet. “I can be anywhere in the world and people will come and tell me that his favorite movie is Goodfellas. Then they always ask what the best part of making that movie was. My answer has always been the same…Ray Liotta.”
Asked by The Guardian in 2021 why he never worked with Scorsese again given the director’s propensity to use some of the same actors in different projects, Liotta replied: “I don’t know, you’d have to ask him. But I would love it.
Not that he didn’t find a lot of work over the years.
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Liotta’s numerous film and television credits include “John Q,” “Blow,” “Operation Dumbo Drop,” “Hannibal,” “Wild Hogs,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
Most recently, Liotta narrated the television documentary series “The Making of the Mob” and starred in “The Many Saints of Newark,” the prequel film to the hit television series “The Sopranos.”
He played a lot of tough guys, but that wasn’t Liotta’s true personality.
“I’ve never been in a fight at all, except during sports, and that’s just silly kid stuff and jostling,” he told People magazine last year.
“Ray was the epitome of a tough guy who was all sentimental inside… I guess that’s what made him such an attractive actor to watch,” said Jennifer Lopez, who starred with Liotta in the TV police series, “Shades of Blue”. ”
“We enjoy doing our scenes together and I felt lucky to have him there to work and learn. Like all artists, he was complicated, sincere, honest and very emotional,” he wrote Thursday on Instagram. “Like a raw nerve, he was so accessible and so in touch in his performance and I will always remember our time together fondly. We lost a big one today.”
Liotta is currently involved in multiple projects, according to his IMDB profile.
Among them was “Cocaine Bear,” a thriller directed by actress Elizabeth Banks about what happens after a drug lord’s cocaine goes missing in a plane crash and is eaten by a bear. The film is scheduled for next year.
“When any actor of Ray’s caliber trusts you as a director, it’s a gift,” Banks said on Instagram. “Ray’s respect for me as a director, actress and artist, as his boss on set, meant the world to me because if you can direct Henry Hill, you can do anything in this town. I am so grateful that Ray Liotta has blessed my life. May he rest in peace.”
Liotta’s profile sank in recent decades as A-list projects mostly eluded him. But he never stopped working. And in his interview with People, Liotta seemed optimistic about the next phase of his career.
“It’s weird how this business works, because I’ve definitely had an up and down career,” he added. “For whatever reason, I’ve been busier this year than I’ve been in all the years I’ve been doing this. And I still feel like I’m not there yet. I just think there’s so much more.”
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