In 1990, Ray Liotta entered the great history of cinema with “The Goodfellas” by Martin Scorsese. 31 years later, he is in the cast of “Many Saints of Newark”, the film by David Chase and Alan Taylor, prequel to the great series of the 2000s “The Sopranos”. We had the chance to ask him a few questions about his character, what he finds in common between Martin Scorsese and David Chase and how he would define this new film.
There is obviously no need to introduce Ray Liotta, a “mouth” of American cinema whose performance as Henry Hill in The Freedmen by Martin Scorsese is unforgettable. A role that sticks to his skin and that made him an iconic thug of the big screen, a register that he paradoxically did not invest so much afterwards. So much so that in 2001 he revealed that he had refused an important role in … The Sopranos. He wanted to focus on the big screen then, but was not entirely closed to the idea. A few years later, another opportunity arises to join the famous series, which has become essential, and it is another missed appointment. Corn the third chance to collaborate with David Chase will be the right one, since he is showing Many Saints of Newark, prequel film of Soprano. He was asked a few questions about this new role.
How did you integrate the cast of Many Saints of Newark ?
Ray liotta : I had heard about the project. We hadn’t met about this yet, but David Chase and Alan Taylor were willing to see me. They were in New York and I told my agent I really liked the idea. I had already met David Chase before, who wanted to suggest that I join The Sopranos, but it hadn’t worked. I’ve always admired what he created, so I went to New York and met them for a lunch, with no guarantees. At the end of that lunch, they asked me if I wanted to play this mafia character. It happened, and I’m happy about it because I really wanted to work with David.
You have a dual role in Many Saints of Newark, can you tell us about that of “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti?
RL : He is the boss of a family, for a while, before his son takes the lead. Classically, family members paid him, redistributed the money for the thefts and misdeeds they committed. But now he is withdrawn, he has moved away from this life, and gives way to his son.
I’ve always liked this type of character, but in reality I’ve only played a member of the Mafia three times. No, actually only two. Henry Hill in The Freedmen is not really part of the Mafia, he is just an “errand boy”. I love the story that is told in Many Saints of Newark, I enjoyed it, and David is such a good screenwriter… It was really a pleasure to be part of it.
Standalone gangster film, prologue to Soprano, family drama … How to define Many Saints of Newark ?
RL : First of all, it’s very entertaining, it’s a film that exists on its own, you don’t have to see the series to understand and appreciate it. But these characters are also those that exist in The Sopranos, and this double aspect is precious. I believe, if I had to come up with one main idea for the film, that it would be the story of a family, blood ties and everything that family goes through.
You are one of the main characters of the great movie The Freedmen by Martin Scorsese. Do you see any similarities between his work and that of David Chase?
RL : Martin Scorsese and David Chase have in common the power to make you believe in the game you are playing, and it’s exhilarating. Like David, Marty is very attached to the writing and scripts of his stories, and what makes them unique is that they are endlessly passionate about what they do. They are both completely obsessed with the idea of ”making believe”.
I’ve been in this profession for a long time, and I understood that the big difference was in the level of passion, because the best films are always those whose authors are elated about them. And Marty and David are perfect examples of that.
You have several scenes with Alessandro Nivola, interpreter of Dickie Moltisanti. How did your collaboration go?
RL : With Alessandro, it was a good job. But I have to say I’m pretty lonely on sets and in Many Saints of Newark we don’t have a classic father-son relationship, beyond a simple love affair and argument, so I rather kept my distance! And since my character has a connection …