Actor Ray Liotta’s immortal opening lines from the start of Goodfellas were recently voted as the greatest intro in cinema history.
Liotta sadly passed away yesterday, 26 May. The revered actor died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was filming forthcoming movie Dangerous Waters.
Since his passing, people have been remembering some of Liotta's most notorious and iconic roles – his portrayal of Henry Hill in Goodfellas perhaps his standout performance.
Liotta's character Hill narrates in the film’s iconic opening scene, in which he and fellow mobsters Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro pull over to the side of the road and brutally execute a man stashed in the trunk of their car, shooting and stabbing him multiple times, while Liotta’s character Hill looks on silently, his face lit up by the red rear lights before an abrupt smash cut to the opening credits.
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster," Liotta's opening line goes.
Goodfellas is frequently referred to as one of the most rewatchable films of all time, and with that one brief scene almost everything you need to know about the rest of the movie and its characters are perfectly encapsulated in under two minutes, with Liotta’s deadpan narration providing a tight summary of its tone and themes.
The moment was ranked as No.1 in a user-voted poll of cinemas greatest opening lines by Shortlist back in February, beating out stiff competition from films like Full Metal Jacket, Stand By Me and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas to narrowly claim the top spot.
The world was shocked by the news of Liotta’s passing at the age of 67. Among the first to lead tributes to the departed actor was Liotta’s Goodfellas co-star Robert DeNiro, who said in a statement he 'was very saddened to learn of Ray's passing'.
DeNiro added: “He is way too young to have left us. May he Rest in Peace.”
Director Martin Scorcese also shared a heartfelt tribute to Liotta, saying he was 'absolutely shocked and devastated' by the news and that he would always be proud of their work together.
"Playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas was a tall order, because the character had so many different facets, so many complicated layers, and Ray was in almost every scene of a long, tough shoot," the filmmaker explained.
"He absolutely amazed me, and I'll always be proud of the work we did together on that picture.
"My heart goes out to his loved ones, and it aches for his loss, way too early."
Fellow Goodfellas actress Lorraine Branco also said she was 'shattered' to hear the news of her former co-star's death, sharing a picture of the two of them together on Twitter, while saying that being with him had been the best part of making the film.
Featured Image Credit: Goodfellas
Topics: TV and Film