Holding a cigarette is one thing, but what about ketchup? De Niro also asked Hill how Burke would apply ketchup to his food, which he used in the scene in which Henry, Tommy, and Jimmy eat dinner at Tommy’s mother’s house.
The real Henry Hill informed De Niro that Burke would rub the glass bottle while applying ketchup, which is exactly what De Niro did during the scene at the dinner table. Like we said, De Niro is a master, and applying all of these details to his character is one of the reasons why people think so.
If there are any directions famous for their attention to detail in all aspects of a movie, then Martin Scorsese is at the top of the list. According to the late Ray Liotta, Scorsese spent so much time getting the cast's wardrobe correct that he didn't even let Liotta tie his own tie – Scorsese did it himself.
The clothes were required not only to accurately reflect the time period and the geography of New York, but they were also required for portraying the culture of the New York mafia. If you think just making sure a tie is right isn't all that attentive, then you just buckle up.
Extra Attention to Detail
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are both legends, and mostly thanks to each other. They've worked together a number of times, and not only are both of them incredible at their chosen craft, but they both take the film making business quite seriously.
In The Real Goodfella from 2006, the real-life Henry Hill said that Robert De Niro called him seven to eight times a day to ask him about Jimmy Burke, De Niro's character in the film. He called so often, and requested so much information, that he eventually started asking Hill about how Burke held his cigarettes.
Liotta Almost Said No
As an up and coming star, Liotta had more than one script on his plate when he chose to star in Goodfellas. He was also offered the role of Harvey Dent in Tim Burton's Batman, released in 1989. The decision was probably an easy one, thanks to the almighty cast in Goodfellas.
While Batman has also become a cultural touchstone and a memorable movie in its own right, it didn't reach to the heights of Goodfellas, and Liotta got to work with De Niro, Scorsese, and Joe Pesci. The role of Harvey Dent eventually went to Billy Dee Williams.
'How Am I Funny?'
Speaking of Joe Pesci, if there's one scene you've seen from Goodfellas, it's almost certainly the scene with the reckless Tommy DeVito, Pesci's character, dressing down Henry Hill, getting more and more threatening. It turns out that Pesci brought this idea to the movie after he lived it in his real life, when Pesci worked at a restaurant.
He told a mobster that he was funny, and the mobster didn't appreciate the intended compliment. When Scorsese learned about the incident, the director enjoyed it so much they put it in the film – it helped Pesci earn his Oscar.