While Scorsese had directed both De Niro and Pesci prior to Goodfellas, he had never worked with Ray Liotta. In order to better mold the young actor to the movie’s – and Scorsese’s – standards, the director didn’t allow Liotta to meet with the real-life Henry Hill. His thought process was that the real Henry Hill would influence Liotta too much, and would make it more difficult to get Liotta to act the way Scorsese demanded.
It wasn’t until 2004 that Henry Hill and Ray Liotta met, which is pictured above. Once again, Scorsese’s odd methods ended up producing a movie that has withstood the test of time.
Pacino As Jimmy Conway?
Al Pacino, who played the main character of the Godfather trilogy, was offered the role of Jimmy Conway, but turned it down, afraid of being typecast. Instead of playing in this legendary movie alongside legendary actors and under the helm of a legendary director, Pacino chose to play Big Boy Caprice in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy.
It was an especially odd decision since Big Boy Caprice is a gangster who ran a criminal enterprise – basically the exact same character as Jimmy Conway, even if the film's tone is different. Pacino later admitted that passing on Goodfellas was a mistake. You think?
Lorraine Bracco's Extremely Precious Jewelry
Scorsese and De Niro weren't the only ones who demanded perfection when it came to the details of the film. Karen Hill, who was played by Lorraine Bracco, demanded that the jewelry her character wore, and the jewelry that littered across her dresser in her home, be authentic.
Against all odds, the film's production designer came through for her, and ended up renting expensive gold and stoned jewelry for the film. Apparently armed guards stood to watch over the jewelry every day between shots. We hope that all of the authenticity was worth it, though the result of the film certainly makes it seem like it.
The Real-Life Henry Hill
Despite not being able to meet with the man, Liotta still wanted to get into the mind of the real Henry Hill. While driving, he would listen to interviews Hill did with writer Nicholas Pileggi. Hill would discuss murders and other crimes on the tapes, unable or unwilling to hold his tongue. Hill could even be heard munching on potato chips during the interviews.
Those who listen to the famous radio program the Howard Stern Show will already know some of this information since Henry Hill was a common guest who had no qualms about detailing illegal activities.
Real Life Relatives
Martin isn't the only Scorsese to appear in the film – there are two more. The first is mama Scorsese – Catherine – who also plays a mother in the film. She's Tommy's mother, and manages to hold her own in a scene with De Niro, Liotta, and Pesci. Martin's father – Charlies – is also in the film, as the prisoner who puts too many onions in the tomato sauce during the prison scene.
Later on in the film, Charles' character kills Tommy. Careful, Charles. Catherine is going to dislike that, and an Italian mama's revenge is never sated.