Martin Scorsese says Ray Liotta was “adamant” about finishing a scene before going to see his dying mother.
The ‘Goodfellas’ director called watching the late actor - who died, aged 67, late last month while filming ‘Dangerous Waters’ in the Dominican Republic - play Henry Hill in the legendary 90s mob movie “a rare experience” amid the news of his mother Marty Liotta’s cancer diagnosis.
In an op-ed penned for the Guardian newspaper on Monday (06.06.22), the 79-year-old movie maker wrote: “I told him that he had to go to be with her, but he was adamant: he wanted to do the scene before he left. We walked to the set together, everyone was told what was happening, and something extraordinary happened when we rolled. The scene was all about the euphoria of the characters after making their first big score, and everyone came together in an emotional bond around Ray: as everyone was laughing and celebrating, they were mourning with him at the same time. Laughter and tears, tears and laughter … they were one and the same. Ray did the scene so beautifully, and then he left to be with his beloved mother. It was a rare experience.”
Martin “will never forget” the time he filmed together - along with his co-stars Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro - after he got the sad news.
He wrote: “I will never forget the day we shot the scene where Henry, Tommy (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy (Robert De Niro) bring their tribute money from the Air France heist to Paulie, played by Paul Sorvino. When they were setting up, I got word that Ray had just gotten a call with bad news. I went right to his trailer and found him completely distraught. His mother was dying. I remember that he kept saying: “She adopted me and raised me, she’s the sweetest woman there is – why does she have this terrible cancer? Why?”
The ‘Taxi Driver’ director also detailed how he fought to cast Ray in the 1990 adaptation of crime journalist Nicholas Pileggi’s 1985 book ‘Wiseguy’ after seeing him in ‘Something Wild’ and how he wished he “had the chance” to talk the ‘Marriage Story’ one more time.
Martin said: “I wish I’d had the chance to see him just once more, too – to tell him just how much the work we did together meant to me. But maybe he knew that. I hope so.”