Ray Liotta once turned down a role in The Sopranos series: ‘I didn’t want to do another Mafia thing’
With his role as Henry Hill in the critically acclaimed film Goodfellas, Ray Liotta will forever be lumped together as one of the legendary gangsters of the silver screen.
Realizing that he could be characterized as the mobster, Liotta once turned down a role in The Sopranos series before helping launch the Golden Age of television that continues to this day.
And now, looking back in the rearview mirror, the actor couldn’t turn down the offer a second time, and has since landed the part in the new Sopranos prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark.
Confession: Ray Liotta, 66, admits turning down a role in The Sopranos series because he “didn’t want to do another Mafia thing” after Goodfellas; Liotta pictured in the upcoming Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints Of Newark
While on the promotion path for The Many Saints Of Newark, the Newark native confessed to hearing rumors that he had played Anthony “Tony” Soprano, the role famously and brilliantly played by the late James Gandolfini.
But Liotta, 66, opened up and admitted that he was approached by the show’s creator, David Chase, to play a different character.
‘New! I don’t know where that story comes from,” Liotta said of the offer to play Tony Soprano.
‘David’ [Chase] once talked to me about playing Ralphie. But never Tony.’
Stepping into his shoes: Liotta stars alongside Michael Gandolfini (pictured), son of the late James Gandolfini, in The Sopranos prequel film, The Many Saints Of Newark
His reasoning: Liotta says he was offered to play Ralphie in The Sopranos; Liotta pictured with costars in The Many Saints Of Newark
At the time, in 1999, Liotta felt like he needed to expand and play other characters that were presented to him.
“I didn’t want to do another mob thing, and I shot Hannibal,” the actor said the guard, in reference to the sequel to Silence of the Lambs he made in 2001, adding, “It just didn’t feel right at the time.”
Keep in mind that Liotta had also just appeared in the crime drama, mafia-related movie, Cop Land, in 1997.
The Ralphie character, who would have demanded a two-year commitment, would eventually go to actor Joe Pantoliano.
Bada bing: The Newark, New Jersey actor had already made a name for himself in the gangster genre in Goodfellas (1990) before he offered the role of Ralphie; he is pictured alongside co-stars Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino and Joe Pesci
Tale of Two Roles: While he turned down the offer to play Ralphie in The Sopranos, Liotta lobbied showmaker David Chase for a role in The Many Saints Of Newark
While Liotta was offered the role of Ralphie more than two decades ago, he decided to aggressively pursue a role in the prequel film; goes as far as spending his own money to catch a flight to meet Chase.
“I really don’t know what made me so determined. But I was and luckily it all worked out,” he explained.
In the film, the actor plays Aldo ‘Hollywood Dick’ Moltisanti, father of main character Richard ‘Dickie’ Moltisanti, played by Alessandro Nivola.
Set in the 1960s, the film focuses on the Newark Riots of 1967 as the young Tony Soprano and his rise to power are explored.
Chase co-wrote The Many Saints Of Newark with Lawrence Konner and it was directed by Alan Taylor, who worked behind the camera on the television show for nine episodes.
Back for more: The Sopranos creator David Chase co-wrote The Many Saints of Newark
The cast also includes Michael Gandolfini, who plays a young Anthony “Tony” Soprano, the real-life son of James Gandolfini.
In addition to Liotta, Gandolfini and Nivola, the film also stars Vera Farmiga (Livia Soprano, Tony’s mother), Corey Stoll (Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano Jr.), Billy Magnussen (Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri), John Magaro (Silvio Dante) , Samson Moeakiola (Salvatore ‘Big Pussy’ Bonpensiero), Alexandra Intrator (Janice Soprano), Chase Vacnin (Jackie Aprile), Robert Vincent Montano (Artie Bucco), Michela De Rossi (Giuseppina Bruno), Gabriella Piazza (Joanne Moltisanti) Leslie Odom Jr. (Harold McBrayer), Joey Diaz and Nick Vallelonga.
The Many Saints of Newark premieres in theaters October 1 and on HBO Max.
Coming: The Many Saints of Newark premieres in theaters October 1 and on HBO Max