Today we're devastated over the passing of movie legend Ray Liotta, who died at the age of 67 in his sleep while filming a new movie in the Dominican Republic. Liotta was best known for his intense acting, usually as a mafia man or a crooked cop, but he also played more sensitive roles over the course of his career. He was a distinctive actor who improved everything he was in. "He was so uniquely gifted, so adventurous, so courageous as an actor," his Goodfellas director Martin Scorsese said in a statement paying tribute to Liotta.
One of the best ways to remember Liotta is to watch some of his best work. We've put together a list of some of our favorite roles of Liotta's in film and TV, including Goodfellas and Field of Dreams, and where to stream them.
Perhaps Liotta's most famous role was playing real-life mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese's mafia epic Goodfellas, which put him on a level playing field with two titans of Scorsese's oeuvre: Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro. The film tracks a gangster-obsessed Henry from his days as a kid in Brooklyn to rising up the ranks of the mob to entering the witness protection program after things go south. Liotta is a force in this, and he's responsible for one of modern cinema's most memorable quotes: "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."
Baseball! Few movies capture the mystique and wonder of America's pastime like Field of Dreams, Phil Alden Robinson's emotional ode to the sport. Liotta plays Chicago White Sox legend Shoeless Joe Jackson, who became a pariah after his involvement in the Chicago Black Sox World Series fixing scandal. Kevin Costner stars as the farmer who builds a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa that draws the ghosts of baseball greats.
Liotta's breakout film was great director Jonathan Demme's 1986 comedy Something Wild. He jumped off the screen with his live-wire performance as Ray Sinclair, the career criminal ex-husband of Melanie Griffith's Audrey, who is now involved with out-of-his-depth yuppie Charlie (Jeff Daniels). Liotta steals every scene he's in, as his signature threatening but charming presence arrives fully formed. -Liam Mathews
Liotta played a crooked cop who actually felt bad about being crooked in this rock solid '90s crime drama. Sylvester Stallone stars in a rare regular-guy role as the sheriff of a small New Jersey town where many of the residents are NYPD officers involved in organized crime who decides to stop letting the dirty cops get away with it. Liotta was part of an ensemble cast stacked with heavyweight actors, including Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and a bunch of familiar faces from Goodfellas and The Sopranos.
An underrated neo-noir crime thriller, Killing Them Softly features an excellent supporting performance from Liotta as mobster Markie Trattman. Set during the 2008 financial crisis, it revolves around the violent chaos that spins out after two desperate, small-time thieves decide to rob Markie's poker game. Liotta knew his way around a mafia story better than most, and among a stacked cast that included Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, and Ben Mendelsohn, he stood out, making his nebbish character the film's most surprisingly sympathetic figure. -Allison Picurro
When Liotta wasn't playing gangsters, he was playing cops. Dirty cops. There was something about Liotta that was a perfect fit for the role, and it's on full display in Narc, a massively underrated crime drama written and directed by Joe Carnahan. As Detroit detective Henry Oak, Liotta fully breaks bad while investigating the murder of an undercover narcotics agent, at odds with another agent (Jason Patric). This is a gritty cop movie with a purely concentrated Liotta performance energizing it.
Liotta had great taste in roles, and he brought his distinctive brand of blue-eyed menace to indie movies that benefited from his charisma. He was firmly in his wheelhouse in this underrated and soulful crime drama from director Derek Cianfrance, playing a corrupt cop named DeLuca who ropes a younger cop played by Bradley Cooper into his gang within the police department. Liotta was never nominated for an Oscar, but this is one of the films he should have been. -Liam Mathews
It still pains us to admit that this Sopranos prequel film is not very good, but Liotta's performance is one of its bright spots. He plays twin wiseguys Dick and Salvatore Moltisanti, Dickie Moltisanti's (Alessandra Nivola) father and uncle, respectively. His performance as Sally, a convicted murderer whose life sentence has made him philosophical, is particularly good. Goodfellas and the Sopranos franchise share more than two dozen actors, and Liotta was the latest addition — and the biggest. -Liam Mathews
Liotta didn't have a lot of regular television roles (he was in the 1985 ABC drama Our Family Honor and was recently seen in Amazon Prime Video's Hanna), but later in his career he took a starring role in the NBC police procedural Shades of Blue. The series starred Jennifer Lopez as a NYPD detective working with a corrupt lieutenant played by, you guessed it, Ray Liotta. The series ran for three seasons from 2016-2018 and was generally regarded as a solid cop show.