After “Goodfellas” came out in 1990, Ray Liotta got a call out of the blue: It was the man he portrayed in the film, mobster-turned-informant Henry Hill.
Hill told the actor he would “love to sit down and talk with ya,” and the two agreed to meet at Jerry’s Deli in the Valley at the bowling alley, Liotta told The Post in 2020.
“And the first thing he said was, ‘Thanks for not making me look like a scumbag!’ And I said, ‘Serious? Did you see the movie? You cheated on your wife, you were dealing drugs when your crew told you not to.’ I wondered what made him think that he wasn’t.
“It was an interesting perspective that people have of themselves.”
The actor, who died Thursday at the age of 67, explained how he prepared for his most famous role. First, he read the non-fiction book the film was based on, 1985’s “Wiseguy,” by Nicholas Pileggi, which focuses on Hill. Pileggi also co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with director Martin Scorsese.
Read more New York Post coverage of Ray Liotta’s death
“When I got the role Marty took myself and Lorraine and Nick Pileggi, the writer, and the casting agent to Rao’s in Harlem. And we sat and talked. I talked a lot with Nick Pileggi, and he gave me the tapes that he used for interviewing Henry for the book ‘Wiseguy,’” Liotta recalled.
“I would take my mother’s car and listen to the cassette. I’d just listen to it over and over and over again.”
Liotta told The Post that Scorsese didn’t want him to meet with Hill beforehand.
“I didn’t care one way or the other. I think he was afraid [that] maybe he’ll change the story or manipulate things. We just took what was in the book that Nick Pileggi wrote, and then Marty and Nick worked on the script. I know Bob was talking to him, but I didn’t talk to him at all, and I didn’t feel the need to because of listening to the tapes that Nick gave me of Henry being interviewed for the book,” the actor said, referring to Robert De Niro.
Liotta told The Post that he would bump into Hill with his brother every now and then in Venice, California.
Hill, who died in June 2012, became an FBI informant and testified against his cohorts.
“There was nothing in his story that paralleled or intersected with my life,” Liotta said about playing Hill. “I couldn’t relate to anything.”