The Major ‘Goodfellas’ Role the Studio Discussed Tom Cruise Playing

by Jeremy Spirogis
Tom Cruise at the

When studying about basic movies or TV sequence, you’ll typically hear about an actor who sounds all mistaken for an element however was within the operating anyway. The hunt for an actor to play the Homeland lead presents a fantastic instance. At one level, Halle Berry was the popular decide at Showtime.

But the extra you learn, the extra you understand that’s normal working process in Hollywood. When casting a significant function, studio heads naturally hope the largest star obtainable will match the invoice. They’re not operating The Actors Studio, in spite of everything.

That’s mainly how the casting went for the lead function/narrator Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990). In an oral historical past of the movie’s making, producers recalled the hesitance to solid Ray Liotta as Hill as a result of he wasn’t a star. Tom Cruise, then again, was.

Tom Cruise had the starpower the studio wished for ‘Goodfellas’ lead Henry Hill

Tom Cruise at the '89 Oscars
1989: Tom Cruise attends an Academy Awards afterparty. | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection through Getty Images

Before you do a spit-take imagining Cruise as Henry Hill, do not forget that the actor wasn’t solely identified for flashing his tacky smile and shouting “Bar’s open!” in movies like Cocktail (1988). After his efficiency in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Cruise obtained Best Actor nominations from numerous revered critic associations (together with NYFCA).

What’s extra, Cruise acquitted himself properly sufficient within the Scorsese-directed The Color of Money (1986) just some years earlier. So the thought wasn’t fully far-fetched. Goodfellas govt producer Barbara De Fina shed some mild on the casting course of in GQ’s 2010 oral historical past of the movie.

“I don’t remember there being a lot of choices about who could play Henry Hill,” De Fina mentioned. “There weren’t a lot of actors who could pull it off.” While Scorsese believed Liotta may, De Fina defined why he was a protracted shot. “Ray wasn’t a big star,” she mentioned.

Soon sufficient, Cruise turned a part of the “discussion,” as legendary producer Irwin Winkler put it. It doesn’t appear as if Scorsese took the prospect of Cruise taking part in the lead all that severely. “Marty wanted Ray very badly,” Winkler mentioned. Eventually, the director obtained his want.

Ray Liotta satisfied ‘Goodfellas’ decision-makers he was the person to play Hill

'Goodfellas' cast with Martin Scorsese'Goodfellas' cast with Martin Scorsese
‘Goodfellas’ director Martin Scorsese with stars Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci | The LIFE Picture Collection through Getty Images

So how lengthy did it take for everybody to heat as much as the concept of Liotta because the lead in Goodfellas? “I think I was the first person that Marty met, but it took maybe a year,” Liotta advised GQ. “It was a very, very long process.” That entire time, producers had been pitching alternate options to Liotta.

“Frankly, I thought we could do a lot better,” Winkler mentioned. “I kept putting [Scorsese] off saying, ‘Let’s keep looking.’” But Scorsese saved discovering causes that pointed to Liotta being good for the Hill half. An expertise on the Venice Film Festival stood out. At the time, Scorsese had heavy safety round him due to the Last Temptation of Christ (1988) backlash.

“Ray approached me in the lobby and the bodyguards moved toward him, and he had an interesting way of reacting,” Scorsese recalled within the 2010 oral historical past. “[Ray] held his ground, but made them understand he was no threat. I liked his behavior at that moment, and I saw, Oh, he understands that situation. That’s something you wouldn’t have to explain to him.”

In one other likelihood encounter, Liotta noticed Winkler at a restaurant in Venice and made his pitch. After that chat, Winkler known as Scorsese and advised him he was bought on Liotta. Tom Cruise was formally out.

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