This Classic Scene in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’ Was Ruined on the First Take
Among the roles Ray Liotta has had over his career, Henry Hill in Goodfellas is undoubtedly his greatest. The smooth, intimidating mobster who eventually becomes an unraveling paranoid is a classic character. Goodfellas itself is among the greatest gangster movies of all time and is arguably Martin Scorsese’s finest piece in the genre.
The Golden Globe-nominated actor recently gave an interview on The Rich Eisen Show. He dished up a lot about the mafia masterpiece and things that occurred during its fimling.
The ‘Goodfellas’ tracking scene was ruined on the first take
During an interview on The Rich Eisen Show, Liotta went into length about Goodfellas. He said that one of the most iconic scenes in the movie was ruined on the first take by someone who botched their lines.
“There’s like 100 extras, we’re going through the kitchen, we’ve got a guy picking up the table, and all of a sudden, we’re in the center of this thing,” the No Sudden Move star said according to The Hollywood Reporter. “She says, ‘What do you do?’ and I say, ‘I’m in construction.’ And then it goes up to Henny Youngman. And after all that, he forgot his lines. He forgot his own jokes. So we had to do it again because the whole thing was one shot.”
The scene is one of the best in the whole movie. It follows Henry and Karen as they enter a restaurant through the back. Henry knows everyone and has connections, and the scene shows how confident and well-known he is. It was all done in one shot with a steady cam, so they had to refilm the entire sequence again.
“There were no cutaways. It was on us as we sat down and then to Henny for his joke,” the wiseguy actor said. “He did it the second time, the third time. Everything was fine.”
Joe Pesci’s famous line was improvised
The most famous line to have come out of Goodfellas is without a doubt from Pesci’s “How am I funny?” scene. Apparently, the whole thing was improvised, which makes it all that more impressive.
“We had the luxury of having two weeks with rehearsal, me, Joe, Bob, Lorraine, and Martin Scorsese,” the Broadway actor said. “And Joe, because he’s a great storyteller, was just telling a story about how he was in Queens one day and he said something to a guy like what we’re thinking. The guy just turned on Joe on a dime.”
The famous scene in Goodfellas sees the group of mafia men sitting at a table in a restaurant. Pesci’s character is telling a funny story and after, Liotta’s character says he is a funny guy. Pesci loses it and says “I’m funny how? Like a clown? I’m here to amuse you? How am I funny?” The line has probably been repeated a million times since the movie came out.
“He told that story and Marty said ‘You know what? I like that and I know a good place to put it.’ So We just started kind of ad-libbing back and forth,” Liotta said. “When they thought that the scene was shaped to where it would sound good and then you know, it was part of the script that they wrote.”