RAY LIOTTA‘s star is very much in the ascendant in Hollywood today. Trevor Johnston watches as the former GoodFella becomes Bad Cop in Unlawful Entry.
hat‘s my main satisfaction from the job‘." squints Ray Liotta. repeating the question he‘s just been asked and giving it just that little bit more consideration. ‘Oh. I‘d say the
women. basically.‘ At which point he smiles.
looking generally rather pleased with himself.
A few seconds later and he‘s not quite so sure again. ‘Aww. look. I‘m joking. I‘m joking.‘ he stresses. his expression turning to half-quizzical frown. lie shakes his head. ‘Aww. Jeez. now you‘re gonna write that he doesn‘t really give a damn about all the acting stuff. he‘s just in it for the women. I don‘t know. Isn‘t there a law against all this stuff‘."
It‘s moments like this that enable the seen-it-all journo to mark Mr Liotta‘s card with no little confidence. Definitely one for the file marked ‘Up And Coming Star‘. but perhaps just for now he should go in the sub-section headed ‘l lasn‘t Quite Got The lIang ()fThe Publicity Thing Yet‘.
Then again. audiences are only just getting
the hang ofthe Ray Liotta thing. Before the
1987 rollercoaster yuppie nightmare flick
.S‘ometliing W ilcl . only aficionados of
daytime soap Another World or those with
nothing better to do with their lives than tune into the short-lived David Soul TV series C ‘asalilanca might feasibly have recognised the name. But then his white-knuckle performance as Melanie
Griffith‘s genuinely crazed boyfriend put
him on the movie map. And with his key role
in (Ioorllkilas playing l lenry llill — the witness at the centre of more criminal activity than you could shake a tree at — landing him the much-coveted Martin
Scorsese seal of approval. a major career
looked only just around the corner.
[Especially when his ghostly baseballer
‘Shoeless‘ .loe proved a plum supporting role
in Field o_/‘l)reanis. the sleeper hit that set
the seal on the (‘ostner phenomenon.
That it didn‘t exactly work out as smoothly as all that is in some part due to the actor‘s reluctance to be type-cast. but the vicissitudes of the business have seen to it that his new thriller Unlawful [intry is his first movie to get a wide UK release since the Scorsese offering a couple of years back. ‘After (ioocll’ellas I got sent a lot ofscripts
10'l‘he List 6- 1‘) November 1992
that were just the bad guy thing again. sol did Article 99 to take me off on a different direction.‘ he explains. those blue eyes every bit as piercing in real life as they are on screen. ‘lt‘s a medical drama where I play a heart surgeon and we put in a lot ofblack comedy like a kinda thing. But maybe not so successful. I don‘t know whether you‘ve seen that in Britain yet.‘ Well. actually we haven‘t. And his earlier turn in a white coat as the dedicated young doc looking after mentally handicapped twin
Ray Liotta (above) in Something Wild and (main pic) Unlawlul Entry: (bottom right) with Robert De Niro in GoodFellas.
brother 'l‘om l lulce in Dominick and liugcne didn‘t make much of an impact over here
either. the result being that in this neck of the woods we tend to associate the lad from
3 New Jersey with the villainous roles he‘s
keen to play down. ‘l’eople always ask me
i why I always play bad guys. Idon‘t. I‘ve
f done six movies and three of ‘em have been
t bad guys. three of ‘em good guys. For some
reason. though. these are just the things that stick out in people‘s minds. It just happens that way. I mean. think ofone ofyour favourite actors. like Robert De Niro for instance. If I asked you to name a De Niro movie. you‘d say Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. right? I don‘t think you‘d say Awakenings or Stanley and Iris.‘
llis point is well taken. yet his new movie
Unlawful Entry is hardly going to alter his image overnight. Again reﬂecting his uncanny ability to shift from dimple-checked affability to terrifying extremes of psychotic behaviour. he plays LA cop Pete Davis. the badge-wearing guardian of the law who helps out nice suburban couple Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe when their house is broken into. but who sticks around to make their lives a misery when they twig that he’s a deeply disturbed individual. The star‘s admission that he chose to do the movie ‘as a '
‘ way to getmyselfinto ahigher position’ .
reﬂects his awareness that it’s little more than a commercial thrill-machine. but that didn‘t stop him approaching the part with his customary seriousness.
‘Yeah. I went with the LA cops on what they call ride-alongs.‘ Liotta explains. ‘Not that I projected myself as any kind of big celebrity or anything. because that‘s not my style and. frankly. I don‘t think they give a shit about who‘s with them because whoever you are. you‘re facing the same dangers they have to deal with.‘ Confronting robberies. car chases and shootings over several weeks, the star maintains the most significant thing he learned ‘was that usually when you see a cop. it‘s because something bad has happened or you’ve done something bad. You see the badge and the gun and a certain kind of demeanour they use to protect themselves. What I got to find out is that they‘re human beings too. and that the job affects them. Because of the stress. there’s a high degree of drug abuse. suicide and marital breakdown. but of course nothing can justify something like the Rodney King incident. That was just a horrible. horrible thing to even watch.‘
With such new experiences to embrace — and for Article 99 he was in the operating theatre watching surgeons at work — Liotta I certainly seems to be relishing his work at l the moment. llis higher media profile. on
‘The worst thing that’s happened to me is 5 that I went out to dinner with Cher, because i she’s a friend of mine. Totally like platonic, but the papers had us shopping lorwedding rings together and all this crazy stuti.’
the other hand. hasn‘t been all plain sailing for him. As he himself has suggested. he certainly doesn‘t project himself as some glamorous celebrity — today he‘s in scruffy jeans with his shirt-tails hanging out — but his attitude to the constraints of recognition is one of pragmatic resignation. ‘I cope with it by making light of it. really. There‘s certain realities you wish wouldn‘t happen. but they‘re there and you just have to accept that ,' your life is going to be limited in some areas. The worst thing that‘s happened to me is that I went out to dinner with Cher. because she’s a friend ofmine. Totally like platonic. but i the papers had us shopping for wedding rings together and all this crazy stuff. I learnt a lot from that whole experience. Like ifyou gooutwith Cher. gointoabasement . . .’ j
Unlawful Entry opens in Scotland on Friday 6 November. For review, see Screen Test.