When Ray Liotta was in “Goodfellas,” he wasn’t thinking about doing TV. After all, in the ’90s, television wasn’t something an film actor aspired to make.
“I was in movies [and] when I started, if you were doing a television show or commercials or something, you were at the end of the line,” Liotta said in an interview with IndieWire at the 2018 ATX TV Festival. “The films were drying up and these people starting going into [TV]. Karl Malden — an unbelievable actor who was in ‘On the Waterfront’ — he’s doing ‘Streets of San Francisco,’ but it was toward the end of his career.”
“As I’m learning [now], as [actors] get older and older, the less they want to travel, and television shows are mostly in one place,” Liotta said. “But no — [it also meant] your career was over.”
Then came the golden age of television, and with it, a role Liotta considers one of his favorites — big screen or small.
“I loved doing it,” he said. “I’m hungry to do another 13-episode type thing.”
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“Shades of Blue” will end its three-season run Sunday night with an hourlong series finale. Titled “By Virtue Fall,” Episode 10 marks the end of the road for Liotta’s corrupt police detective Matt Wozniak, but the actor isn’t ready to say goodbye.
“I’m truly, truly gonna miss doing it because it was a great, great character,” Liotta said. “I really think that yeah, Jennifer [Lopez] was great, but you go and get Edie Falco and we’re off and running again. It was that well-constructed and you never really knew what was going to happen.”
Liotta said what initially drew him to the character was Wozniak’s sexuality, which was revealed during Season 1 and remained a critical piece of the character’s story throughout the show.
“[I took the part] because the guy was bisexual,” Liotta said. “That’s a very different kind of thing to do for television. I’m not on that team, but it was fun.”
Liotta also mentioned that having Barry Levinson come on board to direct the pilot made a big difference in his desire to join the show, but noted a particular fear that stood out from the get-go.
“The biggest [opposing] factor, to be really honest, was that I was little nervous about doing it with Jennifer Lopez,” he said. “Luckily, Jenny from the Block came out, and she’s actually really really good in it.”
Now, Liotta just wishes Lopez wanted to make more episodes.
“I loved doing the show. I’m really going to miss the character, and I think Jennifer’s fucked up for not wanting to do it,” Liotta said, before clarifying his comment. “No, no — the only reason [she wants to leave] is because the dance show [can be as long as] two hours [per episode] and the series is a lot of work. It’s really hard.”
Liotta is referring to Lopez’s hit NBC reality series, “World of Dance.” In a recent interview with IndieWire’s Michael Schneider on the Turn It On podcast, Lopez said it was the “perfect time” for her to move on, but admitted others were on board for more episodes.
“I really loved this character and could have done it another couple of years, easily,” she said. “They would have. But it was time. This character of all the characters I’ve played is probably my favorite. And one that affected me the most. Permeated my soul.”
The entire interview with Ray Liotta can be seen below, courtesy of the ATX TV Festival. (Conversation focusing on “Shades of Blue” begins around the 37-minute mark.)
The “Shades of Blue” finale airs Sunday, August 19 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.