Ray Liotta was on an emotional high while filming “Cocaine Bear,” according to Elizabeth Banks.
The late “Goodfellas” actor, who unexpectedly died in his sleep in May 2022, wowed the “Cocaine Bear” cast and crew as production wrapped, delivering a moving speech about what production in Ireland meant to him.
“He wrapped his last scene, and he was covered in blood and guts — and then he gave this beautiful speech,” Banks told Esquire. “He said, ‘I’m adopted. My last name’s Liotta, and because of my career, everybody assumes I’m Italian, but I recently found out that I am actually mostly Irish.’ And we’re in Ireland.”
Banks continued, “He said, ‘So this trip has been so special to me because I didn’t understand the connection that I actually had to this place and to the Irish people. And everybody’s been so nice.’ I could tear up thinking about how moved everybody was. He truly brought tears to the eyes of the crew, because he talked about how special the time was in Ireland.”
The “Charlie’s Angels” helmer previously told People that Liotta was “so joyfully into it” all of filming “Cocaine Bear.” Banks noted that Liotta and his fiancée Jacy Nittolo “looked like teenage lovers” while on location for the feature.
“[That] the image that I have of him,” Banks recalled. “Not from set or playing the character, but of him just living his best life in Ireland on this beautiful night, walking on this street with a woman that he loved.”
Banks previously collaborated with Liotta on the 2011 comedy “The Details,” which led to his casting in “Cocaine Bear.”
“I’ve been told by people [in Hollywood], ‘I don’t know if you can direct those things because I don’t know if male actors will follow you,'” Banks told Yahoo! Entertainment. “And I say to that, ‘When Henry Hill follows you, you can make anything you want.’ So that was the gift that Ray gave to me. He gave me the confidence to know that I can direct anybody doing anything.”
Martin Scorsese, Taron Egerton, David Chase, Jamie Lee Curtis, Alessandro Nivola, Lorraine Bracco, and Viola Davis also remembered the actor after his sudden passing last year.
“Playing Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas’ was a tall order, because the character had so many different facets, so many complicated layers,” director Scorsese shared, “and Ray was in almost every scene of a long, tough shoot. He absolutely amazed me, and I’ll always be proud of the work we did together on that picture. My heart goes out to his loved ones, and it aches for his loss, way too early.”
Liotta’s “Goodfellas” co-star Robert De Niro also wrote at the time, “I was very saddened to learn of Ray’s passing. He is way too young to have left us.”