“My mom lived in New Jersey,” he told the L.A. Times. “So every weekend I would go home. She passed away in the middle of filming. Doing that movie and that character was a dream come true. But I do have mixed feelings about it.”
Heavy accents aside, Liotta grew up in the middle-class neighborhood of Union, New Jersey, as the elder of two children. His father was Italian and his mother Scottish and Irish, and they ran an auto parts business and later attempted to run for political offices.
He described his upbringing as “regular, normal” and considered himself to be a goody-goody who “never wanted to get in trouble.”
He got into acting as an accident when he had to fill in for a sick classmate in a sixth-grade play and felt like “a nervous wreck.” And because he was too small to be any good at basketball in high school, he joined the drama club.
While in college, he told the L.A. Times, a pretty girl at registration asked if he was going out for the play that night, and the next thing he knew, he was auditioning for “Cabaret.”
“I had no idea how to do any of this sort of stuff,” he said. “But my father’s philosophy was that you should try everything, see what’s out there and decide what you like. And if you make a fool of yourself, who cares?”
In 2005, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for a guest role as Charlie Metcalf on NBC’s “ER.” More recently, he played a dirty cop in NBC’s crime drama “Shades of Blue” and starred in the “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark,” Netflix’s “Marriage Story” and in the upcoming Apple TV+ crime thriller series “Black Bird.”
According to Deadline, Liotta had just finished work on the Elizabeth Banks-directed “Cocaine Bear” and was due to star in the Working Title film “The Substance” opposite Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley.
Liotta is survived by his fiancee, Jacy Nittolo, and daughter Karsen.
(L.A. Times staff writer Christi Carras contributed to this report.)
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