GQ Interviews the Cast of Goodfellas, 20 Years Later

GQ has a fascinating article about the classic gangster movie Goodfellas. Looking back on the film, it’s hard to believe it was made 20 years ago.

The article features a mind-boggling number of brief interviews, with many (many) of the actors and folks behind the scenes. In addition to commentary from Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci and Liotta… there are brief asides from folks like Frank Vincent (who played Billy Batts, and told Pesci to Go get your shine box) and Paul Sorvino (who played Paul Cicero, aka Paulie)

Madonna, Tom Cruise and Eddie Murphy also get mentioned in the article, if you can believe it. And John Malkovich too, who said: “It’s hard to explain why you end up in Eragon and not GoodFellas.” Heh.

As you would expect, many of the classic scenes from the infinitely quotable movie are discussed. One of my favorites is the long Steadicam shot where Henry takes Karen out to the Copa, but goes in through the back way.

Brian De Palma had just done this incredibly long Steadicam shot in The Untouchables, and Marty said it would be funny to try to do it one minute longer than De Palma’s. The world perceives this as “Oh, the Copacabana scene!” But what it really is, is directors behind the scenes having fun fucking with each other.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to find an embeddable version of the scene, so if you’d like to see it again, you’ll have to watch it on YouTube.

Another great scene is the one between Pesci and Liotta, where Henry calls Pesci’s character “a funny guy.” The mood goes from playful to ominous, and it’s a brilliant moment. One second it’s a funny story, and the next… everyone (the audience and the other cast members) are wondering what’s going to happen next. The silence from Liotta is incredible and makes it as tense as some of the more violent scenes.

According to other cast members, Scorsese created an atmosphere on the set where it was difficult to distinguish when the camera was on and off. As a result, everyone was really comfortable… and several classic moments in the movie were a direct result of things that were made up on the spot.

Again, no embeddable link… so you’ll have to watch it on YouTube. But it’s a great scene. Pesci is funny like a clown.

Looking back on this movie, it’s tied very much with my time in college. I’m sure I must have scene it while I was in high school… but the movie itself makes me think of being an undergraduate. After our first year in the dorms, I moved in to a house off-campus with four other friends… and I can still picture the couch and the TV set up in our living room.

Maybe it was something about being away from home, about living on our own for the very first time. I know that for me, those early years of college felt very much like I was living a life different than most – on the peripherals of the regular working world.

One of my roommates, Chris Conlin, loved Goodfellas immensely and rented it more times than I can count. It was one of those movies where, if you walked by and saw it on… you got sucked in. You sat down, and you didn’t go anywhere.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I didn’t know there were actual mob guys in the movie. That’s hilarious how they just made up Social Security numbers.

    juliet Reply

  2. This is a great line: It’s three o’clock in the morning, and I’m getting into a car in Brooklyn to get beat up by De Niro and Liotta.

    juliet Reply

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