Ray Liotta explains why he turned down a role in The Sopranos

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Ray Liotta has explained why he did not appear in The Sopranos, after years of rumours that he once turned down the lead role of Tony Soprano.

The actor is best known for his roles as gangsters in Goodfellas and now The Many Saints of Newark, which serves as a prequel to The Sopranos TV series and was co-written by its creator, David Chase.

Speaking to Screen Rant, Liotta denied rumours that he once turned down a major role in the critically adored series.

“I was never offered anything in it,” he said. “David Chase wanted me to do something in season three or four, but it didn’t work out.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Liotta specified that it was the role of Ralphie (ultimately played by Joe Pantolioano) he was approached about, “but never Tony”.

“I didn’t want to do another mafia thing, and I was shooting Hannibal,” he explained as his reason for turning Chase down. “It just didn’t feel right at the time.”

Liotta also told Screen Rant that while he had watched “some” of the series, “the good thing about this movie is you don’t have to watch the series in order to appreciate the movie”.

The Many Saints of Newark has received positive reviews from critics. The Independent awarded the film four stars, calling it a “fierce and brilliant” prequel.

Corey Stoll says Ray Liotta had to audition for ‘Many Saints of Newark’

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Corey Stoll admits there are some perks to being bald.

The New York-born actor, 45, said at the premiere of “The Many Saints of Newark” that, unlike Ray Liotta, he didn’t have to audition for his role as a young Uncle Junior.

“I’m kind of embarrassed, even Ray Liotta had to,” he told Page Six sheepishly.

“There are some advantages to being bald,” he jokingly added. “I think that’s what it is.”

Stoll said it’s “so cool” to be a part of the eagerly awaited movie, a prequel to “The Sopranos.”

“I was just starting my career as the series was ending and I never got an audition,” he revealed. “I asked my agent constantly and I never got to, and then out of the blue [I got a call]. I didn’t even know this project was happening. I got this offer and I won the lottery.”

Also on the red carpet was Michael Gandolfini, playing a young version of his late father, James Gandolfini, who anchored the series as Tony Soprano. He said that the evening was “mostly sweet.”

“I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants here,” Michael, 22, continued. “As a young actor, this is one of the most incredible experiences I could ever ask for, so to be here and celebrating this thing is really incredible.”

The star-studded cast of “The Many Saints of Newark.” ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

The film — which also stars Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom. Jr., Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga — had its glittery premiere on Wednesday night at the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side as the opening event of the Tribeca Fall Preview.

Warner Bros. did not reply for comment regarding Liotta auditioning for the role of “Hollywood” Dick Moltisanti.

Ray Liotta: “when The Many Saints of Newark came about, I wasn’t on the tip of anybody’s tongue”

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Ray Liotta, star of Goodfellas, is making a grand return to the Mafioso life with The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to The Sopranos. True to life, he plays ageing mobster Aldo ‘Hollywood Dick’ Moltisanti in the drama movie.

A celebrated actor involved in some of the best movies of all time, Liotta turned down The Sopranos once upon a time. Now, some years later, he had to do some convincing to get a role in the film. Alas, all’s well that ends well, and David Chase, Lawrence Konner, and Alan Taylor’s cinematic take on the DiMeo crime family is all the richer for it.

In our brief chat with him, Liotta explains exactly why he wanted to be in this picture so badly, discussing his respect for David Chase, and where he stands on the Sopranos now. Born in Newark, he also tells us a little bit about what it was like to grow up at a point when racial segregation was still holding on, and some wanted to keep it that way.

The Digital Fix: I’ve read that you chased after David Chase for this part – what made you want to be a part of The Many Saints of Newark?

Ray Liotta: No pun intended – I did chase David Chase. I’d heard about it, and I wasn’t getting any offers or anything, and it’d been a while since I did Goodfellas. David Chase once came to where I was working, took a three-hour train ride to ask me to play a character in one of The Sopranos, and it just didn’t feel right for me. But the appreciation that I had that somebody as great as him, that he came to ask me if I want to do it, I was just really flattered.

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When this movie came about, I was not on the tip of anybody’s tongue about getting this. I talked to my agent, I live in LA, he said they’re only casting in New York, I said ‘I don’t care, I just want to sit in front of David Chase and Alan Taylor, the director, I’m just interested in doing it’. Only because, even though I didn’t watch the series, I saw enough of it to know ‘Whoa, this guy really knows what he’s talking about’ – that’s a rare bird in Hollywood, and it worked out.

The Sopranos was a monumental series. Has your opinion of it changed since not watching it when it aired?

I relate to it so much as anything, it was just working with David. I’ve handled my career sometimes a little too preciously, so if I played a bad guy, then I want to play a good guy, and then after a while, you just say ‘Whatever’s the best part’, you do two bad guys in a row, so be it’.

I really wanted to work with somebody as talented as David Chase and Alan Taylor, and I just went after it. I don’t know if I answered your question, but I got something off my chest.

Being from Newark, what do you remember about the 1967 riots and political strife in the city around that time?

I was born in Newark, I grew up maybe a half-hour from it, I remember being in junior high school and high school, and the racial tension. There was just a lot of it around, and there’d be fights, and at football games, there’d be one group on one side, and another group on another side.

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Silly crap that unfortunately still happens today. It’s crazy and it’s ridiculous that it hasn’t been learned and worked out already, but this is what happened, especially at that time.

The Many Saints of Newark is in theatres on September 22 in the UK, and October 1 in the US.