Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Kevin Costner have paid tribute to the “uniquely gifted” Ray Liotta, who has died age 67.
The actor died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic where he was making a new film. No foul play is suspected.
Liotta is best known for playing real-life mobster Henry Hill in the classic gangster movie Goodfellas in 1990.
Its director, Martin Scorsese, said he was “absolutely shocked and devastated by the sudden, unexpected death”.
“He was so uniquely gifted, so adventurous, so courageous as an actor,” he said in a statement.
“Playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas was a tall order, because the character had so many different facets, so many complicated layers, 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.”
Robert De Niro starred alongside Liotta in the film and released a statement that said: “I was very saddened to learn of Ray’s passing. He is way too way young to have left us.”
Lorraine Bracco, who played his wife, said she was “utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray”.
She tweeted: “I can be anywhere in the world and people will come up and tell me their favourite movie is Goodfellas.
“Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same…Ray Liotta.”
Kevin Costner and Seth Rogen were among others paying tribute to the New Jersey-born star.
Liotta appeared as a famous baseball player in Costner’s Field Of Dreams and the actor tweeted a clip of the pair from the movie.
“Devastated to hear the news of Ray Liotta’s passing,” he said.
“While he leaves an incredible legacy, he’ll always be ‘Shoeless Joe Jackson’ in my heart. What happened that moment in the film was real. God gave us that stunt. Now God has Ray.”
Rogen, who worked with Liotta on 2009’s Observe and Report, called him a “talented and hilarious person” and said “working with him was one of the great joys of my career”.
Born in Newark, New Jersey in December 1954, Liotta’s first break came with the role of Ray Sinclair in Something Wild in 1986, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.
After being abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, he was adopted at six months by township clerk Mary and auto-parts store owner Alfred Liotta.
He also played Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and in a 1998 TV film, The Rat Pack, he portrayed the legendary Frank Sinatra.
His Broadway debut came in 2004 in dramatic comedy Match, while he also appeared in Muppets From Space and Muppets Most Wanted.
His career was still very much active. Recent projects included The Many Saints of Newark, Marriage Story and No Sudden Move.
Speaking in 2016, Liotta said he had regrets about the course of his career – including turning down the chance to audition for Tim Burton’s Batman film.
“I wish I’d handled my career differently but, you know, hindsight…” he commented.
“When I did my first movie, Tim Burton was getting ready to do Batman, and he was interested in me because he wanted it to be edgy and real.
“I thought, ‘Batman? That’s a stupid idea,’ even though he had just done one of my favourite movies of all time, Beetlejuice. So, yes, I regret not auditioning for that.”
Goodfellas remained the film for which he was best known – something he was comfortable with.
“People ask if I’m bothered by that, but no, Goodfellas will be a top 10 movie for years and years, it seems,” he said.
“I have kids coming up to me like the movie’s just come out that week… That and Field Of Dreams. I get a lot of Field Of Dreams lovers too.”