Air Sic

Ray Liotta Holds Forth About His New Film, His Acting Oeuvre, And His Reaction To Ignorant Questions By Uninformed Journalists.
By Piers Marchant

TW: I saw Turbulence last night....

RL: And you loved it!

TW: (nervous laughter) Well, it had some interesting stuff. Specifically one scene, near the middle. It's rolling along, a lot of action, and then there's that strange scene with Lauren Holly. You're talking to her for some minutes, like it could be in a bar, anywhere. How did you work out that scene?

RL: Well, hmmm. There was a lot of discussion about whether we should slow it down, or if it should be rock-and-roll from beginning to end. You don't realize I'm a nut job for 25 minutes or so. What we tried to do was to give it some depth and dimension. This isn't a whole character piece or anything, it's just a fun movie for people who like these kind of movies. Obviously, you don't.

TW: I would say it's not my favorite genre, but what makes these films interesting is what they manage to do with characters, even inside that tight little genre.

RL: There was a fight between the producers about whether we should put a scene like that in, but it was interesting. The lighting and the whole feel of the funhouse up there was pretty cool. There's a certain way that serial killers are very charming, and before they do their deed, they have to get someone. They are disarming, and then that evil kicks in.

TW: You seem to have an attraction for characters like that.

RL: Not really. If you were to break down the films I've been in, I'm mostly a nice guy. I was in a soap opera for a while where I was the nicest guy in the world. It's just that the bad guys stand out in people's minds. Those have been more successful than other movies I've done. If you had seen my body of work, you could pick out Dominick and Eugene or Corrina, Corrina, instead you chose to pick out movies where I was playing someone more intense.

TW: Where did you grow up?

RL: New Jersey.

TW: What were you like in high school?

RL: A jock. Played a lot of sports. Had no thoughts of becoming an actor, in fact I didn't really even go to movies.

TW: Then what turned you on to acting?

RL: I had no idea what I wanted to do, I didn't even want to go to college. But I went down to the U of Miami and I didn't want to do a lot of math and science, so I thought, why don't I just take theater and breeze around for a year? The first year all I did was musicals. I played a dancing waiter in Cabaret, and then I did West Side Story, The Sound of Music and I was just this jock from Jersey, so it was an alien world to me. And then I started to do Shakespeare and (Tennessee) Williams and doing all sorts of other plays to the detriment of my career because I like to do as many different things as I can.

TW: It sounds like you really look for challenges.

RL: Yeah, I try to make the best decisions that I can with what they give you. After Unforgettable, which was a really well-made film noir type movie that wasn't that successful, this came along, and you say, "Well, to get back on track you make these choices." The thing I liked about Turbulence is it had a great sense of humor. The guy is having fun. I was resistant at first but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. You know, I've done Operation Dumbo Drop--a Disney movie--and people don't remember that, so you know what? It doesn't matter what everyone else is saying, just do what you got to do. For a while I was caught up with that. You want to prove to people you can do something else but they don't mention it or even see--because most people (reporters) don't do their homework--then what's the point of worrying? I know my reasons, I know what's happening, so the perception just doesn't matter.

TW: Um. You must have been thrilled to get GoodFellas.

RL: That was great. When I first started, I watched a lot of Scorsese and De Niro. I liked their sensibilities, I liked the types of stories they told, the intensities of the characters. It intrigued me, which is why I do lean toward the edgier kind of guys. People who are committed to what they do and what they're feeling.

Turbulence is playing at El Dorado (745-6241), De Anza Drive-In (745-2240) and Century Park (620-0750) cinemas. TW

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