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“I felt he’s much more Henry Hill”: Elizabeth Banks Claims ‘Cocaine Bear’ Star Late Actor Ray Liotta Embodies His Iconic ‘Goodfellas’ Character as Hollywood’s Bad Boy Set to Make Posthumous Appearance on Big Screen

“I felt he’s much more Henry Hill”: Elizabeth Banks Claims ‘Cocaine Bear’ Star Late Actor Ray Liotta Embodies His Iconic ‘Goodfellas’ Character as Hollywood’s Bad Boy Set to Make Posthumous Appearance on Big Screen

When Rachel asked Monica – “That cute waiter guy from your restaurant, the one that looks like a non-threatening Ray Liotta?” – the world did a double take at the level of awareness that the question held within its innocently worded structure. Everyone knew it, at some basic subconscious level, but no one ever actively said it out loud for fear of sounding ignorant or causing offense. But that has always been the kind of mystery shrouding the late actor and enigma that’s Ray Liotta.

A year after the shocking and devastating death of the Hollywood icon, Liotta is set to make a posthumous appearance in the outrageous Elizabeth Banks film, Cocaine Bear, set to hit the theatres today.

Cocaine Bear (2023)
Cocaine Bear (2023)

Also read: “I don’t see how that loses”: After Cocaine Bear, Elizabeth Banks Wants to Direct Cocaine Shark, Based on True Events, as Spider-Man Star Laments Losing Thor: Ragnarok to Taika Waititi

Elizabeth Banks Reminisces About Late Actor Ray Liotta

While Cocaine Bear is busy making the rounds for its bonkers script and peak execution, Elizabeth Banks, its director who has seen and experienced much in her time in Hollywood puts Ray Liotta on a pedestal above the rest, someplace that is truly deserving of the late actor who crashed into the silver screens 33 years ago with GoodFellas like a hurricane of talent, charm, and persona, and has remained unstoppable ever since.

“Well, I loved working with Ray. He came so joyfully to the set of the movie, he totally got the tone. You know, I had worked with him previously [on the 2011 film, The Details]. I found him to be so charming and not at all like the tough guy that he’s portrayed so often. I felt he’s much more Henry Hill, you know — he’s got a big heart and he’s actually very sweet and funny.

He asked for more jokes when he read the script, which I loved. He was like, ‘Everybody seems like they have some funny lines, I need to be quirkier in this movie.’ He was such a gift to me. He came to set every day excited, committed, professional. He gave a beautiful speech when he wrapped to our crew. He brought tears to people’s eyes. He was just a delight.”

Ray Liotta in Cocaine Bear
Ray Liotta in Cocaine Bear

Also read: Remembering Ray Liotta: His Greatest Cult Classic Movies, Ranked

When an actor and director of the caliber of Elizabeth Banks combines her brilliance and star power with the ingenious creativity of Ray Liotta, the project is bound to be as extraordinary as can be expected by the audience and then some. Loosely based on a true story, Cocaine Bear witnesses Liotta playing the part of a druglord, Dentwood, whose cargo containing a massive shipment of cocaine crashes into a forest and is consumed by a bear which then goes on a coke-induced killing spree across town for the next 48 hours.

Ray Liotta: The Life of the Legendary Hollywood Icon

When the Martin Scorsese-directed Goodfellas came onto the screens, the sheer level of beauty held in each frame of the biographical crime drama achieved two milestones simultaneously: establishing Scorsese as the ultimate master in his craft and introducing the world to Ray Liotta. Since his debut as the anti-heroic protagonist of the film, Henry Hill, the actor went nowhere but up from there, steadily racking up a reputation as the ultimate Hollywood bad boy of the silver screens. But the image that he projected on the screen was poles apart from the reputation that he incurred and held among his co-stars within the industry.

Ray Liotta
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill in GoodFellas

Also read: “I will never forget”: Martin Scorsese Regrets Not Working With Ray Liotta After GoodFellas

On May 2022, in a year that had already witnessed too much senseless tragedy and catastrophe, news broke of Ray Liotta’s untimely passing at the age of 67 from cardiac arrest. The world mourned in unison as Hollywood reeled from the loss of one of its most treasured edifices. Martin Scorsese, a month later, grieved how he failed to reunite with Liotta on screen in a touching, tributary, nostalgic, and gut-wrenching interview with The Guardian.

Cocaine Bear is Liotta’s final complete role before his untimely passing on 26 May 2022. At the time of his death, the actor was in the middle of filming, Dangerous Waters.

Cocaine Bear is now playing in theatres worldwide.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Written by Diya Majumdar

It's 2023 and Diya Majumdar's social life is defined by a 365-day binge-marathon of films and television shows. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, she now has more than 1000 published articles on Fandomwire, and her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema. She happens to be a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh, and hardly anything fascinates her more than painting exact replicas of all their troubled works – in oil, of course.