Ray Liotta ‘Had Plans’ to Continue Acting Before His Death

by Emily Morgan

“Black Bird” executive producer, writer, and showrunner Dennis Lehane recently opened up about working with Ray Liotta. Liotta died suddenly on May 26 at 67.

When he died, Liotta had finished working on his final role in the six-episode drama. The show was adapted from James Keene’s 2010 book, In With The Devil. The show revolves around Keene, played by Taron Egerton, a Chicago drug dealer, and the son of an ex-cop, played by Ray Liotta. In 1996, Keene is convicted and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

According to Lehane, working with the Goodfellas actor was a dream come true. 

“I wrote the part for him and he jumped at it,” said Lehane in an interview about working with Liotta. “He’s always been one of my favorite actors and I consider him one of the most underutilized actors out there.”

In the new Apple+ series, which premieres on July 8, viewers will see Liotta’s onscreen son get offered a deal. He can transfer to a maximum-security prison in Missouri and befriend serial killer Larry Hall, played by Paul Walter Hauser. Additionally, if he can get a confession from the killer, his sentence will be commuted. He’ll serve out the rest of his time if he can’t.

Although the show centers on Keene, there’s no denying the incredible performance of Liotta, which Lehane attributes to his fantastic “range” as a tenured actor who worked on blockbuster films such as Field of DreamsSomething Wild, and Blow. 

“We’d never met. When he came on set Ray was there to work, which I love,” he said of his work ethic. “He wasn’t there to party, to get to know anybody, and we completely hit it off on that level.”

The last conversation ‘Black Bird’ showrunner had with Ray Liotta

He continued: “Having said all that, he wasn’t a touchy-feely, huggy guy. But the first thing he did when he saw Taron was he walked up and hugged him and that established the father/son relationship right there.”

According to the showrunner, “Black Bird” was also just the beginning of their working relationship together. “He was an absolute joy. We had plans from that point on that he was going to be in everything with me,” he said.

Sadly, that would never come to fruition. Liotta passed away in May while shooting a movie in the Dominican Republic. 

“The last conversation we had was three weeks before he died. He was such an actor, he was like, “Am I in the next thing?” and I was like, “Of course you’re in the next thing” and he said, “Make it a big part this time!”

He added: “One thing you couldn’t do with Ray was you couldn’t lie to him. If he asked you a question and you gave him a weak answer you were in trouble, put it that way. One of the best exchanges I had with him, he was like, “Dennis, why would you write this?” and I was like, “Well, it was nine months ago, Ray, I don’t f—king know,” and he was like, “Fair enough” and on we went.”