Ray Liotta nearly appeared in HBO’s The Sopranos, but it’s actually a good thing that he didn’t. Ray Liotta is one of the biggest names when it comes to mobster movies, with him appearing in all kinds of classic films that have defined the genre. Because of this, it made sense for him to appear in a mobster homage like The Sopranos. However, having Liotta involved in the series would have actually hurt The Sopranos.
The Sopranos started airing in 1999, with it quickly becoming one of HBO’s most popular shows. The James Gandolfini-led mobster series turns many of the genre’s most prominent tropes on its head, allowing it to function both as a mobster story and an examination of mobster stories as a genre. While The Sopranos launched the careers of many of its main stars, it also has some pretty big-name appearances from actors like Steve Buscemi and Joe Pantoliano. Goodfellas actor Ray Liotta was another mobster star that could have made an appearance in The Sopranos, but it turned out to be a smart choice not to feature him.
Ray Liotta Wasn’t Right For The Sopranos’ Tone
Although Ray Liotta would have been a great grab for The Sopranos, the actor just wasn’t right for the show’s tone. When casting The Sopranos, series creator David Chase originally wanted Ray Liotta to appear in the series. Although HBO never officially offered him a role, the idea of Ray Liotta in The Sopranos feels like a natural fit. In practice, however, the actor clearly wasn’t right for the show.
Unlike movies like Goodfellas, which glorify the world of the mafia, The Sopranos is about the downfall of the mob. While Ray Liotta mobster movies are flashy and look at the organized crime world with rose-tinted glasses, The Sopranos‘ mobsters are all elderly and dying, with the world leaving them behind. Having Ray Liotta appear in this story would have created a juxtaposition that simply wouldn’t have worked, as the mobster movies that Ray Liotta is associated with are the tonal opposite of The Sopranos.
Many Saints Of Newark Wasted Ray Liotta’s Sopranos Role
Although he didn’t end up appearing in The Sopranos, Ray Liotta did make his franchise debut in The Many Saints of Newark. The prequel film features Ray Liotta playing two characters, acting as both of the Moltisanti twins. Liotta fits much better in this corner of The Sopranos universe, as The Many Saints of Newark is set in the 1960s and 1970s, the height of organized crime. Unlike the downfall of the mafia that The Sopranos shows, The Many Saints of Newark shows its glory days, something that Ray Liotta perfectly reflects.
However, Ray Liotta’s role was still wasted despite the lack of tonal problems. Although he fits in better, The Many Saints of Newark just isn’t very good, with it not living up to the quality of the original show. The film’s quality is a shame, as it not only ended The Sopranos franchise on a bad note, but it was also one of Ray Liotta’s last films before his tragic passing. Although his appearance may not have been the best, at least Ray Liotta was able to influence the world of The Sopranos in some form.