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The Character Ray Liotta Was Originally Supposed To Play On The Sopranos

Spoilers ahead for "The Many Saints of Newark."

Martin Scorsese's 1990 film "Goodfellas," adapted from Nicholas Pileggi's 1985 nonfiction book "Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family," is about the life of former mafia member Henry Hill and stands tall as one of the best movies about the mob in cinema. It also boasts one of the best performances from Ray Liotta, who plays Hill in the film. Playing the character has, arguably, permanently marked Liotta as the kind of actor who could perfectly play similarly shady mob types in movies and television.

For the release of Warner Bros.' "The Many Saints of Newark," a feature-length prequel to HBO's "The Sopranos," Liotta has returned to the press circuit to promote the project and his role. In the movie, audiences get two Liottas for the price of one. It's revealed he plays "Hollywood Dick" Moltisanti, the father of Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), and his twin brother, Salvatore "Sally" Moltisanti.

While discussing "The Many Saints of Newark" recently on "Late Night With Seth Meyers," Liotta shed light on his surprising connection to "The Sopranos," a project that is as integral to the mafia genre as "Goodfellas." The show, which ran for six seasons (and features Liotta's "Goodfellas" co-star Lorraine Bracco), follows Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a beleaguered mobster who contends with personal struggles while trying to make a life in organized crime feasible in New Jersey in the early '00s. According to Liotta, he was approached for a part in "The Sopranos" that was completely different from his dual role in the new prequel movie.

Ray Liotta almost played an obnoxious member of the DiMeo crime family

In an interview on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" (via YouTube), Ray Liotta revealed that "The Many Saints of Newark" was not his first brush with the universe of HBO's "The Sopranos," which ran from 1999 to 2007. The actor revealed that series creator David Chase had previously approached him to play Ralph "Ralphie" Cifaretto, a soldier for the DiMeo crime family. Liotta told host Seth Meyers how it happened, recalling, "I was in Virginia doing [the 2001 movie] 'Hannibal,' and [Chase] took a train out, and we had lunch, and they start telling me about the part. And I said, 'Nah, I'm not sure. I don't know. I'll let you know.'"

The Ralphie Cifaretto role eventually went to Joe Pantoliano, and the character was introduced in the Season 3 episode "Proshai, Livushka" (via IMDb). Ralphie was a key character in the show's third and fourth seasons until he met his demise at the hands of Tony Soprano in retaliation for a fire Tony suspected he started. Pantoliano took home a Primetime Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a drama in 2003 for his work (via the Emmys official site). Liotta concluded his story by joking about Pantoliano's win, remarking, "Joey Pants got it and won an Emmy. So I made the good move for him and the right move for me."

"The Many Saints of Newark" is currently in theaters and it is streaming on HBO Max until October 31.