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How Ray Liotta Really Felt About GTA: Vice City

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Legendary Academy Award-winning actor Ray Liotta passed away on May 26, at the age of 67. Liotta is best known for his role as the protagonist in Martin Scorsese's crime classic "Goodfellas," in which he famously portrayed real-life mobster Henry Hill, sharing the screen with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco. Even today, "Goodfellas" has a beloved place in pop culture, as many consider it one of the greatest movies of all time, with Liotta's performance as a particular highlight.

However, gamers may know Liotta from somewhere else. Liotta played the iconic protagonist of Rockstar Game's "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," Tommy Vercetti. Upon release, "Vice City" was a massive success, becoming the fastest-selling video game in history at the time, selling 1.4 million copies in the first five days (per The Globe and Mail). The game's popularity put Liotta on the map as a talented voice actor alongside his work in Hollywood. But how did Liotta feel about going from a Hollywood actor to a video game star? Here is what Ray Liotta really thought about his landmark role in "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City."

Ray Liotta was surprised by the game's success

During an interview on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," shortly after the release of "Vice City," Ray Liotta was asked if he was surprised at how popular the game had become. Liotta replied, "Totally. I had no idea. I'm not a game player... I was never into that stuff at all." Additionally, the actor mentioned that, at the time of the interview, "Vice City" had already sold an impressive 8 million units and compared the game's gross profit to a movie making $400 million. And considering how much more a game costs than a movie ticket, that estimation is pretty accurate.

Liotta's surprise at the success of "Vice City" is understandable, as video games weren't quite as mainstream of a hobby as they are today. Even so, Liotta described his experience working on his first video game as a fun one. He jokingly said, "[When recording] you're just sitting there cursing at people." And anyone that has played "Vice City" will notice that a lot of Liotta's cursing made it into the final game.

Ray Liotta wasn't so sure about the game during production

Although "Vice City" was a massive success, the game's development was full of hardships. Specifically, as Journalist David Kushner detailed in his book "Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto," the developers encountered some difficulties in working with such big-name actors. According to Kushner, things got tense when developers first met with Liotta to discuss his role in the game. 

According to Wired, after having a few drinks and dining on some expensive steaks while swapping stories, "Liotta went cold for no reason, staring them down." Then Liotta snapped and said, "Why the f*** are you laughing?" At this point, it's safe to say the Rockstar devs were confused. But shortly after, Liotta laughed and said, "I'm f***ing with you!" Anyone that has seen "Goodfellas" would probably guess that he was apparently mimicking an iconic scene between himself and Joe Pesci, but it caught the devs off-guard. However, Liotta's awkward interactions with the developers didn't end there.

In Kohler's book, Rockstar developer Navid Khonsari mentioned an instance when Liotta limped into a recording session, sore from a baseball injury, and wearily said, "The last f***ing video game I played was 'Pong.'" Khonsair was offended by the actor's attitude and responded, "I don't really give a s*** what you do outside this, I mean, I loved you in 'Goodfellas,' but this is a job, and you gotta do this."

Ray Liotta looked back on his time with Rockstar fondly

In an interview with IGN shortly before the release of "Vice City," Liotta explained why he felt "Vice City" was different than other video games at the time. Liotta said, "There's great people on this one and I did my homework with it. I know it's a pretty intense game." He even assured the interviewer that he didn't regret taking the role, even though it may have seemed like a step down to the general public. More recently, In a Reddit AMA, Liotta was asked if he would play Tommy Vercetti again in a "Grand Theft Auto Movie" if he were given a chance. Liotta quickly replied, "I really would have loved to do that." 

In 2020, unconfirmed reports started cropping up that Liotta was coming in and out of Rockstar's offices. Many speculated that he was back working with the developers on a "Vice City" remaster, or even a brand new project. It's unclear if Rockstar indeed had plans to reunite with Liotta, but fans will always have "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" to remember him by.