Martin Scorsese Remembers Goodfellas Star Ray Liotta After His Death: 'He Absolutely Amazed Me'

·3 min read

Martin Scorsese is paying tribute to his Goodfellas star Ray Liotta.

The Emmy Award-winning actor died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, PEOPLE confirmed Thursday. He was engaged to fiancée Jacy Nittolo, and he was dad to daughter Karsen, 23, with ex-wife Michelle Grace.

Liotta is probably best known for playing real-life mobster Henry Hill in the 1990 Oscar-winning classic. Widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, the gangster epic received six Academy Award nominations and one win.

RELATED: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lorraine Bracco, Taron Egerton and More React to Ray Liotta's Death: 'Shattered'

Martin Scorsese tribute to ray liotta
Martin Scorsese tribute to ray liotta

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Scorsese, 79, remembered the actor in a moving statement to PEOPLE Thursday, saying, "I'm absolutely shocked and devastated by the sudden, unexpected death of Ray Liotta. He was so uniquely gifted, so adventurous, so courageous as an actor."

Continued the legendary director: "Playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas was a tall order, because the character had so many different facets, so many complicated layers, and Ray was in almost every scene of a long, tough shoot. He absolutely amazed me, and I'll always be proud of the work we did together on that picture. My heart goes out to his loved ones, and it aches for his loss, way too early."

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Lorraine Bracco, who starred alongside Liotta in Goodfellas, said she was "utterly shattered" by the news of Liotta's death on Thursday.

"I can be anywhere in the world & people will come up & tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas," she shared on Twitter alongside a photo of her and Liotta. "Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same…Ray Liotta."

RELATED: Inside Ray Liotta's Romance with Fiancée Jacy Nittolo — and How His Daughter Set Them Up: 'Love of My Life'

goodfellas
goodfellas

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Goodfellas costars Robert De Niro and Paul Sorvino also shared their condolences after Liotta's passing in separate statements to PEOPLE.

"I was very saddened to learn of Ray's passing. He is way too young to have left us," De Niro said.

Sorvino shared, "Ray was a terrific actor and a 'goodfella' in the best sense of the word. He was great to work with and a good friend. I'm really going to miss him."

RELATED VIDEO: Remembering Goodfellas Actor Ray Liotta

Liotta was as busy as ever in the years leading up to his death, recently appearing in the Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark and the Amazon Prime series Hanna. Plus he was currently filming the movie Dangerous Waters.

Liotta spoke to PEOPLE in November about how his personality differed from the tough-guy roles he played in movies like Goodfellas. "I have never been in a fight at all, except for during sports, and that's just pushing and goofy kid stuff," he said at the time.

He added of his career, "It's weird how this business works, because I've definitely had a career that's up and down. For some reason, I've been busier this year than I have in all the years that I've been doing this. And I still feel I'm not there yet. I just think there's a lot more."