Former mobster Henry Hill — who had a drug-fueled stint with the Lucchese crime family and an eventual turn as an FBI informant — died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 69. His life became the basis for investigative crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi’s 1986 book Wiseguy, made famous by Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film Goodfellas.
Ray Liotta starred in the film as Hill, which chronicled the reformed mobster’s roots as an errand boy for Lucchese capo Paul Vario in the 1950s, his rise through narcotics trafficking, and retirement into the witness protection program. As TMZ reported, the real Hill prided himself on cleaning up his act later in life, but what did he think about his cinematic counterpart? Find out past the break, where we examined what other people thought about their on-screen doppelgangers and the films based on their lives.
Henry Hill/Ray Liotta, Goodfellas
Former mobster Henry Hill was an integral part of the success of Scorsese’s crime-drama Goodfellas. He was consulted frequently by De Niro — who played mafia associate Jimmy “The Gent” Conway in the film (based on real-life gangster Jimmy Burke) — Liotta, and the director about various figures in the Lucchese family and more. Hill told reporters that the film’s characters were “played way down,” because “they couldn’t show the true violence we used. These guys were murderers on a daily basis.” How does he rate Liotta’s performance? “If I had done the movie myself, had I known anything about filmmaking, who knows if I would’ve done a better job,” he said after seeing the film for the first time. Spoken like a real wiseguy.