Ray Liotta Turned Down ‘Batman’ (But Would Have Been Great)
Ray Liotta, the star of Goodfellas (and to a significantly lesser-extent Bee Movie) has sadly passed away at the age of 67. One thing you may not know about Liotta, other than the fact that cameoed in not one, but two Muppet movies –
– is that he very nearly played Batman. Rumors have swirled around Hollywood for years that Liotta was offered the role of Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Other stories pegged him as a candidate for The Joker part – but according to Liotta, he was actually up for the starring role as the Caped Crusader himself, but turned down the opportunity to audition because he thought the whole thing sounded a bit “silly” – which he later regretted, possibly after seeing Michael Keaton’s face plastered on roughly a billion Taco Bell collector cups, or maybe because he knew he could have nailed the part.
Obviously, Michael Keaton was/is a great Batman, but Liotta, too, would have followed Burton’s guiding casting principle; that Bruce Wayne should have a “crazy energy” that would make audiences “believe this dude might actually dress like a bat in public.” It was Liotta’s breakout role, as Ray Sinclair in Something Wild, that reportedly attracted Burton’s attention – and it’s not hard to see why.
But while Liotta is most famous for playing raging psychopaths, he was also good at being tenderly sympathetic, like in Field of Dreams.
And a movie like Goodfellas wouldn’t work unless we sympathize to some degree with the character of Henry Hill who is unquestionably a total scumbag.
Liotta could have handled the intimidating side of Batman, no question, but he also could have captured the human vulnerability of Bruce Wayne; which is a juggling act of emotional range not every ‘80s leading man had. At least the next time Liotta was offered a job donning the mantle of an iconic character, he didn’t say no.
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Top Image: Warner Bros.