20 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About 'Goodfellas'

Without Goodfellas, we wouldn’t have The Sopranos. Perhaps we wouldn’t have Breaking Bad either, and certainly we wouldn’t have Analyze This. And yet, for such a milestone of a movie, there’s a lot we don’t know about it -- and by “we,” we mean Cracked writers, of course. So we started digging around, and found all these facts about its production and shooting (“shooting” as in filming the movie, not firing real guns -- we hope). And now we’re sharing this knowledge with you, because we are … hum … Nice pals? Kind comrades? Congenial individuals? Call us whatever, and enjoy these.


The You think I'm funny? scene actually happened to Joe Pesci. The scene was based on a similarly uncomfortable situation Pesci had with a real mobster, back when he was a waiter. All the reactions are genuine, as the extras had no idea what was going

Source: GQ


Al Pacino turned down the movie. Pacino was offered the part of Jimmy Conway, but didn't want to be typecast as a gangster.  Behind the Scenes And yet, that same year he played a cartoonish gangster in Dick Tracy.

Source: Screen Rant


A lot of the extras were actual gangsters. It was hard to put the real-life wiseguys on the payroll, though- they didn't exactly have Social Security numbers, SO they just made them up on the spot when asked.

Source: GQ


Marlon Brando discouraged Scorsese from filming Goodfellas. Scorsese was hesitant about making another crime film after Mean Streets, and Brando told him that he really shouldn't. GoodFellas Behind the Scenes Luckily, fellow director Michael Powell encouraged him to make the movie.

Source: Showbiz Cheat Sheet


The movie was expected to bomb. The test screening was disastrous-70 people walked out, grossed out by all the violence and blood. As a result, Warner Bros. scaled down the opening from 2,000 theaters to just 1,000.

Source: GQ


John Malkovich was considered to play Jimmy Conway. Malkovich turned down the role, as he was going through a rough patch in his life, and didn't feel like working. It's hard to explain why you end up in Eragon and not Goodfellas, he has said.

Source: GQ


Martin Scorsese's mom did the cooking. Catherine Scorsese didn't just play Tommy DeVito's mother- she also prepared the dinner herself. Whenever characters are having Italian food, it's her Italian food.

Source: GQ


The entrance into the Copacabana was quite the feat. The iconic long shot required building and then taking the hallway apart on the go -- and yet, it only took a handful of takes. One of those was ruined because comedian Henny Youngman (playing himself) forgot his own joke.

Source: GQ


The producer didn't want Ray Liotta. Scorsese was dead set on Liotta, but producer Irwin Winkler kept pushing him towards hiring someone with more star power. Liotta was able to pitch himself to Winkler during a chance meeting in a restaurant, winning him over.

Source: GQ


Prosecutor Edward McDonald plays himself. The prosecutor who puts Henry Hill in the Witness Protection Program isn't played by an actor- that's the exact same man who put the real Henry Hill in the Witness Protection Program, years earlier.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Scorsese himself would tie Ray Liotta's tie every day. He was insistent that it had to be done in a very specific way.

Source: GQ


Lorraine Bracco demanded real jewels. GoodFellas Behind the Scenes Props wouldn't do- she needed to really feel Karen Hill's lavish lifestyle, and Scorsese backed her. Production designer Kristi Zea had to run and rent as many pieces of expensive gold jewelry as she could find.

Source: GQ


A lot of the dialogue was improvised. Scorsese gives actors a lot of freedom to ad-lib, so the dialogue sounds as natural as possible. In the scene where Tommy DeVito kills Spider, the only line actually in the script is Spider's f-you to Tommy.

Source: GQ


The angry pistol whipping got too real. Ray Liotta was in real anger at the time, because of personal issues -- and during one take, he hit the other actor for real. “Ooh, this is going to be good,” Scorsese said, squirming.

Source: GQ


Jimmy Conway spends real money. The stack of bills Robert De Niro carries around is made of real, legal-tender greenbacks, belonging to prop master Robert Griffon. Special care was taken to keep track of every bill after each take.

Source: GQ


The final shot is a tribute to an old -timey movie. Tommy DeVito shooting at the camera is a shout-out to 1903's The Great Train Robbery- an acknowledgement that Goodfellas comes from a long tradition of outlaw movies.

Source: Screen Rant


Paul Sorvino almost backed out. Sorvino called his agent to get him out of the movie, as he was struggling to get in character as Paulie Cicero. He finally found Paulie in the mirror, though:' I saw this guy, and it scared the hell out of

Source: Complex


Scorsese knew three years in advance which songs he'd use. GoodFellas Behind the Scenes I was told that Goodfellas is the most expensive movie soundtrack in history, actress Illeana Douglas has said. Marty used like thirty seconds of a Rolling Stones song; he had to have it.

Source: GQ


The book's author wouldn't take Scorsese's calls at first. Nicholas Pileggi thought it was a joke. Scorsese had to reach him through Pileggi's wife, director Nora Ephron.  Are you crazy? Ephron said to him. Marty Scorsese's trying to reach you, and you won't call him back!

Source: Complex


Ray Liotta met Henry Hill after the movie came out. Thank you for not making me look like a scumbag, Hill said to an incredulous Liotta. Liotta replied: Did you see GoodFellas the movie?

Source: Complex