On April 25th, the Beacon Theatre was host to the closing night event of the 14th Annual Tribeca Film Festival. The iconic Martin Scorsese gangster film Goodfellas closed out the 2015 festival with a screening and a question and answer session with the cast. The enthusiastic audience celebrated the films’ 25th Anniversary and watched a remastered version of the film from a 4k scan of the original camera negative. Goodfellas, based on the nonfiction best-seller Wiseguy written by Nicholas Pileggi, follows the life of mob associate turned informant Henry Hill.
The red carpet was lined with press and photographers waiting to capture and talk with cast and crew members from the film. Tony Darrow, Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco, Ray Liotta, Kevin Corrigan, Debi Mazar, Chuck Low, Mike Starr, Bo Dietl, Robert DeNiro and writer Nicholas Pileggi were in attendance. Other celebrities that showed up to the event co-sponsored by Infor and Roberto Coin were David Blaine, Hank Azaria, Michael Rapaport, Queen Noor of Jordan, Kelly LeBrock, Terry Winter, Federico Castellucio, Helen Scorsese, Francesca Scorsese, Cathy Scorsese, producer Barbara De Fina and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal.
Martin Scorsese was unable to attend as he was on location in Taiwan filming a movie. Scorsese sent in a video message that was shown before the screening. Scorsese thanked everyone who worked on Goodfellas with him in the video and shared his favorite moment from the film. According to Scorsese, the scene where Ray Liotta, De Niro and Joe Pesci eat dinner at Pesci’s character’s mother’s house is the one he loves the most. Scorsese’s mother portrayed the mother of Pesci’s character in the film.
Scorsese also revealed how an Italian restaurant that he and writer Nicholas Pileggi enjoyed in Tribeca would no longer welcome them after the movie premiered. Scorsese and some that worked on the film such as producer Barbara De Fina said on the red carpet that when the film premiered, many people, mostly women walked out of theaters and the initial response was not positive. The owners of the Tribeca restaurant made it clear that they were not happy with how Italians were portrayed in the film.
On the red carpet, actor Tony Darrow who portrayed Sonny Bunz in Goodfellas, told us how he improvised may of the lines in the famous nightclub scene. He also stated that Scorsese does let his actors improvise in his films as long as it remains in the context of the scene. Actor Michael Rapaport declared his love of Scorsese’s work and said it was an honor to be there. Kevin Corrigan who portrayed Michael Hill in the film, reflected on how he would be a pest to Scorsese during filming as he asked him about the music in Scorsese’s film Mean Streets. He said he was so thankful when one day Scorsese surprised him with an audio tape with the music from Mean Streets. Award winning producer and writer Terrence Winter whose credits include The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and The Wolf of Wall Street recalled how he and his friends would drive around listening to an audio tape of Goodfellas in the car and how his love of Scorsese’s films such as Taxi Driver and Goodfellas inspired him getting into the movie and television business.
At the film’s conclusion, the crowd at the Beacon was treated to a question and answer session moderated by Daily Show host Jon Stewart. Nicholas Pileggi, Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco were the guest panelists. Some interesting revelations were discovered during the session. Paul Sorvino who portrayed crime boss Paul Cicero in the film, revealed that he did not want to go through with making the film. He said he called his manager and told him to get him out of Goodfellas. Sorvino said he is the total opposite of the character he was to portray in the film, and couldn’t see himself in the shoes of the mob boss. Then one day, while adjusting his tie, he saw his expression in the mirror and saw himself as Cicero and decided to stay on board.
Another interesting revelation was from Ray Liotta. He told Stewart that he “begged” to get the part and Scorsese instructed him not to talk with Henry Hill before they started shooting. Scorsese did not want him talking to Henry Hill as he did not want him to be influenced in any damaging way. Eventually Liotta said he did meet with Hill after the movie was out, at a bowling alley and Hill thanked him for not making him look like a s***bag in the film. Liotta said he couldn’t believe what he heard and said to Hill, “Did you see the movie?”
A final question asked to the panel by Stewart was about Joe Pesci. Pesci received an Oscar in 1991 for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Tommy Devito in Goodfellas. Pesci couldn’t make the event but he sent in a note that was filled with quite a few expletives. De Niro said he will translate it as: “Dear Bob, sorry I can’t be there. Love to all. Best, Joe.'” Stewart asked the panel if Pesci’s doing okay and Sorvino answered with, “He’s fine, he just ain’t here! Don’t ask me no more questions!”
A great time was had by all and everyone involved with the film continued the celebration at an after party at Tavern on The Green.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will be releasing a Goodfellas 2 disc Blu-ray 25th Anniversary DVD set featuring a new documentary and a 36 page photo book in May.