Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime movie directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s an adaption of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. The movie narrates the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill and his friends and family over a period from 1955 to 1980. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts about Goodfellas.
1. Martin Scorsese initially titled the movie Wise Guy and postponed making it; later, he and Nicholas Pileggi changed the title to Goodfellas.
2. To prepare for their roles in the movie, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta often spoke with Nicholas Pileggi, who shared research material left over from writing the book.
3. According to Joe Pesci, improvisation and ad-libbing came out of rehearsals wherein Martin Scorsese gave the actors freedom to do whatever they wanted. The director then made transcripts of these sessions, took the lines he liked best and put them into a revised script, which the cast worked from during principal photography.
4. With a budget of $25 million, Goodfellas grossed $46.8 million.
5. The movie received positive reviews from critics and was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, with Pesci winning Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
6. Goodfellas won 5 awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, including Best Film and Best Director.
7. In 2000, Goodfellas was deemed, “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant,” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.
8. According to Nicholas Pileggi, some mobsters were hired as extras to lend authenticity to scenes. The mobsters gave fake Social Security numbers to Warner Brothers, and it’s unknown how they received their paychecks.
9. According to Ray Liotta, Martin Scorsese was so involved in every detail of the cast’s wardrobe, that he tied Liotta’s tie himself to make sure that it was accurate for the movie’s setting.
10. According to Henry Hill, whose life was the basis for the book and movie, Joe Pesci’s portrayal of Tommy DeSimone was 90% to 99% accurate, with one notable exception, the real Tommy DeSimone was a massively built, trapping man.
11. When Paulie confronts Henry after Hill’s released from prison, Paul Sorvino improvised the slap to Ray Liotta’s face, hence Liotta’s reaction.
12. In the documentary, The Real Goodfella, which aired in the U.K., Henry Hill claimed that Robert De Niro would phone him 7 to 8 times per day to discuss certain things about Jimmy’s character, such as how Jimmy would hold his cigarette.
13. Ray Liotta turned down the part of Harvey Dent in Batman in order to make Goodfellas.
14. Ray Liotta’s mother died of cancer during filming. Liotta said that he used his anger over losing his mother for certain scenes, the pistol-whipping scene in particular.
15. Robert De Niro wanted to use real money for the scene where Jimmy hands out money, because he didn’t like the way fake money felt in his hands. The Prop Master gave De Niro $5,000 of his own money. At the end of each take, no one was allowed to leave the set until all the money was returned and counted.
16. Martin Scorsese reportedly didn’t want Ray Liotta to have contact with the real Henry Hill before filming, because he had never directed Liotta before, and didn’t want Hill to influence Liotta.
17. After Joe Pesci’s mother saw the movie, she told her son that the movie was good, then asked him if he had to curse so much.
18. Every one of Robert De Niro’s outfits had a watch and pinkie ring to go with it.
19. For the scene where Sonny Bunz complains to Paulie, Martin Scorsese secretly told Tony Darrow to improvise more lines for his character without telling Paul Sorvino. Sorvino’s confused reaction was real.
20. Tony Darrow, who plays Sonny Bunz, the owner of the Bamboo Lounge, worked in the real-life Bamboo Lounge, where Henry Hill, and the people, on whom the movie’s character are based on, would hang out.
21. The painting the Joe Pesci’s character’s mother brings out was actually painted by “Wiseguy” author Nicholas Pileggi’s mother.
22. In 2014, the Lufthansa heist was solved, and most of the still-surviving members were arrested.
23. Jimmy Burke, on whom Jimmy Conway was based, would have been eligible for parole in 2004. However, he died of lung cancer in 1996, while still in prison.
24. Bobby Vinton was played by his son Robbie Vinton, who lip-synced to his father’s recording.
25. While driving to and from the set, Ray Liotta listened to cassettes of interviews that Nicholas Pileggi did with Henry Hill. Liotta noted that Hill casually discussed murders and other crimes while eating potato chips.
26. Joe Pesci was in his forties at the time of filming, though Tommy DeSimone, Pesci’s character’s inspiration, was in his twenties.
27. The M.P.A.A. ordered ten frames of blood removed from the movie before granting it an R rating.
28. The later life of Henry Hill, after he enters the Witness Protection Program, was also adapted, more humorously, into My Blue Heaven the same year. Appropriately, that movie was written by Nora Ephron, who is Nicholas Pileggi’s wife.
29. At the end of the movie, when Tommy fires a couple of rounds at the camera for no apparent reason, he’s duplicating the final scene in The Great Train Robbery.
30. The name “Tommy DeVito” is a nod to Tommy DeVito, the lead guitarist of The Four Seasons, with whom Joe Pesci was friends.