It would be nice to do a movie where I didn't have to choke the girl to get her.
(when asked why he did the voice of Tommy Vercetti for "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City") "For the money."
"Something Wild" was my first movie. I was in an acting class and on a soap opera for three-and-a-half years in New York - I moved to L.A. at 25 and nothing was really going on for like a five-year period. I was still in acting class, I was in class all through "Goodfellas" actually, and I talked to some of the guys and they said, "Are you up for this movie, Something Wild?" and I said, "No." But I decided I really wanted to be up for it even though [Jonathan] Demme had already narrowed it down to three people. I'd been to college with Melanie Griffith's then-husband Steven Bauer and I called her up and said, "y'know, can you get me in and I felt weird about it, but here I am, thirty years old and I haven't done anything yet and I'd read the script and felt like I could do that as well as anyone out there so why not me?" She got me in, she insisted that Jonathan see me, and it just worked out with me.
"Nothing. It's just make-believe. I don't think it's good to personalize it. If you do, it's limiting. The actors that do personalize it are the ones that always seem the same in every movie they do. I don't really look at it in any kind of deep psychological way that I learn something about myself. Aside from taking up the acting challenges, I'm really glad I took on the challenge of playing Sinatra, as scary as it was. I learned somewhat about myself - that I could do it and I knew what was bothering me - the fears that I had." - On what he learns about himself through the characters he plays.
I wasn't crazy about the way things were going. I wanted to be a little more proactive with my career instead of waiting for something to come to me, so I formed a production company with my wife [Michelle Grace] and a partner, Diane Nabatoff, and changed agents - I really just wanted to clean house and start fresh. The first script I got was "Narc" and I really responded to it; it reminded me of a 70s type movie, I really liked the characters, I didn't anticipate the ending. I wanted to go that way and really get proactive with my career - take some control in it and redirect it in a direction that I liked.
"I only did it to get my foot in the door and because you never know what can happen." - On his first film, "The Lonely Lady".
Bad guys stand out in people's minds. If you think about De Niro or Pacino, you're not going to stay "Stanley & Iris", you are not going to say "Author! Author!". Even with Brando, you are going to say "The Godfather" or Street Car. It is the edgier characters that are remembered. That's my rationalization.
What I really am is a homebody. I was a homebody even before I had a family. My days are filled with home stuff.
It's the oily skin. It gives you zits when you are a teenager, but then it doesn't wrinkle as you get older. [on why he looks a lot younger]
People have all these preconceptions about me. Whereas if you look at the roles, Henry Hill was the nicest guy in "Goodfellas"! I was a nice guy too in the comedy _Heartbreakers_. And I was a really sweet father to Johnny Depp in "Blow"!
Okay there was an edginess to the guy, but he never killed anyone. All he did was beat up the guy who was harming girlfriend. And a major point in the film was how he couldn't be made because he was part Irish and part Italian. But then they also say I'm Italian and I'm mostly Scottish with a bit of Italian. So, it doesn't track sometimes. - on preconceptions about him based on his role in "Goodfellas".
I've only been in one fight in my whole life... in 7th grade, yet everyone thinks I'm a maniac.
Research is good to a degree, to learn how to hold a gun. You want to look like you know what you're doing and get a basic sense. But your imagination is all you need. They say that the imagination is more powerful than knowledge.
[on his most challenging role] Probably "The Rat Pack", taking on Sinatra. That was uh, very intimidating. I didn't know that much about him. I'm not an imitator. You know, to do him without going into caricature was harder than maybe what [the others had to do]. Sammy has a certain pattern, and Dean had a certain pattern, Frank was just so much more raw. I didn't think I look like him; I had to sing the songs. I mean, I'm really glad I did it, but at first, it was just terrifying for months. All I did was listen, watch, or read about Sinatra.
(groaning) Well, "Turbulence" is a whole 'nother story. Umm... that one got by me. I mean, I felt good with what I did. It is what it was, and whatever... You know, Turbulence, you know what? The movies I was doing weren't becoming huge box office things, and that really gives you leverage in this business, and that seemed to have a commercial potential, [which] was the wrong reason to go into it. But that's what led me, just out of frustration, and also, sometimes after a while, you just have to pick the best of the lot. This is the profession I chose, and you really learn to save your money because you never know how it's going to go, but you still want to get out there and work.
[on choosing his roles] I knew, after "Something Wild", in it I was a splashy bad guy, and I'd read enough, I knew there was typecasting out there. I held out a long time to get "Dominick and Eugene", and then "Field of Dreams" and "Goodfellas" just kind of fell into my lap. Then, I started getting a little too picky and choosy and I figure well, after Goodfellas, next thing you know, they think I'm Italian, even though Henry was an Irish guy, and I myself am adopted, so I'm not Italian. They're really quick to put you in a hole, so I figured playing a heart surgeon in a black comedy ("Article 99") would be a good thing to do. It was, but Orion went bankrupt, so you know, the way you choose to do it is different each time.
There's not a day that goes by that I don't hear somebody mention "Goodfellas", unless I stay home all night. It's defined who I am, in a sense.
 Actors a bunch of hot air when you really look at what's life about and the real trials and tribulations, day in and day out.
[on his off-screen persona] If I'm playing a nice guy, I'm great on the set. If I'm not, I'm a dick. I'm sure I'm going to be unbearably wonderful while I'm playing the preacher.
You know how they have stand-ins when they're doing the lighting? I always do my own standing-in. That way I stay in the zone and nobody asks me anything, except to move left or right.
I subscribe to the theory that luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
[on how he got started in acting] I went to the University of Miami because, basically, at that time, if you had a pulse, you could get in. I was only there because my dad said: 'Go to college, take whatever you want, just go out and experience things.' This was 1973. There was an acting teacher there called Buckets. He was a guy's guy, man. Drinking, edgy, dark glasses all the time - and he was a great teacher. He took me under his wing because I was so raw. I didn't give a shit. I really didn't.
There's nothing worse than working with somebody who doesn't know what they're doing, especially if you've had experience. It gets really frustrating - then I can be a dick on set.
[on "Goodfellas"] The whole thing was tempered by my mom, who was sick and had cancer and died in the middle of it. I was going home every weekend to New Jersey. Then one day I got a specific "You need to get home." Marty told me, and my knees buckled. I finished the scene, went home, buried her and was back to work three, four days later. And the first scene after the funeral was after I stand Karen up and she says, "Who do you think you are, Frankie Valli?" And I'm kind of laughing. That's one of the great things about acting. Between action and cut, you can really lose yourself and do what needs to be done.
[on meeting the real Henry Hill for the first time after playing him in "Goodfellas"] The first thing he said was: 'Thanks for not making me look like a scumbag.' And I said: 'Did you see the movie?'