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SUNDANCE Q&A: Ray Liotta on Working With Al Pacino and Fighting for Roles

The actor is starring in two films at this year's festival: "The Son of No One" and "The Details."

Ray Liotta
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

It's been nearly a decade since Ray Liotta last attended Sundance: Back in 2002, he made the rounds when Narc was screened at the festival. He's at Sundance this year for a second time with roles in two films: The Son of No One and The Details, which are being screened as part of the festival's Premieres program.

Liotta, who describes his career as that of a “journeyman,” is one of just a handful of actors with roles in more than one film being shown at this year's festival. Both films feature strong casts, and Liotta singles out Son of No One co-star Al Pacino as an actor with whom he's always wanted to share the screen. The police thriller premieres at 6:15 p.m. Friday at the Eccles Theatre. The Details, a dark love story, premieres at 6:15 p.m. Monday at the Eccles. Liotta recently discussed the two films, the festival and its frigid weather and his three-decade career with The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter: How does it feel to have roles in two Sundance films this year?

Ray Liotta: It's great. I have definitely had an up-and-down career, and as time goes on, I'm really more a journeyman than anything. So I've bitten and scratched to get myself in front of directors, if I'm right for a part. This was just the way the dice fell for me this time.

THR: Have you gotten a chance to see either of the films in advance of the festival?

Liotta: I just saw Son of No One last night, and it's really, really good, and I can understand why the festival chose it. People used to ask me, “Who would you like to work with? And I've been really fortunate with the people I've worked with, but one of them was Al Pacino. I got to work with Al in this one. It's really a good cop movie.

THR: They are two very different films. Tell me about The Details, which has generated a good deal of interest ahead of the festival.

Liotta: Yeah, they're very different. The Details is with Tobey Maguire, who [plays] a doctor whose life just unravels in a lot of different areas. I haven't seen it, and I'm looking forward to it. Again, it's a really, really solid cast.

THR: When you knew you had the opportunity to go back to Sundance this year, did it bring back fond memories?

Liotta: Yeah. When you do independent movies, it's always hit or miss. So [it's great] to have a venue and a festival where some of these movies that turn out to be really special, they get a platform for people to see them. And what we've seen in the past is that a lot of these movies that are in Sundance, they end up getting bought, and at the end of the year, a lot of them are awards-worthy. Plus to have it in an area like that -- look, if it was in north New Jersey, it's not as sexy -- but the fact that it's Sundance in this beautiful, beautiful place in January, that just adds to it. I was born in north New Jersey, so I'm not really busting it.

THR: So it sounds like you're not fazed by the cold weather -- unlike some people in Hollywood.

Liotta: No. When I was there last time, it was cold, but it doesn't really matter. Again, it's giving your movie a platform. People work so hard to get their movies out there, and there's so much competition, but again, it's a great way for people to realize that these movies exist.

THR: From your recollections, what do you enjoy most about the festival?

Liotta: Just the intimacy, the camaraderie between everybody. Because Sundance itself is an intimate kind of environment -- there's that one main street in town, just buzzing with actors, walking up and down and doing different interviews -- there's camaraderie. We're extremely competitive -- actors -- and just to be happy for other people getting their movies recognized is a good thing. Some people just stay with studio things, but there's a whole group of people who like this independent thing, so there's camaraderie with it. It's happy -- it's just a really nice environment.
THR: Is that very different from other festivals you've been to in the past?

Liotta: The only other ones I was at were the Deauville American Film Festival and I was at the Venice Film Festival, and that's really shiny and big. Usually those are [for)] studio movies -- at least the times I was there. I had a movie last year in the Tribeca Film Festival. Again, you're getting movies that are well known. I did this movie called Snowmen -- it's this beautiful kids story. And there, it's so spread out. There's not one area, so you don't really feel like there's a festival going on. There are so many different locations -- you go across town or downtown for the different locations for your movies to play at. With Sundance, it's cozier.

THR: For the first-timers out there, do you have any Sundance advice?

Liotta: Make reservations now at some of the restaurants. There are so many people, and there's just a limited amount of space. So get your reservations in for some of the restaurants that people recommend. I don't remember any of them, but I got a call this morning from my manager, saying, “Where do you want to eat?” I forgot about that.