Tribeca: Martin Scorsese Said He "Denigrated a Certain Ethnic Group" at 'Goodfellas' Reunion

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Ray Liotta

"Joe Pesci couldn't be here, but he sent this email: 'F—, f—, f—, f—ity f—, f—'" read Robert De Niro, introducing the film at the closing night of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

Of the many delicious scenes in Goodfellas, the one that lingers longest is that of Paulie Cicero slicing garlic with a razor blade.

"The character in real life actually did that! And people have asked me if those were stunt hands — no, they're mine," Paul Sorvino recalled to The Hollywood Reporter of the move, which he recently re-created on Rachael Ray. "But do not mix garlic and onions together — if I hear you did, I'm going to hunt you down."

 

 

Ray Liotta also joked of the scene, "I like it a little thicker — not as thin as they do!" and Debi Mazar, who actually hadn't ever seen the movie on the big screen before, warned fans, "Don't slice your garlic with a razor blade — there's no reason to do that!"

The three shared hugs at New York City's Beacon Theatre on Saturday night, along with Robert De Niro and Lorraine Bracco, for the 25th anniversary of the Martin Scorsese gangster classic — a reunion that closed the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and included about a dozen members of the 1990 film's other cast and crew in the audience.

"Joe Pesci couldn't be here, but he sent this email: 'F—, f—, f—, f—ity f—, f—'" read De Niro, introducing the film with fest co-founder Jane Rosenthal. "I'll translate: 'Dear Bob, sorry I can't be there. Love to all. Best, Joe.'"

Scorsese and producer Irwin Winkler sent video messages to the audience, as they're currently filming Silence in Taiwan. "I remember the previews were one of the worst experiences of my life — we had three of them and they were all in California. … It seemed that the audience had to be prepared for what it was, but there was a lot of controversy," Scorsese said of debuting the crime drama, in which his parents also appear. He then addressed screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi: "Remember that nice Italian restaurant in Tribeca that we used to go to? And then when the film came out, the owner of the restaurant said we're not allowed in anymore because we apparently denigrated a certain ethnic group for the picture?"

 

 

Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour screening — a new print, remastered from a 4K scan of the original camera negative, supervised by Scorsese — the audience cheered for each major character's first appearance, now-iconic scenes like Karen Hill's doorbell-yelling session, and memorable lines like Henry Hill's opening narration: "For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."

Afterward, Liotta, Bracco, De Niro, Sorvino and Pileggi repeated well-known facts about the beloved film: Scorsese's perfectionist tendencies ("Right there on opening night, he was looking for edits!" said Pileggi of the director), improvised moments onscreen like Pesci's intimidating "Am I funny?" questioning and De Niro's off-the-cuff "hoof" correction, and Liotta's meeting with the real Hill at a bowling alley in Los Angeles after the film was released. "The first thing he said was, 'Thanks for not making me look like a scumbag,' and I said, 'Did you see the movie?!'" he told moderator Jon Stewart. "That's just so not cool! You did drugs and you cheated on your wife!"

He later added with a smile, "This is just incredible — 25 years later, people still respond to it."

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