Ray Liotta plays the second lead as mobster Ray Demeo in Ariel Vromen’s biopic “The Iceman,” about cold-blooded contract killer Richard Kuklinski (starring Michael Shannon – read his Q&A here).
At the junket for the film at the Waldorf Astoria, Liotta was asked about reports that he wanted to do a romantic comedy? “No, I said I wanted to do a movie where I could kiss the girl without having to choke her first,” Liotta said.
He’s dismembering a few bodies but he’s not kiss any woment in “The Iceman.” And although he’s played a string of crooked cop roles, this is his first mobster role since he played Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” in 1990.
Liotta said he does get to show a softer side of himself in a film coming out soon. “I just did a movie with the Muppets,” Liotta said. “I didn’t beat the shit out of Miss Piggy.”
But did he kiss her? “There you go,” he told me, whipping out his iPhone to show me a picture of him and Miss Piggy in a big smooch. The notoriously flirty Miss Piggy also looked like she might be giving him tongue.
So is she a good kisser? “She’s great,” Liotta enthused.
“The Muppets … Again!” is a jewel-heist caper, headed by a Kermit-look-alike, co-starring Chrisophe Waltz, Tina Fey and Danny Trejo.
“Me and Danny are in the Russian gulag. We’re prisoners in a prison that Kermit gets put in,” Liotta explained. “There’s a guy, Constantine, who’s a Russian Kermit, who’s got a beauty mark on his – not a face – whatever frogs have – Constantine gets out and they put Kermit in because they think Kermit’s him and we sing and dance. We’re just singing and dancing the whole time. It was great. It was so much fun.”
Liotta said co-star Danny Trejo may have had a hard time distinguishing between reality and fantasy.
“Danny Trejo just could not stop talking to the Muppets. In fact it was almost like, Holy shit, he really believes they’re real!” After director James Bobin would yell cut, Trejo would keep talking to Kermit, Liotta said. “He’d go up and say, ‘So Kermit, what’d you do last night’ or whatever. He couldn’t stop. The whole time, like for months.’’
Maybe this is what happens when you do too many Robert Rodriguez movies, I suggested. “I just did ‘Sin City,’ and I didn’t do that,” Liotta said.
For his next role, he plays a preacher in “The Identical,” directed by Dustin Marcellino, a role he says he’s really proud of. “It’s great. It’s not great yet. It’s on its way,” Liotta said “It’s a first-time director, so he’s just kind of finding his legs and it’s a complicated story, but I saw a rough cut of it the other day and it’s really something.”
In the film, he ages from his 20’s until his 70’s. And you’re not strangling anyone? I asked.
“I’ve done a bunch of other things, but for some reason, bad guys stand out in peoples’ minds,” Liotta said dryly.
Back to “The Iceman,” which premiered at Venice in August. There’s a photograph of the entire cast taken on the red carpet, and it looks like Liotta has his hand on Winona Ryder’s derriere (read Winona’s Q&A here).
“I wasn’t holding her ass. No, no, no. I would never do that,” Liotta insisted. “We were taking the pictures together. She was right next to me. She came in ’cause they said, ‘Can you get closer so we can get you?’ So I went to put my arm around her, so I put my hand out, but from the photographers from behind,” it looked like he had his hand in that spot, when he insists she stepped into his hand.
“I got more press out of that than almost anything,” Liotta sighed.
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mickey Rourke and Jessica Alba. Can he briefly describe his role? “The guy who chokes the girl before he kisses her, pretty much.”