Ray Liotta studied acting at the University of Miami, where he became friends with Steven Bauer (Scarface (1983), Thief of Hearts (1984)). He spent his first years acting in TV: Another World (1964), a TV movie and several short-lived series. He broke into movies with the black comedy Something Wild (1986), which garnered him rave reviews. Originally unable to get a reading, he was recommended for the part by Melanie Griffith (then married to Bauer). After the success of "Something Wild" he received more offers in the "psycho" vein, but refused them to avoid being typecast. Instead, he made "little movies" like Dominick and Eugene (1988) (which earned him standing as an actor's actor) and Field of Dreams (1989) (whose success still surprises him). When he heard that Martin Scorsese was casting Goodfellas (1990), he lobbied hard for the part of Henry Hill. The film's huge success brought him wide popularity and enabled him to get star billing in future films (Article 99 (1992), Unlawful Entry (1992), Unforgettable (1996)).
- Was Tim Burton's first choice to play Harvey Dent in Batman (1989), but turned it down to do Goodfellas (1990) instead.
- Has a nephew who is also named Ray Liotta who plays on a farm team for the Kansas City Royals.
- Claims that he only did Operation Dumbo Drop (1995) for the money.
- Was the original choice for the role of Dignam in The Departed (2006), however had to reluctantly decline due to other commitments.
- Lives in Pacific Palisades, California.