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Ray Liotta recalls his mom dying 'in my arms' while filming 'Goodfellas'

Liotta is bringing back his mobster persona in the new film "The Many Saints of Newark," a prequel to "The Sopranos."
/ Source: TODAY

Ray Liotta has had storied acting career since getting his start on a soap opera and starring in the classics "Something Wild," "Field of Dreams" and "Goodfellas."

The last of the three is the movie the made him famous, but filming it wasn't the easiest experience, the 66-year-old revealed in a recent interview with Sunday TODAY's Willie Geist.

Asked if he knew he was on to something special while making the iconic mob flick, Liotta, who was adopted as an infant and raised in Union, New Jersey, said no.

"My mom was sick with cancer during the filming of 'Goodfellas,' and she passed away in the middle of it. ... It put things in perspective in a really deep way," he told Willie, adding that he still had to carry on with his role.

"I was doing a scene Friday. They told me," he said. "My knees buckled, but you realize you've got to go back and finish the scene. And I did."

The actor managed to make it back to his mother in time to say goodbye.

"I went back that night, and luckily I was there when she passed, literally in my arms. I've never really talked about that," he added.

In the film, where he played real-life gangster Henry Hill, Liotta became known for his tough-guy persona. But in reality, he's never even been in a fight.

"Except in seventh grade," Liotta laughed to Willie. "It was me and this kid, and for some reason he wanted to challenge me that the food in his grammar school was better than the food in my grammar school."

"We sort of just beat each other, like a couple girls," he quipped.

In his newest movie, "The Many Saints of Newark," a prequel to the beloved series "The Sopranos," about a mob family in New Jersey, Liotta plays Hollywood Dick, a new character.

"He's just a loudmouth that you want to punch," Liotta said.

Despite the excitement building around the film, Liotta is more focused on his home life.

"I don't feed into it," he said. "I don't talk about it. I just like staying home with my fiancée, watching TV and chilling. I don't look at reviews."