Pop Culture

‘Goodfella’ Henry Hill says jail saved his life

Henry Hill, the former mobster immortalized in “Goodfellas,” says his current jail term saved his life.

“It gave me a chance to sober up and get my stuff together again and go forward,” Hill told The Associated Press by phone from Lincoln County Jail in North Platte, Neb., where he’s serving the last four weeks of a six-month sentence for attempted possession of methamphetamines.

Hill, played by Ray Liotta in Martin Scorcese’s gangland classic, is appearing in a new documentary, “Bullets Over Hollywood,” airing Friday at 8 p.m. on Encore. Narrated by Paul Sorvino, the film examines the appeal of gangster movies and real-life mobsters’ curious relationships with the films.

Hill was living in Nebraska with his wife and working as a chef — he recently began producing his own “Sunday Gravy” marinara sauce — when police said glass tubes containing meth residue were found during a search of Hill’s luggage at the North Platte Regional Airport.

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He said alcohol was the root of his problems. Jail “actually saved my life because I was getting very sick,” said Hill, 62. “I was given a second chance.”

Well, maybe a third. Hill sought refuge in the witness protection program after testifying against his former bosses in New York. But he was kicked out of the program for repeated trouble with the law.

He showed up for a pre-sentence meeting with a probation officer with a blood-alcohol level of 0.343 percent — way above Nebraska’s legal driving limit of 0.08 percent.

When he watches “Goodfellas” now, Hill says, “I can’t believe that I lived that type of life.”

“But even as glamorous as my life was then, I wouldn’t trade it, even though there are things I go through — my addictions.”

Hill says that when he’s released, he just hopes to live a “normal life,” even though it’s been “totally impossible — something always comes up.”

“Maybe I’ll get it right this time.”

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