Fortunately, Alfred managed to persuade him to continue his education, so he enrolled at the University of Miami, at the time an easy college to enter – “All you basically needed was a pulse to get in” says Ray.
That he fought so hard against that typecasting, reaching his most prolific (and varied) period in his mid-forties, is testament to the man’s genuine class.Realising from the scripts he now received that he was everyone’s favourite basket-case, Liotta instantly attempted to change his image.He was wonderfully sympathetic when caring for retarded brother Tom Hulce in Nicky And Gino, then brilliantly hurt and bewildered as Shoeless Joe Jackson, the innocent caught up in the Chicago Black Sox scandal, banned from the game and given a post-death chance to play on by Kevin Costner in Field Of Dreams. Noticing Martin Scorsese at the Venice Film Festival, he made a beeline for him, hoping to score a part in the upcoming Good Fellas.Bauer’s wife of the time, Melanie Griffith, advised Ray to look up her old friend Heidi von Beltz, a model and stunt-woman who’d been paralysed from the neck down in a car accident on the set of The Cannonball Run.Ray shied away from the notion but, finding the numbers of all Griffith’s friends scribbled on the back of a cupboard door, Heidi’s name jumped out, so he called her, saying he knew nobody in town and could he come over. He played Officer Ed Santini in the TV series Our Family Honour, but things were slow. Via Griffith, he got an audition for a part in her next picture, Something Wild, and got in as her maniacally jealous jailbird ex-hubbie, menacing poor Jeff Daniels.