We’ve updated this post to add Kevin Costner’s comments, memories of Ray Liotta from the filming of Field of Dreams. (Scroll to bottom)
Sad news today, with the passing of Ray Liotta, at the age of 67. For many, his role as Henry Hill in the movie “Good Fellas” was his most memorable. To me, Liotta will always be Shoeless Joe, in Field of Dreams. The movie was released in 1989, the year following my father’s passing. Twenty years later, I was among the fortunate to attend the Kevin Costner hosted 20th Anniversary Screening in Los Angeles. Liotta, and the memory of Shoeless Joe lives on in celluloid, answering Liotta’s question in the film, “Can I come back again?”
As it turns out, one memorable moment in the beloved baseball film wasn’t planned. It just happened, and Costner’s reaction was genuine:
According to the film’s trivia page on IMDb, Liotta had no experience playing baseball and trained for the role with legendary USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux, developing the swing that led to that surprising on-camera moment.
Liotta did have one regret about his performance: Jackson hit lefty while Liotta himself was a righty. Although he tried to learn to hit left-handed, it just didn’t work out and he had to move back to his natural side.
“To this day I regret it because I’m a bug, making sure things are accurate,” Liotta said in the DVD extras, per the New York Post. “There used to be Monday Night Baseball and they were talking about the movie and how wonderful the movie was and some announcer who shall remain nameless said, ‘Yeah, but Shoeless Joe was batting the wrong way.’ Well, he didn’t come down from heaven either, so… ”
Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was filming a movie called “Dangerous Waters.”