As ‘Goodfellas’ Turns Twenty, Alternative Casting Choices Revealed

Twenty years after its release, Goodfellas is still a high-water mark for Martin Scorsese, mob pictures, and, dare I say, American cinema itself. To commemorate the anniversary, GQ has assembled an oral history of the film’s making that reveals, among other juicy morsels, some dubious casting choices that were considered early on in pre-production. A certain pop star was at least briefly in the running, as was a certain well-known (and at that time still sane-seeming) leading man.

According to Producer Irwin Winkler, “Tom Cruise was discussed” before Ray Liotta eventually won the part of Henry Hill. Considering Cruise’s star power at that time, and Liotta’s relative obscurity, this isn’t totally shocking, although the idea is nevertheless distasteful in the extreme. Even more so, however, is the thought of Lorraine Bracco’s role as Karen Hill having gone to Madge. “Madonna seemed to be in the mix,” said producer Barbara De Fina. “I remember that we went to see her in the play Speed-the-Plow. Marty said hello to her afterward. There was definitely somebody somewhere wanting to cast her. Can you imagine? Tom Cruise and Madonna?”

No Babs. I really, really can’t.

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