Movie fans were saddened this week to learn of the death of actor Ray Liotta. At only 67 years of age, and a man who has had multiple roles on screen that can easily be described with the word “iconic,” it was a shock to learn of his loss. It was even harder to deal with for those that knew Liotta personally, including those who shared the screen with him in those famous roles, like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.
Costner posted to Instagram to say he was “devastated” to learn of Liotta’s passing. Liotta played Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams and Costner posted a short clip of the first scene the two actors have in the movie. He also revealed that a famous moment, where Costner nearly gets beaned by a ball hit by Liotta, wasn’t scripted.
I like how Kevin Costner calls his wild dive out of the way a “stunt.” It makes it sound much more professional than just a guy trying to avoid getting hit by a line drive. It does give you a new perspective on the scene however. They could have very easily ended the scene and tried again if Costner wasn’t supposed to go down, but Costner plays it off in character, and the moment ends up staying in the movie. The fact that this shot was genuine is one of those Field of Dreams behind-the-scenes moments that had been revealed before, but it’s probably still news to many people.
Field of Dreams was a fairly early movie in Ray Liotta’s career and so it was possibly the place where a lot of movie fans first saw the actor. From there he would go on to appear in a hundred more movies and TV shows. But his role in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, may be the only performance on par with Field of Dreams as far as its popularity with the general public.
The two films came out in consecutive years and if nothing else it shows Ray Liotta’s range as an actor to play such vastly different characters. One of them is a father in an emotional story, and the other is a monster. And yet, we love them both equally, likely due to the fact that Ray Liotta is just so good at both.
Kevin Costner says Liotta will “always be Shoeless Joe Jackson” to him and that’s probably the case for many fans. It’s just one of those movies that everybody loves, so much so that Field of Dreams is now getting the TV reboot treatment, which is why the loss of one of its stars is being felt so strongly by so many. Liotta is the second star of Field of Dreams to die in less than a year, actor Art Le Fleur passed away last fall. Dealing with death and loss is what Field of Dreams is really all about. Perhaps it will give the movie a different, and even more emotional, feel now that Shoeless Joe is truly gone.