Ray Liotta's Incredibly Eerie Job Before His Hollywood Success

Actor Ray Liotta, who died in May 2022, made his name with tough-guy roles in movies like the Martin Scorsese mob classic "Goodfellas." Liotta, whose publicist confirmed his death with the trade publication Variety on May 26 with the trade publication Variety, was also known for roles like the 2021 HBO "Sopranos" prequel "The Many Saints of Newark," among many, many others (via IMDb). Though Liotta's standout performances tended to cater to Liotta's intensity as an actor, Liotta said he didn't have much in common, personality-wise, with the characters and people he portrayed. "I have never been in a fight at all, except for during sports, and that's just pushing and goofy kid stuff," he said jokingly to People magazine in a 2021 interview.

Even if the Emmy Award-winning actor's life differed wildly from that of the characters he famously played, that's not to say he didn't shy away from anything less-than-typical. For example, look no further than the job Liotta worked during his days as a college student at the University of Miami. It was a job that would force Liotta to confront the dark side of life and his own mortality, as Liotta revealed on "The Bonnie Hunt Show" in 2010 (via YouTube). It became the first time the star would explore both topics at various points throughout his decades-long career.

Ray Liotta's college job came with a lot of baggage

One early life experience that Ray Liotta may have drawn on for his roles in dramatic films throughout the years was his time spent working at a Florida cemetery during his college days. In 2010, the late actor recalled his experiences as a graveyard employee in an interview with TV host Bonnie Hunt (via YouTube), during which he explained that his cemetery duties included grounds maintenance and preparing spaces for funeral ceremonies, which possibly gave the star a close-encounter experience with grief. 

"It was a time in my life I was thinking about death," the actor told Hunt. "Who wasn't scared to die?" Liotta ultimately worked his cemetery gig until a few days short of his move to New York City to pursue acting full time. But even if his cemetery gig forced Liotta to confront the sadder side of life, it wasn't his only experience dealing with life's complexities.

Ray Liotta grappled with being an adoptee

Even though Ray Liotta cast himself in a different light than the majority of characters he portrayed onscreen, his earlier years weren't entirely devoid of their own set of complications. Born in New Jersey in 1954 and adopted and adopted only a few months later, Liotta told People in 2021 that he had a tough time coming to terms with being an adoptee. "At first, I didn't understand how a parent could give up a child," Liotta disclosed to the magazine. "So I had that kind of energy of just being like, that's f***** up. And then when I finally met my birth mom in my forties, by then, I wasn't as angry about it. It's just another journey."

Despite the trials and tribulations Liotta internally experienced when it came to the circumstances of his birth, it seemed Liotta had come to peace with it all by 2021, per People. "After years, you grow up, and you just see the pattern of things," Liotta said at the time. "I've definitely developed more patience. Now I'm grateful for my health. And being born. For my parents that adopted me. I mean, it could have gone a lot of different ways."