Robert De Niro Addresses 'Goodfellas' Co-Star Ray Liotta's Sudden Death

Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta made very few movies together, but one of them was the unforgettable Martin Scorsese 1990 classic Goodfellas. During a stop on the Today Show Monday, De Niro said he was "very sad" about Liotta's sudden death last month. Liotta died on May 26 in the Dominican Republic, where he was making a movie. The actor was 67.

Although De Niro did not personally know Liotta well after they made Goodfellas together, he told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb that he really enjoyed watching Liotta's movies. "I liked seeing him. He was a wonderful actor," De Niro, 78, said. "And I'm very sad. He was too young, as far as I'm concerned."

De Niro made a similar comment after Liotta's death last month. "I was very saddened to learn of Ray's passing," he said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. "He is way too young to have left us. May he Rest in Peace." Liotta and De Niro also starred in Cop Land (1997) with Sylvester Stallone and Harvey Keitel.

Goodfellas was the only time Scorsese directed Liotta. The filmmaker penned an essay for The Guardian, showing Liotta praise for his performances and sharing his regret that timing never allowed for them to work together again. Liotta's performance in Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story as Adam Driver's divorce lawyer reminded Scorsese of his powerful skills.

"We had many plans to work together again but the timing was always off, or the project wasn't quite right. I regret that now," Scorsese wrote. "When I watched Ray as the divorce lawyer in Marriage Story – he's genuinely scary in the role, which is precisely why he's so funny – I remember feeling that I wanted to work with him again at this point in his life, to explore the gravity in his presence, so different from the young, sprightly actor he was when I met him."

Liotta left behind an incredible body of work that includes some projects still unreleased. His first posthumously released project will be the Apple TV+ limited series Black Bird, written by Dennis Lehane. The story is based on James Keene's memoir about a criminal (Taron Egerton) who agrees to be a government informant in prison to get more incriminating evidence about serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser). Liotta plays Keene's father, James "Big Jim" Keene.

"I had no other actor in mind and was floored – humbled, honored, fist-pump elated – when he leapt at playing the part less than 24 hours after we sent him the scripts," Lehane wrote in a tribute to Liotta for The Hollywood Reporter. "And the performance he gave? It was a master class. He wholly embodied a man who realizes that his lifetime of cutting corners and flitting along the edges of corruption have hung an albatross of very bleak options around the neck of his own son."