Tribeca Film Festival

'Good Fellas' actors spill secrets at 25th anniversary screening

April 25, 2015. Actor Ray Liotta arrives at a screening of the film "Good Fellas" during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

April 25, 2015. Actor Ray Liotta arrives at a screening of the film "Good Fellas" during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.  (Reuters)

The Tribeca Film Festival ended Saturday night with a bang — a special 25th anniversary screening of the Martin Scorsese gangster flick "Goodfellas."

On the red carpet, star Ray Liotta recalled something Scorsese told him before filming began that made him believe he was going to be part of something special.

"He said, 'I want to shoot this like a gangster,'" Liotta told The Associated Press. "'If I want to freeze frame, if I want to voice over, if I want to whatever ...'. And that's what he did. It gave him a lot liberty to just be him."

That mindset paid off. Many regard the Oscar-nominated mob tale as more than just a great film of the genre, but also one of the greatest movies of all time. Scorsese used a compelling narrative with strong visuals married by a powerful rock soundtrack to reinvent the gangster film.

"I don't know if he reinvented it as much as he just created his own version of it," Liotta said.

Paul Sorvino, who portrayed Paulie, the mob capo that takes Liotta's Henry under his wing, thinks Scorsese went beyond reinventing the genre.

"It's not even part of a genre; it's like tearing off that wall and taking a look inside to see what it really is," Sorvino said of the gritty depiction of life as a low-level mobster.

The 76-year old actor expressed gratitude to have a part in the film.

"It's part of the iconography of American film," Sorvino said. "It's one of the three or four greatest movies ever made, and if you get to do that in your career, you're pretty lucky."

Based on the nonfiction best-seller "Wiseguy" written by Nicholas Pileggi, the story traces the life of Henry Hill — a mobster-turned-informant — from his childhood and life of petty crime to rise and fall in the underworld. The film also stars Robert De Niro as James "Jimmy The Gent" Conway.

De Niro is one of the film festival's co-creators.

"The fact that he helped put it together right after 9/11 and bring Tribeca back as well as New York — that was just honorable in itself. And to sustain it for so long now, it represents a great thing in movies, that's great for movies, and a great thing for the city," Liotta said.

De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002 as a means of stimulating the lower Manhattan neighborhood after the Sep. 11 attacks.

But Lorraine Bracco, who played Henry's wife, Karen, thinks the festival did more than revitalize the city.

"It's for the world to see that we're still standing strong," Bracco said.

Scorsese couldn't make the screening because he was out of the country, but he recorded a message introducing the film to the audience at the Beacon Theatre. After the screening, outgoing "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart moderated a panel discussion with the cast.