Highlands’ Liotta Stars in ‘Shades of Blue’
By BERNICE FOX
For Highlands resident Ray Liotta, acting clearly is about the world of make-believe.
“To me, I don’t learn about myself, or certain parts, and all of a sudden, I find things out about myself that I didn’t know,” says Liotta. “I just strictly take it from the point of playing pretend.”
That’s why, when asked by Circling the News what he’s learned playing a cop in the NBC Sunday-night series, “Shades of Blue,” his response is about the technical aspect of his job, not about anything spiritual or self-reflective.
He says it was all about “how to learn lines really fast because it’s such a machine.”
Liotta explains the scripts for the show go through a long chain, including “NBC, then through Universal. And everybody has notes. By the time we finally get the script, we get it on the weekend before we start and what happened is we would do two episodes at a time. So, it was extremely challenging to bring depth and dimension.”
The third and final season of “Shades of Blue” has been airing this summer. (Series finale: Sunday, August 19.) Jennifer Lopez starred and executive produced. Liotta says he and Lopez have a good working relationship. That made it easy for him to bring suggestions about his character, Lt. Matt Wozniak.
“When I first started the show, I didn’t think that they were utilizing Wozniak as best they could. And I took a meeting with the producers. They thought I was coming in looking for more screen time. And I was coming in to say ‘look, you’ve got a bisexual cop who is very paternal with the people he works with, but yet also will cross the line into badness in a serious way. I think there’s a lot more story that could be told.’”
Liotta says to Lopez’s credit “and to the producers’ credit, they listened and Wozniak became much more of the story.”
With that, Liotta says he “just loved” doing “Shades of Blue” and loved playing “this particular character.”
He says he would do a TV series again, especially now, during what some say is another Golden Age of Television.
Liotta agrees, saying “there’s so much opportunity. There are so many places that need content. And a lot of the people who are the creators, the writers, they find they can tell much more of a story and different characters and fill them out than they can in a movie.”
But Liotta’s next project is a movie he’s looking forward to. He’ll play a former boxer in an independent film called “Cutman.” Liotta says he regularly does Pilates to stay in shape and is continuing his routine for the movie.
“I’m 63 now. So, I don’t want muscles on top of muscles. That’s not the kind of part it is. It’s unrealistic at that age unless you’re doing things that you shouldn’t be doing to enhance it. But it’s just right for what I have to do.”
That’s not Liotta’s only exercise. He says he also goes hiking in the Highlands.
Although his acting jobs take him all over, the Highlands is home base for Liotta. But filming “Shades of Blue” in New York the last few years has him fanaticizing about a move East.
“I love living out here. I’m from New Jersey. But I loved going to New York and shooting the show. It was great. Even just driving to work every day was always an adventure. There’s just so much construction, just so much things that they’re doing: under the ground, fixing the pipes.”
He returned home to Pacific Palisades from another trip to New York City, where he was on a jury at the Tribeca Film Festival in the spring.
He says “every time I come back (to New York) I say ‘Jeez, you know, maybe I do want to move back here for a little bit. I want my cake and eat it, too. Back to New York.”
Maybe Liotta needs to go on another hike near his home in the Highlands to remind him that nothing beats Pacific Palisades with its fresh air, greenery and glorious views. Oh, and it doesn’t snow here, either.