Ray Liotta thinks you're used to seeing him as a bad guy, or at least a thug. So when the movie Battle in Seattle came his way, offering him the chance to wear a suit and not have to punch anyone he took it. Even though he has very little interest in politics or the situation that surrounded the WTO riots in 1999, he jumped at the role of Jim Tobin, the Seattle mayor who was caught between letting the protesters exercise their right to free assembly and putting forth a good face for his city, which was descending into chaos. Read below to hear what he thinks about his morally ambiguous character, as well as his hopes to play a romantic someday-- at least, a romantic who doesn't have to strangle the girl after he kisses her.
Do you have any particular political causes?
My parents were involve with politics, and I saw what it did to them. it was just ugly. I've never been political in any kind of way.
What made you do this movie?
I got to wear a suit. It was a good part, a mature part. I wasn't beating people up or doing any of that silly stuff. I liked the combination of people that were attached to it. Just actor reasons, in terms of growing as an actor. To play someone that conflicted, with that kind of choice. It was a compelling part.
You have some comedies coming out [including Observe and Report with Seth Rogen]. Is there a funny side of you you think audiences don't know?
Who knows the reasons. I'm not like the people that I play at all. The people I grew up with kind of laugh, that I play these tough guys.
Are there particular actors that you've been inspired by?
When i first started it was DeNiro, Pacino, those kinds of guys. I never wanted to be an actor, and when I decided I did [in the 1970s], those were the movies that were happening. I was just becoming an actor. I was influenced by them. If anything, this movie probably belongs back then [in the 1970s].
Do you plan to continue acting, or would you like to do other things?
I want to produce more. I have no desire to direct. I do think that some day something will come along, and it will just resonate for me [to want to direct it]. I'll know how to do it. But it's not something I'm setting out to do. I like the producing part.
What role would you like to play that you haven't?
Probably something more romantic, where I could kiss the girl without choking her first.
What are you doing in Observe and Report?
I'm playing a cop who doesn't want to go to a mall, because some people's shoes were stolen. Seth Rogen is a mall cop who is really overly obnoxiously serious about it. Then there's a flasher. I'd rather be on a murder case, or something that cops do, but not looking for a flasher. It's just that confrontation.
So you're his nemesis?