Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster movie, goodfellas Was released 31 years ago on 19 September. The film not only proved to be a gripping look at the harsh life of gangster Henry Hill, but also went on to become one of the best gangster movies of all time.
The film also starred Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway, Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito. Among all the gangsters played by men in the film, there was Lorraine Bracco, who played Karen Hill – the only woman in the main cast.
Bracko plays Henry Hill’s wife in ‘Goodfellas’
Karen Hill was a Jewish girl who fell in love with a gangster. After being considered against candidates such as Madonna, Bracko took the role. She also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Female) for her part. Despite these accolades that followed, Bracko found the role falling short. He said the new York Times That it was emotionally challenging for her to play the role of a lonely woman in the brutal and violent world of male gangsters.
He believed that he had to work hard on his performance to avoid editing his scenes from the film.
“If I didn’t make my job important, it would probably end up on the cutting room floor,” Bracko said.
As the only woman in the group of men in the film, Bracko felt a heavy burden. She was sure that if her performance was not exceptional, she would not get the same importance as her male counterparts.
“Marty said to me, ‘I know you think I only make men’s movies, but I really love this character, Karen.’” Bracko said. “But I think if it took the push to push, if the performance wasn’t, he would have made the film more geared to Ray and the boys, so I felt a little extra pressure on me.”
Bracko finds Karen and Henry’s relationship unhealthy
In the film, Bracko’s Karen is initially concerned about Henry’s illegal activities. But she gives up when she falls in love with him and his outside lifestyle.
Karen marries Henry, despite her parents’ approval. The film looks at Karen and Henry’s turbulent relationship as she unwittingly becomes involved in Henry’s criminal activities. During their first date, Henry seems extremely rude and then stands up for what is supposed to be their second date.
In a particular scene in the film, Karen torments Henry’s mistress with her words. In another, she holds a gun in her trembling hands that points at Henry as she threatens him over his infidelity.
Yet she chooses to help him break it and escape the law. Bracko notes that Scorsese and Liotta believed that Henry’s affection for Karen was genuine. While Bracco agreed, he had a different opinion about their relationship.
“I don’t see any difference between an abused wife and Karen Hill,” Bracko said. “Nothing in this, nothing, nothing romantic. I told Marty[Scorsese] and ray[Liotta] A hundred times, ‘I want to leave him.’ And in those days we will reform: ‘I’m leaving you, Henry,’ I would say, and he would[Liotta] Say, ‘You can’t be dear. you’re not going anywhere.’”
The real Karen divorced Henry in 1990
Apart from Karen’s soft spot for Henry, her character was not portrayed as timid and helpless. She was always torn between being with Henry and going out alone, and she always chose the former. But their relationship was a major critique of the power dynamics of marriage in gangster families.
However, eventually, Karen decides to release Henry. While Henry agreed to become an informant for the FBI and went under witness protection, he was still arrested in 1987 for smuggling cocaine. Even after divorcing Henry, Caron retained a surname to protect his identity.
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