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Five True Stories Behind Goodfellas to Kick Off Mob Mondays on AMC

It should come as no surprise that one of the most iconic mob movies of all time shares many close, and sometimes deadly, ties to the actual Mafia. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Goodfellas, AMC is airing the Remastered Edition of Goodfellas, this Monday, June 15 at 7/6c during the first night of Mob Mondays: an eight-week event with a classic mob movie every night, followed by AMC’s new docu-drama, The Making of the Mob: New York, at 10/9c. Learn some true tales behind Goodfellas below, then tune into The Making of the Mob: New York to learn more about the men who created America’s greatest crime syndicate.

1. The real Henry Hill was a little too proud of the movie.
After the premiere and subsequent critical acclaim of Goodfellas, the real-life Henry Hill (portrayed onscreen by Ray Liotta), went around telling everyone his real identity, despite being in the Witness Protection Program. It wasn’t long before the government kicked him out of the program. In 2012, Hill passed away from a heart attack at age 69 — reportedly, even he was surprised he never got whacked.

2. The “How am I funny?” scene was inspired by Joe Pesci’s real interaction with a mobster.
When he was young, Joe Pesci worked in a restaurant. One day, he told a customer, who was also a real-life mobster, that he was funny. The mobster did not take the compliment well. Pesci later shared the story with director Martin Scorsese, who asked him to improvise the “How am I funny?” scene with Ray Liotta. Scorsese didn’t tell the other actors what was happening, so the surprised looks from the rest of the cast are genuine.

3. Many real — and deadly — mobsters appear in the movie.
Nicholas Pileggi, the author of the book on which Goodfellas is based, said Scorsese held an open call for real wiseguys and filled bit parts with mobsters, many of whom come straight from jail. Additionally, the character “Fat Tony” was played by an ex-NYPD officer, Louis Eppolito, who grew up in a mob family. In 2005, Eppolito was arrested for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, and racketeering after working with the Lucchese crime family.

4. Karen Hill was a force to be reckoned with.
According to the real-life Henry Hill, the moment when his wife Karen (portrayed onscreen by Lorraine Bracco) had a gun to his face (a moment also seen in Goodfellas) was the most afraid he’d ever been in his life.

5. The real federal agent behind Henry and Karen Hill’s case plays himself in the film.
When the real-life Henry and Karen Hill were negotiating to enter the Witness Protection Program, they spoke with U.S. Attorney Edward McDonald. When Martin Scorsese scouted McDonald’s office for use as a film location, McDonald volunteered himself for the part. After doing a screen test for Scorsese, he won the role and re-enacted his actual conversation, also improvising the line, “Don’t give me the babe-in-the-woods routine, Karen.”

Click here for more information about Mob Mondays and The Making of the Mob: New York, premiering Monday, June 15 at 10/9c.

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