- AFI's 100 Years... Series:
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies: #94
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition): #92
- AFI's 10 Top 10:
- #2, Gangster
- Cast the Expert: According to Nicholas Pileggi, some actual mobsters were hired as extras to lend authenticity to scenes. One of them, Louis Eppolito, was an NYPD detective and son of a Gambino family member who later turned out to have been doing hits for the mob while on the force. The mobsters gave fake Social Security numbers to Warner Bros. and it is unknown how they received their paychecks.
- Cast the Runner-Up: When Frank Vincent went to meet Martin Scorsese about being cast in the film, Scorsese asked Vincent which character he wanted to play, and he said he wanted the role of Paulie. Scorsese then said "Don't play Paulie, play Billy Batts."
- The Danza: Paul Cícero, played by Paul Sorvino.
- Detectives Deacy and Silvestri are played by Ed Deacy and Larry Silvestri, respectively.
- Dawson Casting:
- DVD Commentary: In addition to a creator commentary, the Two-Disc Special Edition has a "Crook & Cop" commentary, which feature Henry Hill (the ex-gangster whom the film is based on) and the prosecutor who used Henry as a witness in mob cases and put him into witness protection. The pair provide an insight into what the gangsters were like in real life.
- Enforced Method Acting/Improv: A number of scenes are partially ad-libbed with actors not told beforehand:
- Specially relevant in the "I'm funny how?" one; Pesci and Liotta were instructed to improvise, other actors didn't know what was going to happen so their surprised-to-panicked reactions and puzzled faces are genuine. The scene mirrors what happened to Pesci in real life; he told a mobster in a restaurant that he was funny and the mobster got angry. Scorsese implemented it once he learnt about it, as it wasn't in the book.
- Scorsese also had all the actors involved in the kitchen scene (while Billy Batts was still in the trunk) simply improvise their dialogue for that sequence. The final scene with Spider was also ad-libbed, with the only scripted line being "Why don't you go fuck yourself?"
- Real-Life Relative:
- Lorraine Bracco's two real life daughters played the part of Judy Hill at different ages. Margaux Guerard played Judy (aged 10) and Stella Keitel, played the part of Judy (aged 4 or 5).
- Martin Scorsese's mother, Catherine Scorsese, plays Tommy's mother. She and the cast ad-libbed the dinner scene. Scorsese's father, Charles Scorsese, plays Vinny the prisoner who puts too many onions in the tomato sauce and later murders Tommy
- The two girls who play Ruth at age 8 and age 11 are actual sisters.
- Star-Making Role: For Joe Pesci. The actor had a long line of critically acclaimed films to his name such as Raging Bull and Once Upon a Time in America, and even had a couple of hits before Goodfellas with Home Alone and Lethal Weapon 2. But it was his performance as Tommy that left an indelible mark on audiences and took him from an actor with some recognition to a household name, also winning him the Oscar in the process.
- Throw It In!:
- When Paulie confronts Henry after Henry's released from prison, Paul Sorvino improvised the slap to Ray Liotta's face, hence Liotta's reaction.
- For the scene where Sonny Bunz complains to Paulie, Martin Scorsese secretly told Tony Darrow to improvise more lines for his character without telling Paul Sorvino. Sorvino's confused reaction was real.
- According to Debi Mazar, when her character trips after meeting Henry it was actually Mazar tripping over the camera dolly track. Scorsese liked it because it looked like she was overwhelmed by Henry and left it in the film.
- What Could Have Been:
- Warner Bros. suggested Tom Cruise for Henry Hill and Madonna for Karen. Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen were also considered and Alec Baldwin auditioned.
- Al Pacino was offered the role of Jimmy Conway but he turned it down due to fears of typecasting. Ironically, that same year Pacino ended up playing an even more stereotyped gangster - Big Boy Caprice in Dick Tracy. He regretted this decision. John Malkovich also turned it down.
- Working Title: Wiseguy, the title of the book it was based on; changed to avoid confusion with the TV series Wiseguy and the 1986 Brian De Palma film Wise Guys.
Trivia / GoodFellas