Ray Liotta Says He's Nothing Like His Tough-Guy Roles: 'I Have Never Been in a Fight'

The actor now stars in the third season of Amazon Prime Video's action-thriller series Hanna

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Ray Liotta. Photo: John Lamparski/Getty

Ray Liotta has made a name for himself playing intense characters over the years.

Though beloved for his role in the 1990 mafia classic Goodfellas, Liotta, 66, is a far cry from his assumed tough-guy demeanor. "I have never been in a fight at all, except for during sports, and that's just pushing and goofy kid stuff," he tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. Now he's starring in the HBO prequel film to The Sopranos, The Many Saints of Newark, and has joined the cast of the third season of Amazon Prime Video's action-thriller series Hanna as new villain Gordon Evans.

Christopher Raphael/Amazon Prime

For more of our exclusive interview with Liotta, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

The New Jersey-raised actor, who was adopted from an orphanage as a baby by his father Alfred, an auto parts store owner, and mom Mary, has never taken family for granted.

"At first, I didn't understand how a parent could give up a child," says Liotta, who is now engaged to Jacy Nittolo, 47. "So I had that kind of energy of just being like, that's f---ed up. And then when I finally met my birth mom in my forties, by then, I wasn't as angry about it. It's just another journey."

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Ray Liotta/Instagram

After winning his first movie role at 30 in 1986's Something Wild, Liotta played a variety of characters to avoid being typecast — but "bad guys just seem to stand out to people," he says. "It's weird how this business works, because I've definitely had a career that's up and down. For some reason, I've been busier this year than I have in all the years that I've been doing this. And I still feel I'm not there yet. I just think there's a lot more."

Navigating the downtimes of his career meant focusing on the silver linings. "You got to put something like that on [a tough situation]," says Liotta, who is also dad to daughter Karsen, 22, with ex-wife Michelle Grace. "Doesn't mean that you're happy while it's happening. You could look back in hindsight and say, 'You know what? This was happening because it was supposed to be.' But when you're in the middle of it, it's just kind of 'F--- me.'"

Even during the pandemic, "luckily, I had met somebody, and it brought us really, really close, to the point now where I'm engaged," he says. "So I like to think that was the reason. I've heard that there's a lot of people whose relationship didn't work out because they were with each other so much. But she's just great."

These days he's grateful for it all. "After years, you grow up, and you just see the pattern of things," Liotta says. "I've definitely developed more patience. Now I'm grateful for my health. And being born. For my parents that adopted me. I mean, it could have gone a lot of different ways."

Season 3 of Hanna is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

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