His HBO pilot Boardwalk Empire may be garnering attention as of late, but it was this week in 1990 that Martin Scorsese released his full-throttle gangster classic. Sean Macaulay on the film and the careers it helped launch.

Everett Collection; Evan Agostini / AP Photo

Everett Collection; Evan Agostini / AP Photo

Ray Liotta

New Jersey native Liotta was 36 when he starred as mob stool pigeon Henry Hill. Producer Irwin Winkler originally wanted Tom Cruise, the New York Post reports, for the part until Liotta cornered him one night in a restaurant and said, "Look, I know you don't really want me for it, but..." He eventually won Winkler over with his breakout part in Goodfellas lead to a string of lead roles, such as Turbulence and Unforgettable. Most recently, the often-typecast actor played a mob boss in the Tina Fey and Steve Carell comedy Date Night.

Everett Collection; Carlo Allegri / AP Photo

Robert De Niro

Goodfellas is one of eight collaborations between Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese. Their latest, the 2004 animated film Shark Tale, was a bit of a PG-rated take on the mob genre. But another gritty gangster story is in the works for the close-knit pair—an adaptation of Charles Brandt's 2005 novel I Heard You Paint Houses about the murder of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa.

Everett Collection; John M. Heller / Getty Images

Joe Pesci

Joe Pesci won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his squeaky-voiced turn as the "bad seed" of the Cicero crime family. His improvised line " How am I funny?" was voted as the No. 87 on "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere magazine. Now 67, Pesci most recently appeared alongside Helen Mirren as husband-and-wife brothel owners in Love Ranch.

Everett Collection; Peter Kramer / AP Photo

Lorraine Bracco

The actress's reward for playing Henry Hill's wife, Karen, was a lead role alongside Sean Connery in the big-budget rainforest romance Medicine Man. Although the film flopped, Bracco bounced back with an eight-year run on HBO's hit drama The Sopranos as sexy psychiatrist Dr. Melfi. The tough-as-nails actress can be seen in the TNT's cop drama Rizzoli and Isles.

Everett Collection; Patrick McMullan

Chuck Low

In Goodfellas, this portly character actor played wig salesman and degenerate gambler Morris "Morrie" Kessler; but in real life, Low was once Robert De Niro's real-estate broker. He reportedly rented him a penthouse in what would later become the TriBeCa Film Center. Like more than two-dozen other cast members of Goodfellas, he went on to appear in HBO's mob series The Sopranos.

Everett Collection; Jason Kempin / Getty Images

Paul Sorvino

The 50-year-old actor played his namesake, no-nonsense, roly-poly Paulie Cicero, crime boss in Goodfellas. But despite the seeming similarities between the Pauls, Sorvino insisted their personalities could not be more different. "I'm a big softie," actress Mirano Sorvino's father admitted. The now 71-year-old star went on to appear in everything from Star Trek to See Spot Run.

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Debi Mazar

Mazar was just 25 when she played Ray Liotta's coke-snorting mistress and has gone on to maintain a varied career, including Dancing With the Stars and working with Woody Allen. Now married with two children, she hosts an Internet show with her husband about Italian cooking, Under a Tuscan Gun, and appears on the Disney Channel brotherly boy-band television series Jonas L.A..