For the making of Martin Scorsese’s classic Goodfellas, Scorsese collaborated with producer and screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi. Together they took credit for writing the script which had to go through 12 iterations before being considered finished.
Scorsese persuaded Pileggi that they shouldn’t follow the traditional narrative structure of having a start, middle and end but rather wanted to deal with the story in episodes of sort and start in the middle, move backwards and forwards. After some trial and error Scorsese discovered that by keeping the scenes short,”the impact after about an hour and a half would be terrific”.
Throughout the creation of the film and script Nicholas Pileggi kept in constant contact with the real Henry Hill, stating that most of what is said throughout the narration of the film are exact quotes from Hill himself.
Scorsese made sure to keep associates of the real people being portrayed in order to keep his film as accurate as possible by receiving essential information about the life, people, settings, and moods.
An interesting fact about the film is that the “How am I funny?” scene is based on something that actually happened to Joe Pesci while working in a restaurant when he was younger. Pesci apparently told a mobster that he was funny, a compliment that was met with a less-than-enthusiastic response. When this scene was being filmed Scorsese didn’t include it in the shooting script so that Pesci and Ray Liotta’s interactions would elicit genuinely surprised reactions from the supporting cast.