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Remembering Goodfellas' Henry Hill and the time I saw him live

Kelly Lee Barrett

The late Henry Hill at a Cinespia screening at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

I didn't know much about Henry Hill when I first saw him. I'd never seen "Goodfellas." But I was one of the hundreds who had the chance to hear directly from the horse's mouth at a Cinespia screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery before a screening of the film, less than two years ago. Hill died last week at the age of 69.

The film, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a gripping story of life in the mob and how things began falling apart in the 1970s from the way crime families had traditionally worked thanks to the influx of drugs. It's based on the book "Wiseguy" by journalist Nicholas Pileggi, telling the story through the life of Henry Hill.

Hill's appearance to do a Q&A before the film offered as a real life update on the film, as well as a fact check.

"It's 95 percent on the money," Hill said. "They had to take liberties because it's Hollywood, it's not a bad place, but it's 95 percent accurate and Scorsese did an unbelievable, fantastic job."

Hill said that he didn't feel like his life was in danger anymore — you would hope not given very public appearances like this one. Hill was also a regular on the Howard Stern Show. He was kicked out of the witness protection program in the early 1990s after serving as an informant against the mob, due to his inability to stay out of trouble with the law.

He did get asked about one more serious issue. The interviewer at the Cinespia screening asked him one lingering question from the film: "In real life, who really killed Billy Batts?"

Hill's answer? "I respectfully refuse to answer, on the ground-- I didn't! I kicked him a couple times when he was down, but... he had it coming!" Hill said chuckling, to laughs from the crowd. "He had it coming! I hope there's no one in here that's related to him."

He also spoke highly of his ex-wife Karen. "She's alive and well, taking care of my two granddaughters," Hill said. "She's doing well. She's fine. She's on the East Coast. We speak often, and she's a great lady and she always was and she always will be."

Hill joked at the screening that he hoped to be able to come back. He then pointed to the mausoleum behind him and added, "You know, not like one of these guys," to laughs from the crowd. No word on whether he'll be buried at Hollywood Forever too.

You can watch the Hollywood Forever Cinespia Q&A below:

Correction: Nicholas Pileggi's name initially had a letter dropped in this post.

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