Joe Carnahan, Ray Liotta Look Back at 'Narc'

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Joe Carnahan, Ray Liotta Reflect on Changes to Movie Business

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Movie poster for "Narc"

Director Joe Carnahan, currently basking in the success of his film "The Grey," dropped by New Beverly Cinema on February 8, 2012, for a screening of his movies "Narc" and "Smokin' Aces." Much of the night consisted of him talking about "Narc," bringing along Ray Liotta, who played veteran Detective Henry Oak, as a surprise guest. Both took the time to answer questions from New Beverly's Julie Marchese and the audience there that evening, and the director even gave away some promotional materials from "The Grey."

The Q&A actually took place before the movies were shown instead of in between, for a change. Carnahan said this provided a getaway opportunity for him in case the audience thought his movies suck.

For Carnahan, there is no difference between a making a movie like "Narc" and the summer blockbuster that was "The A-Team" except that the food was better on the latter production. The upside of working on such a low budget movie like "Narc," the director said, was how nice it is not to deal with "chefs," which I assume is his code for studio executives. He ended up putting what he said in another way:

"There are many chefs on a movie set, but not all of them can cook."

In getting "Narc" made, Carnahan said the script had been floating around Hollywood for some time. There was trouble getting it off the ground as people were not taking him or this project seriously, and his previous film, "Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane," was so different from the follow-up. Liotta had the script for "Narc" dangled in front of him by his agents at Endeavor, and he ended up serving as one of the movie's producers and became instrumental in getting it made.

Liotta said choosing to do "Narc" was all about the story, admitting that he "didn't see the ending coming." He described the script as being so big, and he did a lot of homework to prepare for his role. Carnahan added that Liotta has a low opinion of himself and finds that the best ideas come from "a lot of preparation," be it watching movies or talking with police detectives about their work.

The fans of "Narc" all seem to be in agreement at how heavily influenced it is by the gritty cop movies of the 1970s. Carnahan admitted his favorite cop movie is "The French Connection," noting that he got to meet with director William Friedkin, who ended up telling Carnahan:

"I wish I could make that movie today."

Carnahan ended the Q&A by encouraging the audience to get up and support filmmakers of all kinds. Using "Transformers" director Michael Bay as an example, he said that while many people don't like Bay's work and despise him for the films he has made thus far, the action filmmaker is the only one who can give you that Michael Bay movie experience in a way others cannot. Supporting him is the equivalent to supporting others who succeed in making movies on their own terms.

Liotta himself remarked how lucky he has been to work with directors like Carnahan, whose excitement and passion for "playing pretend" is so strong. The actor said he loves it when directors are this excited as their fun becomes "very contagious." Watching "Narc" is to see that excitement played out to such memorable effect; there aren't many movies like this one out in theaters today. Hopefully that will change very soon.

Other articles by Ben Kenber:

"The A-Team" - Mindlessly Entertaining Summer Fun

William Friedkin Discusses the Development of "The French Connection" Car Chase

William Friedkin Gets Special Tribute from American Cinematheque

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