Exclusive Interview: Joe Carnahan on The Grey, Why There Won't Be an A-Team 2 and More!
Writer/director Joe Carnahan might not be known for making emotional powerhouse type films, but with his latest, The Grey, he's looking to step beyond Hollywood's perceptions of his career and show off a different side of himself as a filmmaker.
Dread Central recently caught up with Carnahan for an exclusive interview with the director, who chatted with us about his long journey to get The Grey made, why he considers star Liam Neeson to be one of the greatest living actors today and the reason fans won't be seeing an A-Team 2 anytime soon. He also offered up a small tidbit on a brand new project that has yet to be announced.
Although the turnaround on The Grey from beginning of production until the film's release has been a relatively quick one (just a tad over a year now), Carnahan discussed how the project had been in the works for well over four years now.
"I first read Ian's (co-writer Ian Mackenzie Jeffers) short story back when I was working on MI:3, before I got fired or I quit - who knows anymore (laughs) - but as soon as I read the short story, I fell in love with it," explained Carnahan. "I loved the journey, the emotions and how smart it was, and frankly, it was unlike anything I was really doing around that time. It was the absolute opposite of the 'big star, big studio' world I was working in, and I knew that I had to make this stripped-down story of survival into a movie."
"I had Ian give me a partial draft of a script after I read his story, and I basically worked with that for over four and a half years until I was absolutely comfortable with the story. It was nice to work like that because I wasn't under anyone else's deadline so I had the luxury of letting the story evolve for a long time, which is rare," added Carnahan.
And while Carnahan never would turn down an opportunity to collaborate with Neeson (the two worked together on The A-Team back in 2009), he explained how a random conversation at dinner ended up in the pair reteaming for The Grey. "I had been out to dinner with Jules (Daly, producer), and Liam overheard us talking about the project a few seats away and asked me what it was about and if there was 'something in there for me.' And of course there was so I sent him the script in August 2010, he loved it and we began shooting in January 2011. It was an incredibly quick turnaround process, but everything really worked out great."
"I really feel like Liam is one of our greatest living actors. He's eminently watchable and has such a nobility that he brings into every one of his roles. The way he can carry a story on his shoulders is so effortless that I knew bringing him onto The Grey was going to be something special, and his onscreen grace really lent itself well to the emotional aspects of this story. He's the complete package," added Carnahan.
When it came time to finish casting The Grey, Carnahan talked about how necessary it was to get "men" involved in the film and not cater to Hollywood's expectations of a cast filled with a bunch of "pretty boys".
"It's funny; when we were casting, I had a lot of 'big names' wanting to come in and audition, and one of the 'bigger' names on my list called me the day of his audition to ask if we could reschedule because he had a cold," said Carnahan. "I knew right there that wasn't going to fly because of the type of movie we were planning on making. I knew that he wasn't the 'stock' of actor we needed involved with this, and I really couldn't be any happier with our entire cast that we finally did assemble. This wasn't an easy shoot, but they made it easier for me in some respects by being so willing to endure a tough shoot."
Carnahan added "And when you see these guys talk about their lives, and why they have to survive, you believe them because a lot of what you see about their characters is true to life. Pictures of their families, stories they tell of their kids, that's all real. It's hard to explain, but it added so much emotion and authenticity to their scenes."
As the director behind a few studio action films, no one was thinking Carnahan had a shot at making The Grey successfully - and the person who doubted him the most was the director himself.
"Honestly, a lot of the reasoning behind me wanting to go and make a movie like The Grey was because of the perception of my career in the industry and the fact that I didn't want to be known as the guy who could only make one kind of film. I have more of a kinship with my movies like Narc or Smokin' Aces more so than, say, The A-Team; and I knew making The Grey would be a huge challenge for me because I wasn't sure I could actually do it."
With The Grey heading to theaters everywhere on January 27th, we asked Carnahan what's up next for him and whether or not he thought fans might get to enjoy a second A-Team on the big screen.
"I really don't see a second A-Team movie happening; the reality of what making a movie like that costs is just really too huge to be worth the gamble at this point," explained Carnahan. "Before you even shoot anything, you already know it's going to cost 'X' to make it and 'Y' to market it, and I don't see that kind of money being spent on another movie. The reality is that we came out during the same summer as The Karate Kid remake, which had a completely different tone to it than our movie did, and I honestly think that hurt us a bit."
"Killing Pablo is definitely a future project that is close to my heart, but there's another opportunity that has come up recently that involves a property from the 1970's that I am pretty excited about. I can't say what property that is, but I do welcome the speculation (laughs). But we've gotten the official green light on it, and we've got the producing team from Black Swan and The Ides of March on board so it's really exciting for me. I expect we'll be shooting that one closer to the end of the year, and that's the most I've told anyone about the project so far (laughs)," added Carnahan.
Open Road Films will release the highly anticipated, action-packed survival thriller The Grey (review here) in theaters nationwide on January 27th, 2012.
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