other day we announced that Joe Carnahan, director of Narc and next month’s Smokin’ Aces, would be answering your questions on his blog,
The response was terrific; we got a ton of great questions, which Joe has been answering at a damn quick clip.

This is the second installment, and there are more coming, but I still need more questions! Send your Carnahan Qs to me at,
with Smokin’ Joe Carnahan in the subject line so they don’t get lost in
the spam. Feel free to ask Joe about anything under the sun – this
sonuvabitch is gonna answer the hell out of your questions.

Hey Joe.

A fan from France here. I don’t know whether Mr. Carnahan is at liberty to talk about it or not but I was wondering if he could tell us more about what he intended to do exactly on MISSION : IMPOSSIBLE – 3. Whether it would have been shot in a gritty style (as with NARC) or maybe with a little more polished cinematography (as with TICKER) ? Would it have been closer to the original TV series ? How would he compare it to recent spy/government agent flicks or shows such as the BOURNE franchise, 24, even CASINO ROYALE and, of course, De Palma’s and Woo’s and especially Abrams’ MISSION : IMPOSSIBLE movies? Since they too have tried to explore the genre with a more down to earth, even dark, approach.

Plus, I never really got who was going to write it. I heard there was an extraordinary script by Frank Darabont that got written. Was that for David Fincher? For Mr. Carnahan? Before J.J. Abrams?

Ok so it’s not exactly ONE question but I’m really curious about what could have been and hope you guys can give us some answers.

Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!

Robert Hospyan.


We were going to absolutely take it gritty. I had told Tom and the studio that I wanted the ‘Punk Rock’ version of the series and I wanted to kick the shit out of the ‘Bourne’ series which I feel is so good and so smart. It seemed a perfect standard to try and vault if we could.

We were going to Africa with it. We were dealing with Private Military.

We had Kenneth Brannagh and Carrie-Anne Moss and Scarlett Johansen and easily the most kick ass story of the bunch. The real great script was the work of Dan Gilroy, who, oddly, is the younger brother of ‘Bourne’ scribe Tony Gilroy. He wrote a helluva draft that would have elevated that whole series to another level. It was very much a throwback to the TV show. Five people, working in tandem as opposed to one guy and a bunch of assistants.

Hope that helps a bit.




Really loved Narc and can’t wait to see Smokin’ Aces. As I’m in Dublin, Ireland, I fear it won’t be till mid next year until I do. Speaking of which, I’m an editor, producer, writer by trade and I’m really interested in the way you edit and construct your sequences. The indication from what of I’ve seen of Aces is the pace seems to be radically different from Narc. How do you go about the construction of and what do you edit on, AVID, FCP? Also, rumor has it that a Dublin animation company did your opening sequence for the movie, true? Good luck with the movie. Look forward to hearing your comments.

Thanks, Adrian.


Voodoo Dog out of London did the opening and closing sequences.

Sorry man, as a fellow Irishman we’re always dubious about the Brits, but I love ‘em and they did standout work.

In terms of approaching the work, I always go at it with a pretty clear thesis. I don’t believe in just cutting to cut. I think every scene and every sequence has to have a clear creative mandate and I went at ‘Smokin’ Aces’ in a very direct, deliberate fashion. I think if you’re just throwing images and different angles together, you wind up with horseshit. Sure you can follow the progression of the story and I guess there’s momentum there, but it’s awfully empty and doesn’t do anything beyond accomplish a kind of ‘collage’ that pushes the story. It just doesn’t push it in the ways that make sense to me. First and foremost, from the characters perspective. I tried to make each sequence in Smokin’ Aces reflect the individuals characters.

And if you see the flick, I think you’ll see what I was going for.




I still remember seeing Narc in theaters when it was first released and I’ve been waiting (too long now) for your next film.I was wondering if you could spend some time talking about the development process of Smokin’ Aces. Under what circumstances did you conceive of and write the script? Are the characters in the film written for specific actors, and, if so, which actors did you write for? (As an avid observer of all things Hollywood, it’s easy to note that Ray Liotta had a major role in Narc and shows up again in SA, so I would naturally assume a relationship between the two of you was formed…) How does one go about putting together such an amazing cast?

The trailers for the SA advertise a film that is rife with manic energy… is it difficult to keep that kind of energy up during a film shoot? With so many characters coming and going (in the trailers at least), was it difficult to give everyone screen time while editing the film?

Can’t wait to see this thing in Jan…

Ryan Campbell


I really started with about thirty pages that I wrote way back in ’93. From there they just kind of gestated and grew till finally I felt comfortable developing those ideas out into a feature. My biggest influence was really my running fascination with Frank Sinatra and his alleged mob connections. I always thought, ‘wow, what if he just decided one day that he wanted to parlay his status as a big Hollywood star, into the criminal world. What would happen?’ That was really the genesis of the whole thing. Working Title had purchased those initial 30 pages and really helped me develop it and waited patiently as I toiled away on a couple other projects.

In terms of writing for specific actors, no. I never do. Although I knew I wanted Ray Liotta (who remains the ace of my staff) in there somewhere, I wanted to keep it fluid until the end. The script itself allowed for a lot of characters to participate, so I think everyone wound up with a good chunk of film in the end.

The set was a blast. I run a really fun, loose, energetic floor. I let everybody do their thing and try to keep things positive and propel the day along. ‘Narc’ was far more stressful and appropriately so, given its subject matter.



questions for the amazing Joe Carnahan…

1. Is any movement currently being made on your remake of ‘Bunny Lake Is Missing’ and if so do you still plan on shooting it before ‘White Jazz’?

2. Are there any other novels that you would love to be able to adapt?

3. Would you ever consider doing a science fiction, fantasy, or horror film?

Thanks for you time,



Bunny Lake looks good man and I can’t say anymore than that. If it comes together, it will happen before WJ, but I won’t do anything to jeopardize the amount of preparation we need on that.

I would’ve loved a shot at adapting ‘The Corrections’ Jonathan Franzen’s novel, because I adore that book. Some lucky bastard beat me to it.

I actually have a great horror film I’m writing with a friend of mine right now and a Sci-Fi action film that I’m going to do on Spec in the next six months. I love those genres and have just never given myself the chance to explore them.