to the fifth massive installment of Joe Carnahan’s answers to your questions. Joe’s new movie, Smokin’ Aces, is on its way to movie theaters on January 26th, and while we’re all waiting for that, Joe has started a blog: Part of that blog is answering the questions of CHUD readers, and this is the fifth installment. Catch up:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Joe wants more questions, so feel free to send yours in – questions about his movies or anything else under the sun – to me at with Smokin’ Joe Carnahan in the subject line. And by the way, if you like the poster here, it’s one of the rejected designs for the movie – Joe has more at his blog. Very cool stuff.

Forgive me if someone’s already asked this, but what prompted you to start shaving your head? Just tired of washing your hair? Lice? Or do the ladies like it?



A combination of bad personal hygiene and a rare, incurable form of Herpes that attacks the hair follicles at the root. This is what caused me to shave my head initially. Afterward, I just grew fond of what the girls call ‘that bristly feeling’ and kept it up. KIDDING. No man, I originally lost a bet with my dad on the golf course. He said I would never shave my head because it was ‘shaped like an egg’ I bet him on the next hole and he (shaving strokes mind you) beat me and I chopped it all off. I love it because it is virtually maintenance free and becomes a barren breeding ground for dandruff and other embarrassing hair-related conditions. That said, I’m sporting more hair right now than in the last six years.

Glad you liked BGBO and NARC. You will most certainly dig ‘SMOKIN’ ACES’.




While I can’t wait to attend my advance screening of Smokin’ Aces come early January, all I’ve been able to think about is White Jazz, especially the decision to cast George Clooney in the role which is the best casting news this year next to Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Props to you sir.

Since you’ll be tackling a very noir piece from such a noir writer, what are some of your favorite works from the film noir genre, let’s say Top 5?

Also, since it is a James Ellroy adaptation, how do some of his prior adaptations stack up in your eyes, in particular L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia?

Thanks man and keep up the great work! -

Chris Wisner

Bloomington, IN


Top 5 noir films of all-time? Man, this is always a minefield, because invariably I wind up with one glaring omission that pisses me off after the fact. I’ll give it a shot anyway. These five, in no particular order, leap to mind. I consider these straight Noir as well.

Blood Simple
The Long Goodbye
Chinatown (overrated, but I still love it)
Tokyo Drifter
Stray Dog

Hope that helps man. Let’s see if we can jack ‘White Jazz’ into that group when it’s all said and done.


Concerning the violence in your films- Narc was a gritty, violent piece of work, and the word on Smokin’ Aces is that it’s supposed to be even MORE violent than Narc. What I wanted to know is: did you encounter any trouble from the MPAA over either Narc or Smokin’ Aces, and what tips would you give to fledgling filmmakers on how to sneak in violence past the MPAA?

Josh Katz


I feel like we live in a largely puritanical society and things like violence and the depiction of violence in films are such hot-button issues that they become cause celebre anytime a hard charging politico hellbent on holding office, or some douchebag evangelical looking to lead the moral charge on behalf of Christ needs their name in print. It’s ridiculous. I’m not a violent person, but when you’re telling a story that involves hitmen, mercenaries, feds, cops and a million dollar bounty…somebody is getting hurt. Blood will spill, bruises will bloom, bodies will drop. That’s the sum of that equation. I’m not a proponent of, nor a staunch advocate for violence in films. However, if it is necessary to the telling of a particular story, then I will not flinch, or shy away from my responsibility as the filmmaker to depict it in a way that’s befitting and appropriate to that end.

And I wouldn’t try to do anything slip violence by the MPAA. Hit ‘em with everything you’ve got. It’s the most honest way of attacking them and often times, a direct approach beats an end around.




Let’s say you’re writing and directing something – adaptation, original screenplay, snuff documentary, whatever – and you’re given a golden key to pick and choose your cast and crew from great filmmakers throughout history. Who would you pick and how would you sell them to the studio? (Price to pay for the golden key, you know…)

Leading man?
Leading lady?
"That" guy? (You have to have one)

Certainly you can hire a co-writer or an AD or some shit if you want. It’s your flick, after all. But you’ve still gotta sell the people in suits.

Washington DC


I’m sure this sounds trite and corny and lame, but at least it’s honest. I would take everyone I had on ‘Smokin’ Aces’ (Which I’m essentially doing on this next film) and roll them right into whatever dream project I had. I think establishing a short hand with a crew, trumps getting an all-star line-up culled from cinema’s illustrious past. The legions of filmmakers I’ve admired got where they got with a combination of hard work, straight hustle and pure guts…and there are egos involved to be sure. I wonder if combining the best from all those fields wouldn’t in fact hurt the process. I think if you want results you stick to the people that brought you to the plateau. The only ‘Guy’ as you mention, that I would throw in, purely as a ringer…would be a Paul Newman, circa 1967, in ‘Cool Hand Luke’. We’ve never had another one like Newman and we probably never will. I want to work with that man in the worst way. He looks as healthy as a race horse, so maybe I’ll get my chance someday soon.