Into 'The Grey': An Interview with Director Joe Carnahan
Beliefnet’s Senior Entertainment Editor, Evan Derrick, had a chance to talk with director Joe Carnahan (NARC, SMOKING ACES, THE A-TEAM) about his latest film, THE GREY, starring Liam Neeson, about a group of men struggling against an arctic pack of territorial wolves following a violent plane crash. Discussions of God vs. fate; filming a death scene the right way; and why Antonio Banderas’ name should be both bolded and italicized were all on the table.
BELIFENET: You know, I wasn’t expecting the film to be what it turned out to be. It was a very subtle film, in many ways, and you’re directing oeuvre isn’t exactly filled with subtle films.
JOE CARNAHAN: (laughing) I think the notion that anyone will only [make films] a certain way, THE GREY is part of my response to that. I thought, well shoot, I can make a film like THE A-TEAM or SMOKING ACES but my kinship is a lot closer to films like NARC. So I thought it was essential to have this deep, emotional pull and draw for the film to really work, and not just be something you can easily dismiss. To be honest, most of the time you leave the theater, and you’re like, “Well, that was nice but where did I park?” It doesn’t really stick with you. My ultimate goal for this film, for anyone that sees it, is that it will stick with you a lot longer than the two hours it takes to watch it.
BN: I did not expect a lot of the spiritual discussions about the existence of God, God vs. fate, who’s really in control.
JC: It was something I was interested in putting in there because it seemed to me it was subject matter in a format that would lend itself to those types of discussions, those types of concerns. The idea that when these men are facing death, a great many things can begin to occur to you at that point. The film for me wouldn’t have any real meaning if I couldn’t delve into that stuff, and have these guys ask those questions, and have different points of view about it. I wasn’t making, say, a very basic survival film without anything that people could really hang on to… It’s very important for me, man, that the movie not just be, “Ok, lets create some bizarre artificial scares.”
After the plane crash lands and the survivors band together inside the wreckage, it becomes clear that one of them is not going to live for much longer. Liam Neeson’s character takes the man’s hand and comforts him as he slips away.