Plus, that rumored Mr. T cameo, and crashing and burning with Cruise on “M:I:III”
Writer-producer-director Joe Carnahan first burst onto the scene in 1998 with his gritty indie debut feature, “Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane.” Shot in his spare time and then edited on borrowed equipment at night, his calling card was made on a budget of just $8,000. He followed that up with the well-received “Narc,” a Paramount release championed and executive produced by Tom Cruise, and another acclaimed feature, “Smokin’ Aces.” Now the former furniture-mover, freelance sports writer and TV trailer-cutter has directed Fox’s $100 million redo of the popular ‘80s TV action-comedy series “The A-Team.”
I didn’t want to just transplant the TV show to the big screen. I thought that’d be a disaster because what worked 25 years ago ain’t gonna work now. It’d be like Chris Nolan rebooting Batman along the lines of the original campy series.
It was very tough getting it right — and we were still working on it further into the production than I was comfortable with. I come mainly from a writing background, so I like to have the script just right before I start shooting — but that also speaks to my limitations as a filmmaker, that I need to have the brick and mortar laid in advance so I know where to step and where to watch myself.
It’s funny, but no. There’s a tendency to be overwhelmed by the numbers — $100 million!! — but I was never in a warehouse where I saw all that money. So it’s not tangible or tactile, or something I could put my hands on and feel that grave sense of responsibility. Was it different from “Narc”? Of course. The catering was better. But in many ways “Narc” was more difficult, as I didn’t have the tremendous talent and support staff surrounding me. On some level you’ve got to be a real moron to not get through a situation like this with all the amazing people around you, and if you can’t make it work with them, you’re probably better off getting another gig.
Oh, absolutely. It was all very gentlemanly and we patched things up. But listen, had I not had that experience, I don’t know that I would have been ready for this one, because I really learned a tremendous amount during my time on it. And I was on it for 15 months, man. I was out there for a long time. I spent five months in Europe and went out every night to great restaurants and walked and toured places. I know Berlin like the back of my hand, so I don’t have one regret about it.