December 2002
Narc : A Whole New Game : An Interview with Ray Liotta

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

Ray Liotta in Paramount's Narc - 2002Narc : A Whole New Game : An Interview with Ray Liotta

For as many films he has done and will continue to do, actor Ray Liottaís defining moment was probably when he played mob turncoat Henry Hill in ďGoodfellasĒ. It was a great role that led him to get more exposure and work in his profession. He has played all sorts of roles since then including that of a cop twice (Unlawful Entry, Copland). Well, heís back playing a cop for the third time but the character is totally different from the other two and Ray himself has role than as an actor in the film. Along with his wife Michelle Grace, he co-produced his latest film NARC and in an interview with, Ray talks about the leaps and bounds he took to get into character and get the film released.

WM: Can you talk about the weight you put on for this film?

RL: I put on about 25 pounds for it. Joe wrote that the character was a big bruising kind of guy and when I broke down the script and I was talking about how great it was with wife. When she died I became a better cop because I didnít care anymore; I think that permeated areas in his life. He just became obsessed in his work and the life of a cop is kind of rough. Itís kind of always on the run. Itís a lot of fast food. I donít think he was the type of guy who went home and made a salad after work.

Writer/Director Joe Carnahan and Ray Liotta on the set of Paramount's Narc - 2002WM: How is this role different from the other cop roles you've played before?

RL: Well, the other two were different. One was a drug addict in ďCoplandĒ and the other was a nut in ďUnlawful EntryĒ. This was a much real human being. I think itís also the first real man that Iíve played. I think itís the concerns that he had. The fact that he was doing everything for other people. Thatís a very manly thing to do. Just the nature of the story and what this was about. ďUnlawful EntryĒ was more like a Hollywood movie and ďCoplandĒ was more like a fairy tale and this film was a nitty-gritty reality.

WM: Was there any past research that carried over?

RL: Not really because so this was so much more emotional. Everything that my character is going through, what Iím dealing with, the guilt of the guy and what he did to himself, the love of the little girl, the love of my wife. I think this was a very righteous good cop who became so wind up that he started crossing the line. Basically you do research just to make sure that you know what you are doing technically such as how to hold the gun and look like a cop. Since I had done that so much there was never any real technique to be done for this film.

WM: Can you identify with the attraction of why people become cops?

Ray Liotta and Jason Patric in Paramount's Narc - 2002 RL: Oh yeah, I could see. Iím sure itís a very exciting job on the surface. I think most people become cops, thank God, to do good. I think a lot of people do it because itís in their family. Itís the only thing they know. Itís a very righteous job. In all professions, there are people who cross the line and become bad cops, but in general, I think most cops are probably good.

WM: What made you crack up in that bathroom scene?

RL: Doing so much homework in terms of cops and their macab sense of humor that they have, it a way that they are able to keep a distance from some of the brutality of what they have seen. When you watch the show ďCopsĒ or when I rode along with them, you see certain sense of humor, jokes that they have. ďOh my God, thatís sick. What are they laughing at? ď is what I say to myself. I think itís a way for them to keep a distance. When I saw thatís what Jasonís character kind of deduces being the drug addict that he is, thatís probably what my character would find funny.

WM: What's it like to be a producer of a film with your wife?

RL: Well, itís different because you have a lot more say. People had to listen to us. When it came down to the casting, I had very strong opinions about who we should used. Joe and I had to concur, but I definitely had opinions after doing this for so long. This isnít any more or less invested. The hardest part was the fact that we were running out of money. We had to deal with that issue all the time. It was great working with her. Itís nice to see her get her start and to have a passion about something. We both really believe in this movie.

Ray Liotta and Jason Patric in Paramount's Narc - 2002 WM: Why Jason Patric (as far as casting)?

RL: You would have to ask Joe. It was really his call. We had gotten to a couple of other actors and they had said no. When we had brought Jasonís name up the studio wasnít that crazy about that, but he just seemed right. Joe had met with him first and I so much trusted Joe on his instincts about what he wanted that I went with it. Jasonís energy is much more different from mine. Heís much more quiet and internal and it was perfect for the part because my character was all wired up and it was a good counterpart for my guy.

WM: Which location was the most striking for you?

RL: The hardest part was the warehouse. That was a rare chophouse, no heat, and that thing we were shooting. That took us 10 days to do the half-hour of the movie. It was a wind up time.

WM: What surprises you these days?

RL: Nothing. Who would think that you would do an independent movie and then have no money for completion. All of a sudden, all these people come out from the woodwork because they put a couple of dollars and they demanded a producing credit. They now go around town and say that they produced this film when they didnít have shit to do with it. It doesnít surprise me, but itís just unbelievable human nature.

Ray Liotta in Paramount's Narc - 2002WM: Wouldn't you think that's good that the film had numerous producers to get distribution? Even Tom Cruise put his name on it.

RL: Iím not talking about him. He didnít put the money in; it was some of these other jokers. But in terms of that, it was great of Tom to do that. What happen is that Lions Gate came in to be the distributor of the film, but they never gave us a theatrical guarantee. It wasnít until we came to Sundance and saw that people were responding to it that all of a sudden, they started saying ďWeíre definitely going theatricalĒ, but before we never got a guarantee with that. After that, it started going around this circuit in LA of people who have a lot of power were seeing the movie and we were getting calls from a lot of big people. Tom was one of the people who saw it along with his producing partner and he called us up and said anything he could do to help us out, he would love to do that because he really believe in the movie. Paramount then decided to buy the film, and this stuff is great.

WM: What's next after this?

RL: I did a movie right after called ďIdentityĒ with John Cusack that Jim (James) Mangold directed. He directed ďCoplandĒ. Itís a very good scary thriller.