Most of the tributes for Ray Liotta, who passed away this week at 67, were centered around his performance Goodfellas. Rightly so: it’s one of the greatest (and most rewatchable) movies of all-time. But there are other gems in Liotta’s filmography, including Something Wild, Killing Them Softly, and Narc. The 2002 cop thriller got him an Independent Spirit Award nomination — and the chance to “have a go” at Tom Cruise.
Narc was financed by Cruise/Wagner Productions, Tom Cruise and his agent Paula Wagner’s production company, but it took a risky gamble to get that money. “Tom Cruise wanted to have dinner with us,” writer and director Joe Carnahan told Rolling Stone. “So we go to Giorgio’s [in Los Angeles], and the thing about Ray is, he wasn’t like a tequila guy. His drink of choice was Chablis [wine] and crushed ice. That was his jam.”
As Liotta is getting tipsy, “he decides he’s gonna have a go at Tom. He wants to get argumentative with the biggest movie star in the world,” Carnahan said. Cruise/Wagner Productions was coming off the success of Mission: Impossible 2 and The Others, but Liotta told Cruise, “C’mon, Tom, let’s cut to it. You guys are not necessarily doing that great as a company… You need a movie like this.” Carnahan continued:
“Ray’s whole thing is basically: ‘YOU need Narc, we don’t need you.’ We leave, and I’m just apoplectic, like ‘What in the f*ck are you doing going after Tom Cruise?! He’s Tom Cruise!’ And Ray says, ‘We got the hot movie! C’mon!… I’m testing him. I want to see if he’s up to it!”
He was up for it: Cruise/Wagner acquired the rights to Narc, and the “Sundance darling,” as Carnahan called it, received a wide release and doubled its budget. The lesson here is: Ray Liotta was more daring than you or I will ever be. And much, much cooler.
(Via Rolling Stone)