Ray Liotta talks about his new movie

    “”Narc,”” starring Ray Liotta and the fresh-faced Jason Patric, is the epiphany of the recent wave of crime thriller films. Combining the cinematographic brilliance of films like “”Traffic,”” outstanding acting performances from veterans, rookies and rappers (Busta Ryhmes), and an unpredictably dark script, the buzz about “”Narc”” is sure to fill the air during awards season.

    Liotta was able to take a moment to speak with the GUARDIAN while promoting the film. While he often portrays dangerous characters in his films, Liotta proved that image wrong by kindly sharing his humble outlook about “”Narc”” and his own career.

    G: You tend to play somewhat violent roles, or at least take part in a lot of violent projects. What is it that draws you to these types of parts?

    RL: I have done a lot of other roles; people tend to remember the violent roles — it’s easy to get pigeon-holed. I have played a lot of nice guy parts. For example, in “”Narc,”” my character isn’t intrinsically bad; he just got pushed to his limits. I’m a nice guy; I have only been in one fight in my life.

    G: Why do you think that your violent roles are where you do your best work?

    RL: Well, usually the characters are just more complex — a lot of the other roles aren’t as demanding.

    G: How was it working on “”Grand Theft Auto Vice City?””

    RL: It was fun to go into the studio and watch them make the character come to life. I have never really done anything like that before.

    G: Did you know that they have already 160 million in presales?

    RL: Are you kidding? That’s crazy.

    G: You have worked with a pretty seasoned list of actors. Who is out there in Hollywood that you would really like to work with that you haven’t yet?

    RL: I would really like to work with Paul Thomas Anderson. I think that the stuff that he does is great.

    G: What was the off-camera chemistry like between you and Busta Rhymes?

    RL: Busta is a great guy. He was a little tense because this was a more difficult role than he has played before. He has a couple of tasks that are demanding of any actor. For example, at one point he had to tell a story in the movie about something that had never actually been shot.

    G: If they were to make a film about Ray Liotta in his 20s, whom would you cast to play yourself?

    RL: That is an interesting question. That is tough to say. I am not real familiar with a lot of the young actors. When I was young I was really passionate about acting. I did a soap opera for three years. My character on the soap was a great example of a nice guy part that I have played.

    G: This film was released in the heart of awards season. How important is it to you as an actor/producer to see “”Narc”” receive some nominations?

    RL: Obviously that is something I would like to see happen, but I have no expectations — it’s dangerous to count on anything. As an actor, an award is somewhat a matter of self-promotion. There are still a lot of times that I will read for a part and lose out to a guy who is hot at the moment, even though I think I could do the part just as well. An award means that things like that don’t happen as often.

    Ray Liotta doesn’t exactly cover any new ground as an actor in “”Narc.”” Despite this fact, this role is sure to be an exclamation point in his career. He was required to gain nearly 30 pounds for this role, which arguably marks the best performance of his career so far. The film hinges on his performance, and that effectively leaves the viewer questioning if his character was inherently flawed or a victim of time and pressure.

    The film’s dark nature is well-served by its realistic portrayal. The story is told quickly and effectively, setting a new standard for artistic efficiency. At one point during the film a four-way split screen shows different events happening at once for nearly a minute. “”Narc”” has an Oscar-quality feel to it, in that it aspires to win Hollywood’s top prize by being anything but Hollywood.

    While Liotta seemed reluctant to be anything but hopeful about the possibilities for the film, this role should remind the world of his brilliance; scarcely seen since his breakthrough appearance in “”Goodfellas.”” Don’t miss this release — few major films of this quality come to a theatre near you.

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