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Joseph Aaron Carnahan (born May 9, 1969) is an American independent film director, screenwriter, producer and actor best known for his films Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane,[1] Narc, Smokin' Aces, The A-Team, and The Grey. He also wrote and directed several episodes for the NBC television series The Blacklist. He is the brother of screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan and producer Leah Carnahan.

Joe Carnahan
Joe Carnahan (4920110734) (cropped).jpg
Carnahan at the A-Team film premiere
Joseph Aaron Carnahan

(1969-05-09) May 9, 1969 (age 50)
Michigan, United States
Alma materSacramento State University
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1995-present
Spouse(s)Christy Leis
Lisa Carnahan
RelativesMatthew Michael Carnahan (brother)

Early lifeEdit

Carnahan was raised in Michigan and Northern California. Carnahan graduated from Fairfield High School in 1987 where he also played football.[citation needed] He attended college at San Francisco State University[citation needed] but later transferred to California State University, Sacramento, and earned his B.A. in Filmography there.[2] Carnahan eventually became employed in the Promotional Department of Sacramento's KMAX-TV, producing short films and television spots.[3]

Film careerEdit

In 1998 he won some cult and critical acclaim for his film Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane which premiered in September 1997 at the New York Independent Feature Film Market and later at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.

He directed the 2002 Detroit-set thriller Narc, starring Ray Liotta and Jason Patric. Following Narc, he directed an entry in the BMW Films titled Ticker starring Clive Owen and Don Cheadle. At one point he was solicited to direct Mission: Impossible III, produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner (who also executive produced Narc), however he subsequently left the production due to conflicting views on the tone of the film. It was also announced in October 2005 Carnahan would be directing a film based on the life of convicted drug dealer Will Wright, but the project seems to be abandoned.

His next film, Smokin' Aces, was produced in 2006 and released in January 2007. He also co-wrote the screenplay of Pride and Glory, released in 2008 nearly a year behind schedule.

He was attached to direct an adaptation of James Ellroy's novel White Jazz with George Clooney producing and starring, but Clooney later pulled out from the production and in 2009, Ellroy stated that all adaptations of the film were dead.[4]

In 2007, Carnahan penned Remarkable Fellows for Universal with Jason Bateman set to star,[5] but the film never went into production.

In 2010, Brian Bloom and Carnahan were then hired by Fox for the revamping of their long-gestating A-Team project, based on the hit '80's television series. He also showed interest in directing film adaptations for Garth Ennis' graphic novel Preacher and David Michelinie's Taskmaster.[6]

In 2011, he directed the thriller The Grey, starring Liam Neeson.[7]

Carnahan was one of the executive producers for NBC's The Blacklist, starring James Spader and Megan Boone, during its first season. He directed the pilot, and went on to co-write and direct the ninth episode, "Anslo Garrick". Carnahan also wrote the story for episode 16, "Mako Tanida".

He is currently writing the script for the film adaptation of the Mark Millar comic book series Nemesis with his brother Matthew and will be directing.[8][9] He is also set to direct Mark Bowden's book Killing Pablo.[10]

Carnahan executive produces the NBC political thriller State of Affairs, starring Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard, which premiered November 17, 2014. He directed and co-wrote the pilot.

In February 2017, XYZ Films revealed that Carnahan will produce and direct the remake of The Raid, starring Frank Grillo, with Evans as a producer.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Carnahan serves on the Creative Council of Represent.Us, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization.[12]



Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1995 Karate Rider Yes
1998 Taco Heaven Yes Short film
Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane Yes Yes Yes Also editor and actor;
Role: Sid French
2000 Nail in My Coffin Editor;
Short film
2002 Narc Yes Yes
Ticker Yes Yes Segment from the BMW short film series The Hire
2003 Boyz Up Unauthorized Executive Short film
2006 Smokin' Aces Yes Yes
2008 Pride and Glory Yes
2009 Susannah Yes Short film
The Fourth Kind Yes
2010 Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball Executive Yes
The A-Team Yes Yes Yes Role: Mike 'The Operator';
credited as: Bo Anzo
2011 The Devil's Dosh Executive Short film
The Grey Yes Yes Yes
2014 Stretch Yes Yes Direct-to-video
2018 Death Wish Yes
2019 Boss Level Yes Yes Yes
El Chicano Yes Yes
2020 Bad Boys for Life Yes


Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
2006 Faceless Yes Yes Television film
2013 Dino and Dash Executive Television film
The Blacklist Yes Yes
2014 Those Who Kill Yes
State of Affairs Yes Yes Yes Also series creator

Frequent collaboratorsEdit

Collaborator Narc
Smokin' Aces
The A-Team
The Grey
Ray Liotta  Y  Y  Y
Chris Pine  Y  Y
Liam Neeson  Y  Y
Patrick Wilson  Y  Y
James Badge Dale  Y  Y


  1. ^ Holden, Stephen (April 9, 1999). "'Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane': Don't Buy a Used Car From Either of Them". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "CSU Alumni: Entertainment & Media – JOE CARNAHAN". California State University. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
    • a "CSU Sacramento, B.A. Film Studies (1994)."
  3. ^ "Sacramento's Joe Carnahan and Liam Neeson Tomorrow!". Good Day Sacramento. January 26, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
    • a "...(who started right here at Good Day Sacramento,)." — ¶ 1.
  4. ^ Conley, Stephen (September 21, 2009). "James Ellroy". The Cult. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  5. ^ Fleming, Michael (May 16, 2007). "Universal buys 'Remarkable' pitch". Variety. Retrieved May 16, 2007.
  6. ^ Marnell, Blair (June 6, 2010). "'A-Team' Director Wants 'Taskmaster' And 'Preacher' Movies". MTV. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  7. ^ "Joe Carnahan Talks 'A-Team' DVD And Sequel, Says 'The Grey' Will Be 'Jaws-Like'". Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Carnahan, Joe (December 29, 2012). "Joe Carnahan Teases His Adaptation Of Mark Millar's NEMESIS". Twitter. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  9. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (October 4, 2013). "Mark Millar Raving Over Carnahan Clan Adaptation Of 'Nemesis'". Deadline. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  10. ^ Chitwood, Adam (April 11, 2012). "Director Joe Carnahan Talks Mark Millar's NEMESIS and KILLING PABLO". Collider. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  11. ^ Chitwood, Adam (February 15, 2017). "Joe Carnahan and Frank Grillo Are Tackling 'The Raid' Remake". Collider.
  12. ^ "About". Represent.Us. Retrieved November 1, 2016.

External linksEdit