Joe Carnahan

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Joe Carnahan
Carnahan at the A-Team film premiere
Joseph Aaron Carnahan

(1969-05-09) May 9, 1969 (age 54)
Michigan, United States
Alma materSacramento State University
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1995–present
  • Christy Leis
  • Lisa Carnahan
RelativesMatthew Michael Carnahan (brother)

Joseph Aaron Carnahan (born May 9, 1969) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer and actor whose films include Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane;[1] Narc; Smokin' Aces; The A-Team; The Grey; and Boss Level. 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.

Early life[edit]

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 career[edit]

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 produced 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 April 2022, Lionsgate Films revealed that Carnahan will direct Shadow Force, starring Kerry Washington and Omar Sy.[11]

In June 2023, Carnahan is filming an adaptation of the non-fictional book, Not Without Hope by Nick Schuyler and Jeré Longman, a survival thriller starring Zachary Levi and Josh Duhamel.

Personal life[edit]

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



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1995 Karate Raider No Yes No
1998 Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane Yes Yes Yes Also editor and actor; role: Sid French
2002 Narc Yes Yes No
2006 Smokin' Aces Yes Yes No
2008 Pride and Glory No Yes No
2010 The A-Team Yes Yes No Role: Mike 'The Operator' (credited as "Bo Anzo")
2011 The Grey Yes Yes Yes
2014 Stretch Yes Yes Yes Direct-to-video
2018 Death Wish No Yes No
El Chicano No Yes Yes Role: Federal #1
2020 Bad Boys for Life No Yes No
Boss Level Yes Yes Yes Also actor; role: guy in diner (Uncredited)
2021 Copshop Yes Yes Yes
TBA Shadow Force Yes Yes No Post-production
Not Without Hope Yes Yes Yes Post-production[13]

Producer only

Associate producer

  • The Devil Takes a Holiday (1996)

Executive producer

Short films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1998 Taco Heaven No Yes No
2000 Nail in My Coffin No No No Editor
2002 Ticker Yes Yes No Segment from the BMW short film series The Hire
2003 Boyz Up Unauthorized No No Executive
2009 Susannah No No Yes
2011 The Devil's Dosh No No Executive


Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
2006 Faceless Yes Yes No Unsold TV pilot
2013 Dino and Dash No Executive No Television film
The Blacklist Yes No Yes
2014 Those Who Kill Yes No No
State of Affairs Yes Yes Yes

Frequent collaborators[edit]

Collaborator Narc Smokin' Aces The A-Team The Grey Stretch Boss Level Copshop Total
Roger Barton Yes Yes 2
Brian Bloom Yes Yes 2
James Badge Dale Yes Yes 2
Mauro Fiore Yes Yes 2
Frank Grillo Yes Yes Yes 3
Christopher Michael Holley Yes Yes 2
Quinton Jackson Yes Yes 2
Ray Liotta Yes Yes Yes 3
Liam Neeson Yes Yes 2
Chris Pine Yes Yes 2
Ridley Scott Yes Yes 2
Maury Sterling Yes Yes 2
Patrick Wilson Yes Yes 2


  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. Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. 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 2012-07-11.
  8. ^ Carnahan, Joe (December 29, 2012). "Joe Carnahan Teases His Adaptation Of Mark Millar's NEMESIS". Twitter. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (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. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (April 8, 2022). "Omar Sy & Kerry Washington Set To Star In Lionsgate Action-Thriller 'Shadow Force'; Joe Carnahan Directing". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  12. ^ "About". Represent.Us. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Lang, Brent (15 June 2023). "Josh Duhamel Joins Joe Carnahan's Survival Thriller 'Not Without Hope' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 31 August 2023.

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