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That Time Ray Liotta Got ‘Argumentative’ With Tom Cruise To Help Make One Of The Gems In His Filmography

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)