Joe Carnahan and Frank Grillo are the perfect example of the sort of male bonding that occurs when guys go through an experience that is both dangerous and exhilarating. After making THE GREY in a remote region of British Columbia, they’ve got a bantering rapport and a palpable mutual respect. When I spoke with them on January 9, 2012, I started the conversation asking about the primal fears that the film evokes before moving on to the way the story brought out the primal instincts in Grillo. Before wrapping up with a promise from Carnahan to include Grillo in his next film, KILLING PABLO. they pair discussed the pleasures and perils of making a mid-budget film, why Jason Bateman deserves a two-minute Oscar(tm), and a new way of thinking of a happy ending.
THE GREY is a film that explores the wisdom of fear and the kindness of honesty. What starts with an aborted suicide by John Ottway, a hunter of wolves for an oil refinery, becomes on one level a struggle for survival when the company plane on which he is traveling home crashes in the wastes of an Alaskan winter, and he his fellow survivors are forced to cope with freezing temperatures, no hope of rescue, and a pack of wolves that doesn’t like them there. But on another level, it’s a thoughtful consideration of the difference between being alive and merely existing. Grillo plays Diaz, a trouble-maker who clashes with Ottway in a curious parallel to the way the wolves tracking the crash survivors vie for alpha status in their pack. The film co-stars Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, Ben Bray, and Liam Neeson as Ottway. Carnahan directed from a script he co-wrote with Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, on whose short story. “Ghost Walker”, the film is based. After seeing this film, audiences may want to re-read Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant.