Jan De Bont retraces Twister, Speed ​​and his unmade Godzilla

Jan De Bont retraces Twister, Speed ​​and his unmade Godzilla

Willem Dafoe, Jan de Bont, Sandra Bullock & Jason Patric (Photo by Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic, Inc)

Willem Dafoe, Jan de Bont, Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric at a press conference for Speed ​​2: cruise control. (Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic, Inc)

Jan De Bont is the cinematographer turned director who has been part of some of the most iconic films of the 1990s, from Primitive instinct And Turtledoves to Speed.

To celebrate the 4K UHD release of the 90s Flatlinerwhich is now available on Arrow Video, we sat down with the legendary Jan de Bont to talk about some of his biggest hits.

“It’s funny because it was an afterthought,” says Jan de Bont, 78, recalling the meme-tastic flying cow scene from the 1996 blockbuster. Turtledoves.

“I thought you should have some relief, give the audience time to breathe.”

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The perplexed faces and witty dialogue of Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton seal the fame of the moment, which was created before broadband and social media, but now regularly pops up on the latter.

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister (Credit: Universal)

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister (Credit: Universal)

It is this mix of dazzling action, practical effects and CGI and ironic humor that perhaps best sums up the career of the Dutch cameraman-turned-director, which began with productions in his native Holland, before he came to Hollywood and built the look of hits like Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October And Lethal weapon 3.

Turtledoves it was his second shift in the director’s chair after the 1994 classic Speed, which became a giant hit out of thin air. “Keanu [Reeves] never pulls out Speed”Says de Bont. “He didn’t want to be that movie, he wanted to be seen as a serious theatrical actor.”

Read more: Keanu Reeves admits he has a crush on Sandra Bullock

In fact, Reeves had to be persuaded to do some of the film’s stunts himself, mostly by de Bont doing them first to prove he wasn’t that dangerous.

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed ​​(Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed ​​(20th Century Fox)

“You have total control whether you are afraid or not,” says the director. He fulfilled his contract by doing the disappointing sequel without Keanu, but he was already more interested in doing other things.

He worked for some time on a Hollywood girl Godzilla, but was eventually dropped from the project when Roland Emmerich took an interest in doing it. The de Bont version sounds a lot funnier than the one that was released in 1998.

“I really wanted to do GodzillaI wanted it so badly, “he says.” I loved the way it was in Japan. I love that it wasn’t that perfect.

Godzilla rages in the 1998 blockbuster. (Tristella)

Godzilla rages in the 1998 blockbuster. (Tristella)

Emmerich’s film became a rainy CGI festival, but de Bont’s creature would have been a little more handcrafted.

“He was a boy in a suit!” he reveals. “He was great. The movements, there was something human about it. The guy in the suit was sweating like a pig and said he was losing two pounds every minute because he weighed 125 pounds and it was rubber … he said he could only take one take at a time.

Read more: The 1998 Godzilla writer reveals what went wrong

He continues: “We had a really good script and everyone loved it. [But] the reason they got rid of me is because they said my budget was higher than Roland Emmerich. I said it is impossible because they will use the same effects as the people I use and they will charge exactly the same. Since the boy was wearing the suit, his movements were very different from what a dinosaur would do and that was very interesting to me. “

ATLANTA MAY 10: Woody Harrelson, Helen Hunt, Jane Fonda, Bill Paxton and Jan De Bont attend the premiere of Twister Benefiting G-CAPP at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia on May 10, 1996 (Photo by Rick Diamond / Getty Images

Woody Harrelson, Helen Hunt, Jane Fonda, Bill Paxton and Jan De Bont attend the premiere of Twister, 1996 (Rick Diamond / Getty Images

Being dropped by Godzilla it meant he was able to do Turtledoves however, coming to the project in the wake of successful directors such as Steven Spielberg and James Cameron.

“Initially, it was a question of whether the film was going to be made,” he says.

He argued that he would only do it if they could combine the effects on the computer with the real ones in the camera, like this Jurassic Park he had done it brilliantly with Stan Winston’s animatronic velociraptors.

“We had these giant jet engines on tractor trailers. We needed a lot of wind to make it work, ”she recalls. “I couldn’t hear a word. [The actors] they all had little earphones that you couldn’t see just to figure out what was going to happen. They were hit with debris. We’ve always had flying debris in every scene and some actors don’t like it at all. Their hair is completely tousled and the wood sticking out.

Jan De Bont (center) gives direction to Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt on the set of Twister.  (Warner Bros.)

Jan De Bont (center) gives direction to Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt on the set of Twister. (Warner Bros.)

One actor who didn’t mind looking a little disheveled was the late late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who made a first movie appearance as one of the wind chasers.

Read more: Twister remake in development

“We still had to pick that part, we couldn’t find anyone,” says de Bont. “Eventually, the casting director said, ‘I think I have one, but I don’t know if he wants to do it. You have to meet him. ‘ He came into the room, really sloppy, disheveled and totally disinterested … then I talked to him and told him he was a really important part of keeping the team together.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Phil Parma in

Philip Seymour Hoffman also played the role of Phil Parma in Magnolia. (Peter Sorel / New Line)

Hoffman auditioned with a scene where he sings for his team in the truck and the director ended up giving his character Dustin the same clothes the actor wore for the audition (“because the way he was dressed It was very fun).

Of course, Hoffman wasn’t the first actor de Bont had photographed as they blossomed into stardom. In 1990 it was directed by Joel Schumacher Flatliner – a film also starring Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Baldwin and Kevin Bacon – the then director of photography was there to witness Julia Roberts transform from a regular actor to one of the most famous women on the planet following the release of Pretty Woman.

(LR) Flatliners played Julia Roberts, Billy Baldwin, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon.  (Video arrow)

(LR) Flatliner portrayed by Julia Roberts, Billy Baldwin, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon. (Video arrow)

“You can somehow understand why this is happening,” he says. “I always operate [the camera] also because if you don’t operate you have no idea what the hell is going on. When I looked at Julia’s face, I could see it was all in her eyes. This is the thing that makes her really famous. Every little emotion in her is immediately visible in her eyes.

In subsequent years, there has been an anodyne remake of Flatliners, but the original, which follows a group of friends who kill each other for a few minutes to see if there’s a life in the afterlife, still holds up well, both as a fun watch, but also for its cultural moment location adjacent to Brat Pack.

Flatliner (arrow video)

Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon act Flatliner. (Video arrow)

“Joel said [he] he wanted to film it as an action movie, ”says de Bont. “If you make it too extreme, you get eliminated from the film very quickly. Kiefer[‘s character] it’s slightly more aggressive, so it’s more like handheld camera work, getting very close and with Julia, it’s a little more distant, a longer lens … Kevin is slightly more realistic … not very sure what can happen and why you should risk your life. “

Almost everything has been done practically, de Bont admits. “The moment when you [shoot against a green screen], immediately remove the actor from reality. Any actor in front of a green screen cannot act. “

“Besides,” he laughs, “we didn’t have the money!”

Flatliner is now available on 4K UHD from Arrow Video.

Watch: How Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric reconciled after the love triangle

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