This is an excerpt from an interview Geoff Pevere and Richard did on Reel to Real with director David Cronenberg. It was trabscribed by”Ashley” on Row Three.com:
Richard Crouse: You know there’s a long list of films, and it’s interesting to hear you talk about how A History of Violence could have been probably a much different film if it had been made by an American. There’s a long list of films that you’ve said no to, that I’ve read about.
Geoff Pevere: How different a film Flashdance might have been.
Richard Crouse: Absolutely.
David Cronenerg: It would have been a failure!
Richard Crouse: Geoff and I were talking about this earlier, Geoff said someone quoted to you the idea that there would have been a whole alternate world of blockbusters had you directed Top Gun, and Flashdance, and Beverly Hills Cop, and some of the other films you were offered and said no to. You’d probably get offered many many things.
David Cronenberg: Well, Witness was one of those, and it actually was the first movie that Viggo Mortensen was in.
Richard Crouse: That’s right.
Geoff Pevere: Oh, that’s right.
David Cronenberg: He played an Amish.
Geoff Pevere: One of the Star Wars movies too. Weren’t you offered one of those?
David Cronenberg: Uh, yes. Yes, I was. I got a phone call from somebody from Lucas Film, and they said “we’re thinking of you for doing this third Star Wars movie.” I guess it was Return of the Jedi, and I said “well, I’m not used to doing other people’s material.” And I think there was a hang-up after that. I think they were looking for unbridled excitement, and instead they got hesitation, and that was it. Anyway, you have to know what to turn down. Those movies wouldn’t have been hits if I had done them. I would have somehow screwed them up because what they needed was that full on … I mean I certainly remember very definitely why I turned Witness down, because I could see the structure of that movie demanded that you sort of idealize the Amish. And to me they were a very repressive, sort of cultish group that I didn’t have much affection for, and I knew that I couldn’t do that kind of idealizing that the script required, because that was paradise, and life in the big city was “bad.” And I just didn’t believe it. So that was as it often is with me, a philosophical problem. People think because I’ve done horror films, they send me things like Constantine, with demons and stuff. And I say “I don’t do devils. I don’t do the Devil. I don’t do demons. I don’t do angels. I don’t do ghosts. I really don’t. And that’s because it’s a philosophical question. All of those things presuppose an afterlife, which I don’t believe in. And therefore I don’t, even metaphorically – I mean, I suppose if there were an approach were you could really say all of those things were metaphors for something else, then maybe it would work – but mostly it’s not. I can watch The Exorcist and see why it’s effective, and enjoy it. But I couldn’t make it.
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