Yesterday was Independence Day in the USA but today is Independence Day in Bill Pullman’s presidency. At least it is for the purpose of this list. Kate has already proposed the idea that the whole film was a warning to us but I am here to share some behind-the-scenes information about the soon-to-be documentary film from 1996.
1. Jeff Goldblum, TREASURE OF A PERSON, improvised a lot of his lines in the movie. Apparently, the scenes inside the alien ship alongside Will Smith and interactions with Judd Hirsch, who played Goldblum’s father, showcase this gifted ad-libber.
2. The US military allegedly gave full support to the movie’s production, promising the filmmakers use of actual military installations for scenes. After learning that Area 51 played a role in the film that support was dropped at a speed comparable to John McCain’s name falling out of his daughter’s mouth.
3. As for Area 51, some scenes taking place in the infamous location included footage of the real top secret spot taken by a conspiracy theorist using night vision.
4. Film production was temporarily halted at one point when Unabomber Ted Kaczynski threatened to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. You know you’re a ’90s kid if you understand that entire sentence.
5. The role of Captain Steve Hiller went to Will Smith, obviously. What most people don’t know is that Ethan Hawke, in demand since the 1994 success of Reality Bites, was first offered that role. Hawke apparently threw his copy of the script out the window of a moving car because he hated it so much. After seeing the movie he did have regrets.
6. The role of President Whitmore was written with Kevin Spacey in mind but the studio believed he wasn’t good enough. Bill Pullman was cast as President and killed it while Spacey is a piece of trash that used his eventual fame and clout to allegedly sexually assault and harass others. Movie Studio - 1, Co-Writer Dean Devlin - 0.
7. The El Toro Airbase and the computer that uploads the virus to kill the aliens off are both references to H.G. Welles’s War of the Worlds.
8. The special effects in the movie were mostly achieved using scale models and miniatures. The explosion of the White House was done with a 1/12-scale model and the alien ship first breaking through the clouds of Earth use miniatures as well.
9. Some of the movie’s sets were pre-existing from other well-known films. Nixon and The American President provided the White House while Crimson Tide submarine was, well, the submarine.
10. In order to beat Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! to theaters, writers Devlin and Roland Emmerich hammered out their script in three weeks. They sold it a day later and then took 72 days to film, allowing them to release on July 3, 1996 - six months before Mars Attacks!.