Director on Brendan Fraser, Dwayne Johnson, Reboot

The Mummy director is unwrapping his recollections of the favored motion movie that starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz because it hits its twenty fifth anniversary.

Universal Pictures launched the film Might 7, 1999, and it collected $409 million on the international field workplace ($767 million right now) and spawned two sequels, together with the 2002 Dwayne Johnson-led spinoff The Scorpion King. Fraser, who was beforehand identified for main Encino Man (1992) and George of the Jungle (1997), starred in The Mummy as explorer Rick O’Connell, whereas the venture marked a breakout half for Weisz as romantic lead Evelyn Carnahan, with the 2 characters battling the mummified corpse of an Egyptian priest.

In a dialog with The Hollywood Reporter, director Stephen Sommers remembers Fraser’s well being scare throughout a stunt mishap, the trouble to solid James Earl Jones, the Tremendous Bowl spot that modified the film’s destiny, why he skipped the third film and his emotions in regards to the Tom Cruise-led reboot, launched in 2017.

Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser in The Mummy.

Courtesy of Everett

How does it really feel to hit 25 years of The Mummy?

It’s so humorous the way it simply by no means went away. It’s all the time on TV someplace. And I do know, particularly as a result of the residual checks are nice. I hate to say it, however one way or the other it’s endeared itself to lots of people.

How did you become involved with the movie?

After I was 8 years outdated, I first noticed the Boris Karloff Mummy film [from 1932], and I beloved it. Common had been attempting to remake the Karloff film for 9 years after I received on, and it was going to be a low-budget horror film set in modern-day. I had my brokers name the producers Jim Jacks and Sean Daniel, they usually had been so sick of The Mummy that they didn’t even hear my pitch and simply introduced me straight into Common. After we left, Sean — who’s the nice cop of the pair — turned to me and mentioned, “Steve, I believed you probably did an excellent job.” He patted me on the shoulder, and I feel they thought they’d by no means see me once more. However I received dwelling about an hour later, and an agent known as me up and mentioned, “The studio desires to go for it.”

Did you could have any actors in thoughts when you had been writing it?

I by no means do. My editor Bobby [Ducsay] is my major critic, and even earlier than I completed the script, Bob was like, “Oh, that is Brendan Fraser.” I don’t suppose I’d even seen George of the Jungle at that time. We knew that the hero needed to be a troublesome man however with a coronary heart. Lately, I learn an article saying that we went out to Tom Cruise after which Brad Pitt. I’m like, “No, we solely went to Brendan.” Brendan beloved it immediately. The studio had an inventory of actresses like Ashley Judd and different younger American actresses. I mentioned, “They’re all American. She needs to be English.” So Rachel was the gal, and off we went.

On the Amazon rental model of the film, there’s a trivia pop-up claiming that Sylvester Stallone was initially supplied the function.

You’ve received to be kidding. (Laughs.) Within the ’90s, Stallone was an enormous star. Earlier than I received on it, the studio was attempting to do it for $15 million. I assure you, nobody went out to Stallone. He was by no means talked about to me.

Does the rest stand out from the casting course of?

After I wrote the character of Ardeth Bay, I used to be attempting to get James Earl Jones or Roscoe Lee Browne. He was written as a 70-year-old Black man, however I’m all the time up for altering issues. After James and Roscoe had been busy with different initiatives, they introduced on this 23-year-old Israeli man, Oded Fehr, and he was improbable.

How did your staff take care of the warmth?

It was fairly harsh, but it surely’s a dry warmth. We’d all the time get hit by sandstorms, however they’re not hurricanes or something like that. The ADs would run round and provides all people earplugs and goggles. You couldn’t see six inches in entrance of your face, however it will solely final perhaps 10 minutes.

Director Stephen Sommers on the set of The Mummy.

Courtesy of Everett

I imagine Brendan has talked about taking B12 photographs within the butt in the course of the shoot.

Love the B12 photographs. Brendan actually put his physique on the market. On the second, when he’s operating from all of the pygmy mummies, I may see Brendan limping.

Brendan has talked about doing a few of his personal stunts, throughout which he endured some bumps and scrapes.

We had a terrific stunt staff, however Brendan is an enormous, powerful man, and he was youthful again then. We form of beat the crap out of him. Everyone talks in regards to the scene when he will get hung. Often when someone will get hung, it’s a dummy, and that’s why they put baggage over folks’s heads. Brendan was all the time gung-ho, and he was like, “Make the noose actually tight on me.” Then he determined to let his knees sag slightly bit. However what he forgot is that the minute you place that a lot strain in your carotid arteries, it knocks you out. All of us appeared, and he’s fully unconscious. It was positive, and he recovered in 10 seconds. However he wakened like, “What occurred?”

Did you could have a way when you had been making the movie that it will be such successful?

We had no concept. I bear in mind round Christmastime within the modifying room, going, “For 40 years, folks have been making enjoyable of The Mummy.” I instantly had a panic assault. I’m considering, “I really like mummies and historic Egypt, however perhaps nobody else will.” After which the 30-second Tremendous Bowl spot got here out. It went from no one having any curiosity in seeing a Mummy film to all people like, “Holy shit. That was actually cool.”

What do you bear in mind in regards to the opening weekend?

I didn’t wish to get too excited and was considering, “If it may perhaps open to $20 million, that will be enormous.” A producer pal of mine mentioned, “If it does $15 million, you need to be over the moon.” At 6:30 on Saturday morning, my cellphone rings within the kitchen, and nobody calls you at 6:30 within the morning on a Saturday to inform you unhealthy information. It was [then Universal president] Ron Meyer: “Steve, are you sitting down? The film’s going to open to $45 million.” That was an enormous excessive. That night time, a complete bunch of the actors, a number of the crew and myself, all of us met for steaks at Dan Tana’s.

You went on to direct 2001’s The Mummy Returns. Did you think about directing the third film that got here out in 2008?

I didn’t wish to do the third film as a result of I simply felt like the primary two actually got here collectively. I’m actually happy with each of them. Third ones are simply very exhausting. So I knew proper off, I didn’t wish to direct it, and Rachel wasn’t going to be in it. We all the time form of joke that the third one known as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, but it surely actually doesn’t have a mummy in it. That’s when NBC purchased Common, and NBC was doing the Olympics in China. They’re like, “Is there any means you possibly can do a Mummy film in China?” And I had nothing to do with the Tom Cruise one, clearly.

Had been you consulted for the Tom Cruise movie?

No. Really, I used to be form of insulted as a result of the writers and director [Alex Kurtzman] of that Tom Cruise one, nobody ever contacted me. I contact folks if I used to be going to take over someone’s factor. The third one, which Rob [Cohen] directed, it’s form of my child. I didn’t wish to step on his toes, so I helped produce it. However I had nothing to do with the Tom Cruise one. They by no means contacted me or known as me. I used to be doing different issues, and it’s not like I sat crying. I simply suppose it’s widespread courtesy.

Brendan has talked about that he could be recreation to reprise his function. Has there been any discuss of that?

Not that I do know. All of the folks at Common are new after I left. I don’t actually know them, they usually haven’t received a maintain of me, so I don’t know what’s of their heads. On the identical time, it must be one thing actually particular. After all, I’d work with all of these actors once more.

With The Mummy Returns, you helped make The Rock a star.

He was nice. I had by no means heard of the man, however then they despatched me some footage of him, and he was simply good. I needed to shoot so quick with him as a result of he flew into Marrakesh on Wednesday, and he needed to be in Detroit for a WWE factor on Saturday. However boy, was he a trooper. As quickly because the studio noticed the dailies, the president of Common was calling me up and saying, “You bought to jot down a film for him.” One way or the other over the following week or so, I got here up with this concept that turned the Scorpion King film.

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