You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Roland Emmerich Waited to Make ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ Until VFX Could Match His Vision

Twenty years have passed since Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” blasted into the zeitgeist with the image of the White House being obliterated by an alien spaceship. June 24 will mark the release of the sequel, “Resurgence” — a first for the director — and a reunion with frequent collaborator Dean Devlin, who co-wrote and produced the original.

The duo previously tried to develop a follow-up to the 1996 action pic several times, and even wrote a script back in 2002. “We were paid for it, and then we gave the check back because we thought it was just not good enough,” Emmerich admits.

The project lay dormant until after Emmerich made “2012” and felt confident that the digital effects could match his imagination. He brought in two younger writers, Nicolas Wright and James A. Woods, to help transition between the returning characters and newcomers.

“It was interesting to explore a generation that grew up in the shadow of what we call ‘the Great War,’ that these were people who lost their families; who never knew a time when there wasn’t an alien threat possible,” Devlin says of the younger cast — including Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe and Jessie Usher.

“Resurgence” takes place 20 years after the first film, which saw half the Earth’s population wiped out. Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson, who helped save the day in the original, is now the director of the Earth Space Defense program, tasked with preventing another alien attack. “I work with the best and the smartest people to figure out who they were; if they’re coming back; what they’re up to; why really they were here and who we are in the whole tapestry of the universe,” he says of David’s new role.

Meanwhile, Earth’s leader during the War of 1996, former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is a shell of his former self, suffering from “Alien Residual Condition” after his close encounters in the first film.

Pullman had some trepidation about returning to the role that gave him one of cinema’s most iconic presidential speeches. “I’m the kind of person who’s loyal, and the first movie was such a good experience that I was a little worried that I’d have to accept something that didn’t really excite me just out of loyalty,” he says. “But it genuinely felt like a part that was different than the first one given the set of circumstances … he starts [‘Resurgence’] as somewhat of a recluse.”

While both actors appreciated the plot, the real selling point was the chance to reunite with Emmerich.

“I love Roland so much and I love working with him,” Goldblum says. “He’s an eighth degree black belt master in storytelling. He’s terrifically prepared and wildly conscientious. … He loves actors and then he likes to collaborate with them and create an atmosphere of trust and playfulness and improvisation.”

Pullman agrees, “He has such amazing adrenaline that goes through his system. It’s almost like a waterfall. You stand next to it, you get charged up.”

Collaborators Sing Helmer’s Praises

One word that frequently pops up when discussing Roland Emmerich is “fun.” When discussing the director’s attitude on set, his colleagues are quick to praise his enthusiasm, attention to detail, and collaborative nature.

Jeff Goldblum – “He’s terrifically prepared and wildly conscientious. He’s a force of nature. He’s an amazing, freakishly powerful, creative force, but then he’s fun,” says Goldblum. “He loves actors and then he likes to collaborate with them and create an atmosphere of trust and playfulness and improvisation.”

Dean Devlin – Producer Devlin, Emmerich’s creative partner on “Stargate” and “Independence Day,” notes that Emmerich’s positivity has stayed consistent throughout their 27-year working relationship. “This is a business that becomes more of a business all the time, and many people believe that unpleasant experiences make for good movies, and Roland’s not one of those guys,” he says. “Working with Roland is fun, because his passion becomes infectious, and then everybody has it, and it’s a really unique experience.”

Bill Pullman – In keeping with “Independence Day’s” theme, Pullman jokes that Emmerich is “a little bit of alien hybridization” too. “Maybe it’s his Germanic side, which is about his precision and his visual aesthetic, married to him always being kind of a teenage boy,” he laughs. “I love it most on set when he’s describing what you’re seeing — he always says, ‘and then this comes, and it’s really cool.’ Just the way he says ‘cool,’ it means a lot more than anybody else saying it.”

More Film

  • Bill Hader Barry

    WGA Awards 2019: Announcing Winners Live

    The 71st annual Writers Guild Awards are underway at dual ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. and at the Edison Ballroom in New York City. Chelsea Peretti hosted the West Coast ceremonies while Roy Wood Jr. was the emcee in New York Original screenplay nominees are Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”; Adam McKay’s [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content