Roland Emmerich: Post Apocalypse
BY Ari Karpel
October 21 2011 4:00 AM ET
“That got out of hand,” says the filmmaker, leaning forward on his living room couch to take another sip of an espresso. “Four or five years ago I kind of proposed to Bryan that it should be no more than 400 [people]. You know what Bryan said? ‘You want to make it that exclusive?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But then I kind of realized when [Singer] makes a New Year’s party there’s like 600, 700 twinks running around and he’s hiding in his room. That’s quite typical.”
Emmerich estimates that the last party they hosted, in 2009, drew 1,200 guests. “I didn’t know anybody anymore because all my friends said, ‘Oh, fuck it, I’m leaving.’ I said, ‘No more. This is becoming a circuit party.’ ” Indeed, photos on gay blogs make the whole thing look like the prelude to an orgy, but Emmerich insists that whatever happened, he didn’t partake. “We had security, and I said, ‘I’m going to bed now. Just throw them all out.’ ”
Emmerich seems to have more highbrow gay pursuits in mind now. Asked to name his favorite gay movie of the past 10 years, he doesn’t hesitate: A Single Man, Tom Ford’s 2009 adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s classic gay novel. “It’s something like that I could see myself doing too. Totally underappreciated film. I think Colin Firth should have won the Oscar.”
The filmmaker has yet to find his gay project. But, he says, “Now I’m pretty soon turning 56 and saying, ‘Where is my gay film? I’m really looking for it.’ ”
Still, he does not foresee a day when a big-budget disaster movie will have a gay protagonist. “I don’t think this will work because if you have four quadrants, I would say 15% of the audience are gay,” he says, referring to the industry practice of breaking down the audience into four big chunks — parents, kids, men, and women. The big-budget disaster genre is one of the few that appeals to all four, almost guaranteeing huge crowds and box office revenue.
In other words, no studio will mess with that potential by making a gay character the lead. Emmerich understands that.
“I think these movies work a lot about identification, that you kind of feel like you’re that person. A gay person can feel like being Jake Gyllenhaal or something even though he’s not gay.”
That’s because he’s so hot, right? “Because he’s hot. Exactly,” confirms Emmerich. “A lot happens like that in a lot of films. If a good-looking actor exposes his body and he looks super-hot, then the girls shriek and the gays shriek.” But the assumption is that a straight audience is less inclined to identify with a gay character.
He has made a point of casting openly gay actors in some smaller roles. Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game) played the evil sun god Ra in Stargate, and Harvey Fierstein was essentially the gay comic relief in Independence Day, a role about which Emmerich now expresses regret. “I don’t feel very good about it,” he says. “There [were] criticisms from the gays, and they’re right. Why do we always have to be the funny dudes?”