Roland Emmerich: Post Apocalypse
BY Ari Karpel
October 21 2011 4:00 AM ET
Emmerich faced a completely different kind of challenge in making Anonymous. Though his success rate and his Hollywood relationships paved the way for Emmerich to be able to make this movie, he was constrained by budgetary restrictions. Since it’s no four-quadrant film, he had to make it for less than $30 million, roughly one sixth of the reported $200 million budget for 2012. His initial proposed budget landed around $60 million, but he realized that instead of shooting in England, as he had planned, he would make do with cheaper soundstages in Berlin and “construct” the sets digitally, using computer graphics, as he did for 2012.
And then there was the casting. He wanted only English actors, and he had his heart set on Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson to play older and younger versions of Queen Elizabeth I. The director had worked with Richardson on The Patriot. “I talked to her first,” he says. Richardson told him that her mother had always wanted to play Queen Elizabeth, but she would have to love the script.
So Richardson spoke with her mother, and luckily Redgrave approved. Filming was a whole new experience for both the director and the legendary (and famously political) actress. Redgrave, Emmerich says, was constantly smoking when the cameras weren’t rolling.
“So she is in this big kind of queen outfit smoking a cigarette and [the costume people are] trying to stuff some tissue so that it doesn’t ash on her clothes,” he says. Meanwhile, she was constantly discussing hot political topics like Iraq and Guantanamo. Redgrave had to adjust to the unusually digitized nature of this particular costume drama, as she doesn’t often act in front of a blue screen. “She seemed a little bit weirded out by it at first, but then it seemed fine.”
Likewise, critics might be a little bit weirded out by the thought of Roland Emmerich making a historical drama in which the only disaster that occurs is the burning of the Globe Theatre — an incident that is not quite historically accurate. But he hopes they’ll come around, particularly because he has plenty of other ideas.
“I always wanted to make a movie about Tutankhamen. King Tut,” he says. “That could be great.” No doubt Emmerich can find something in ancient Egypt to blow up.