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2012 Director Roland Emmerich Swears He’s Done With Disaster Flicks (Sort Of)

2012 Director Roland Emmerich Swears He’s Done With Disaster Flicks (Sort Of)” width=”560″/>

The German-born master of Earth disasters Roland Emmerich discusses his latest apocalyptic flick, explains how he channeled Arnold Schwarzenegger, and shares his opinion on how the world will really end.

Q: What inspired you to tell a modern Noah’s Ark tale?

A: I was always fascinated by the fact that God doesn’t like what he created and sends a big flood. Why does God have to do that? In a way it’s like the oldest story we have, because every culture in this world has a Noah’s Ark story. So we asked ourselves what a modern Noah’s Ark story would look like. There are two or three questions you have to ask yourself: One is, “How can it be that water covers the Earth?” There’s not enough water. So you have to create a seismic event that makes that conceivable. Second, you have to ask, “Who is Noah and who is God?” And we came to the conclusion that Noah would be like the governments of the world, and God is science.

Q: At what point did you know you’d want it centered around the Mayan calendar?

A: The Mayan calendar came in because I always believe you have to find something out there in the world which people believe in and incorporate this in your movie — it makes it more visceral to people. And I did this in Independence Day too. At one point “Independence Day” was only a working title — we were going to call it Area 51 because the whole movie revolves around that mythology.

Q: You’ve done several disaster movies. What did you want to do differently this time?

A: I didn’t want to do it — I didn’t want to become a joke. But then [writer/producer] Harald Kloser said to me, “I think somebody else will do it. Just imagine what you can do.” So then I decided I would only write it and let somebody else direct it, but then the closer I got to this thing, I said, “This is it.” I don’t know what people think of me, but I’m not that kind of guy who’s like “Ooh, what else could I destroy?” I’m very serious about what I do and how I do it, and I said, “This is probably my last one, so let’s do it right. Let’s do it in a scale never seen before.”

Q: So rumors of an Independence Day 2 are greatly exaggerated?

A: Independence Day is something different. It was a defining moment in my career, and because of that it has a special place for me. Yes, it was about destruction — it’s actually where I discovered destruction was something people really like — but it’s also this old story of a king leading his people into the fight against an evil invader. I never wanted to do another one under Bush, but with Obama, who I totally support, I would love to do another Independence Day. Will Smith is such an Obama kind of figure, so that would work really well for me.

Q: Speaking of politics, there’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike as California’s Governor in 2012. Did you use your own voice for him?

A: No [Laughs]. I was just laughing with Harald about the idea of California sinking into the ocean, and I don’t know who had the idea but we wanted to have the Governor on the TV. So I said, “Do I get Arnold to do this?” Harald said he’d call him — he never called, and then they found some relatively good photo double. When we were voice-dubbing, I was coaching the actor: “Do it better! Arnold doesn’t say it like that!”

Q: Of all your disaster movie scenarios — alien invasion, global warming, sun flares — which do you think is the most likely?

A: I think the most likely is the Day After Tomorrow scenario, that we just destroy ourselves. And I get more and more pessimistic every year. Now I’m pretty much of the opinion that it’s already too late, and we’re doomed. I would love to do a very realistic, futuristic movie about the stage of our world in 30 years — just to show people if we don’t learn, this will happen.

Q: What would that look like?

A: I don’t know yet.

Q: First, you’re adapting Foundation. What made you want to tackle Asimov?

A: Asimov was influenced by reading about the decline of the Roman Empire, and he just threw it in the future. It’s a little bit like the monks in the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages who found a foundation which preserved their knowledge to make the time of barbarism shorter. That’s a very relevant story these days. It’s just for me one of these challenges you give yourself. OK, I want to try myself on a big science fiction saga and see what happens.

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