Renny Harlin

Renny Harlin, the director

Shooting a film is never easy, but The Long Kiss Goodnight was extremely fun. I really enjoyed working in Canada. I needed snow and cold weather for this one so I looked at the map and figured out exactly where to go and it worked out great. It was just great fun because I had great people I was working with and Geena and Sam are so fun to work with. Maybe the fun part was to look at Sam and Geena in a frozen lake... swimming there.

The first benefit of working with my wife is that I get to spend so much time with her. Work takes most of your life and when you get to do it with the person you like most in the world then it's a pretty nice situation.

The down side is that I got spoiled. I know the next time when I work with people that I don't know it's going to be different. It's nice to go home with somebody and talk about what you just did and get a back rub at the same time.

Sam will tell you that it's weird to have me standing next to him saying to Geena, "OK, now, put your tongue into his ear." I tried to make it as real as possible.

This was a script that we got our hands on a couple of years ago and immediately felt that this was very different as an action thriller. It provided me with really interesting characters; really interesting relationships; a great dynamic to work with. I tried to make it sort of a post-modern action movie. You know you can't always make the movie perfect for everybody, but you've got to at least try to please yourself.

It was an expensive script, but at the same time New Line had just become part of the Turner organization and there was a business plan for them to make bigger movies. They were actually very relaxed about it. They really didn't visit the sets. They knew me, of course. I had made another movie for them in the past, so they were very comfortable with us and very happy with the film.

Regarding Geena on the water wheel and naked in shower, I think that it's part of these kind of movies. You have the action, you have the humor, you have a little bit of sexiness and I thought she looked strong and convincing and I wanted it to be very clear to the audience that she's a girl with a gun, but when you look at her you realize that though she lost her memory she's still -- She looks the part. You can believe. It was important to see that you can believe that she can physically do this stuff. She's a big, strong woman. A couple of lingering shots on an attractive woman never hurts a movie.

Shane Black is very inventive and I think he has his fingers on the pulse of the time. He's not somebody who follows trends. He creates trends instead of trying to mimic them. The characters he created in this case were very unique and the dialogue he uses is fresh and funny. Look at Lethal Weapon. When that came out, it was very controversial that you had a main character that was suicidal. According to Shane, the studio was very against that when they first saw the script.

We've never had accidents in any of my movies. The biggest accident ever was in Cliffhanger when Sly got a little cut on his hand in a fight sequence. It's just a matter of trying to find the best people in the business to work on these things and planning things very meticulously. It's very important. Sometimes actors can get very excited about the scenes and kind of go off-camera and start doing goofy things. It's very important to make clear that while it seems like it's all fun and games, you've got to be very very careful when you deal with weapons and explosives and helicopters and so on.

We plan these things very carefully and very safely. I have the best possible people helping me with the stunts. It's really up to the actors to overcome their fears and say, "OK, we understand this is safe; it's uncomfortable to hang three stories up and freefall to the ground, but it's safe." In most cases actors are very eager to get involved in this stuff because I think the audience really appreciates it and can really tell when the actors are doing it themselves instead of just the stunt men.

I'm a huge music fan. In some cases we would find music before the scenes were shot and sometimes afterwards. It's a matter of my personal taste and what I think is good for this movie. I wanted this movie in some funny way to have almost a 70s vibe so it has some disco music. One song I have to give credit to to Craig Bierko -- the Santana song. It's something that he suggested. I said, "Oh my God, I forgot that." I listened to it and I realized it's a perfect song for the changeover scene. We actually played that music when Geena was doing that scene.

There's a brand new song from Neneh Cherry in the film. It's called "Woman" and it will be on the sound track album. It's a great song because it goes with the theme of the film so well. It's about women being very strong and very independent.

Patti Labelle sings a song called "Lady Marmalade." I'd like to sing it right now, but -- It's a song in Atlantic City when she comes out of the bathroom and Sam Jackson sees her for the first time in her new look.

I think that if you look at any of the big summer movies and movies in the action genre -- you can't scrutinize every point in the story and every moment and say, "Oh, this wouldn't really happen in real life." You couldn't have a movie like this if you tried to stick to real life. Real life is just not this much fun.

Interviews with: Geena Davis | Samuel L. Jackson | Shane Black

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