Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. What were the origins of this project?
Emmerich: Three years ago, I read a book called The Coming
of the Global Superstorm, and, at the time, I thought it would
make for a great movie. We did a lot of research and realised
that as fantastic as it may sound, this is really a scenario which
And the amazing thing about it is that it starts with these extreme
weather situations all over the world, and while we were shooting
the movie, a lot of these events started to happen.
Gordon: Roland said that if we didnt hurry up and
release the picture wed be making a documentary!
Q. For a big, effects-driven movie, there is strong acting
talent involved. Where do Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal fit
into it all?
Emmerich: Well, the movie is basically about a father [Quaid]
who has problems with his son, who lives with his ex-wife. He
feels like he hasnt spent enough time with him. Hes
a scientist, who studied the weather patterns that occurred 10,000
years ago, and all of a sudden realises they are about to happen
again. He starts warning people about this and realises that this
thing is coming faster than even he expected. At the same time,
his son is off to school in New York, and he realises that hes
in grave danger.
Q. What made you think of casting Dennis?
Emmerich: Dennis had a really huge success in America with
The Rookie, which pretty much put him back on the map. But its
not really about that. If you had a real star in that part, you
would know how it all ended. Its great when you only have
to, like, cast good actors, for a director thats perfect.
And because theyre all equal you dont know what will
happen at the end, where if wed had Mel Gibson in that role
Q. What was it about Jake Gyllenhaal that suggested him for
Gordon: Hes a wonderful actor. We had seen his work
in some of the smaller independent pictures that hed done,
and actually I was over here and saw him in a play called This
Is Our Youth, which he was fantastic in.
I called Roland after having seen it and said I love this
guy, and Roland was excited about him, having seen his work
as well, and he was our first choice. As a matter of fact, all
of the actors were. This is one of the things that youre
always supposed to say when youre talking to the press,
but in this case its really true.
With Dennis, we were looking for the right combination of physicality
and emotionality and intelligence to be able to play a scientist
who was at the same time someone who had the physicality to be
able to go off and rescue his son.
Q. What is it about you and disaster movies, Roland?
Emmerich: I like this idea of normal people in extraordinary
situations. Then they have to do things they wouldnt normally
do. I did the same thing in Independence Day, viewing the alien
invasion more as a disaster, with the same story of normal people
who have to triumph in an extraordinary situation.
Q. Is there a very solid basis in scientific fact in the movie?
Emmerich: A lot. The only thing what we did for dramatic reasons
was to make the time period shorter. But we were actually surprised
to find that there were a lot of articles, in papers and magazines,
which read more and more like our movie. In Fortune magazine,
of all magazines, they wrote that the Pentagon has now ordered
their think-tank to consider what they would do in case of a global
climate shift towards an ice age. And what they described leading
up to this ice age is exactly like our movie. So thats cool.
Gordon: The fact is that we really did do a lot of research
and had a lot of consultants for the science of the movie, and,
obviously, for dramatic purposes, as Roland said we had to truncate
and shorten that to make it one big storm.
But all of the things that happen in the movie have happened before.
The weather events that occur are things that are believed to
have led up to that event, so it is all based on scientific fact.
Q. Have you been working on The Day After Tomorrow ever since
your last film, The Patriot, four years ago?
Emmerich: I took maybe a year off in between, but it was actually
during The Patriot that I found that book. We were shooting in
North Carolina and we had constantly these hurricanes coming in,
so I was religiously watching the weather channel.
At the same time, in the bookstore at the hotel, I found this
book, The Coming Of The Global Superstorm, and started reading
it. I had no idea then that I would do it.
Then I read another article, which was headlined Is There
A New Ice Age Coming?, and I said hmmm, this sounds
like a movie.
Q. You worked on the screenplay on your own for a while, before
teaming up with Jeffrey Nachmanoff didnt you?
Emmerich: Mark brought me together with Jeffery, and I really
liked him. Working together accelerated things, but we did this
all ourselves because I always felt that a studio would not have
developed this film.
A studio would have asked who is saving the earth?,
but I wanted to make a different movie to that. You cannot stop
an ice age, the only thing you can do is to save as many people
as you can. So we worked on it and sent out the script to the
different studios and everybody wanted to have it.
We were in a very fortunate situation to get an immediate green
light and we ended up at the studio that we wanted to be
Q. Your films traditionally wreak havoc upon some well-known
landmarks. Here, the Hollywood sign gets it was that fun
to create for the cameras?
Emmerich: A lot of people wanted me to cut that out, and
I said only over my dead body. I have lived in that town for 14
years and I dont enjoy it.
Q. Do you enjoy the time-consuming process of adding the various
special effects to the things you have shot?
Emmerich: We set ourselves a really high standard, and thats
sometimes a curse because you have to take shots away from [some
effects] companies and give it to other [effects] companies, which
is always a little bit problematic. You always have to make compromises,
so while I love visual effects, I totally hate having to do them,
because you feel, as a director, that its not in your hands
You can only say yes or no in the end,
and eventually theres a moment when you cannot say it any
more because the movie has to be finished.
Gordon: We have, what, roughly 400 visual effects in the
film, which is not really a lot of shots, but they are very complicated
and include some things that havent been done before.
Emmerich: Also, we did everything CG [computer-generated]
the first time, the New York stuff was all computer-generated
and it looks pretty photo realistic, and Im really proud
Gordon: Basically, what [the effects company] did was read
all the buildings with lasers and, at the same time, took thousands
and thousands of photographs for texture. All of that was fed
into a computer, so we were able to not just create New York,
but literally recreate it down to the inch of all of these buildings,
and their exact textures and colour and so on. That hasnt
been done before, but it was the only way to do this and make
it look real.
Q. Given the times in which we live, will the political climate
effect the way the movie is received in America?
Gordon: I dont think well be invited to show this
picture at the White House. But I think whats exciting for
us, is to have the opportunity to make a film thats spectacular
and entertaining, and at the same time has real meaning for us,
and, I think, for everyone.
As an American, I feel uncomfortable about the attitude that my
government has towards both the Kyoto Accord. I think that the
American public are concerned about pollution and the environment,
and are doing what they can, in terms of recycling and so on,
to try and solve that problem. But the corporate world and the
government is certainly less concerned. We hope that this will
make some difference.