Emmerich a master of mayhem for 'White House Down'
05:00 AM, Oct 31, 2013
When Hollywood needs to blow up the White House, director Roland Emmerich must be the first guy on speed dial.
Even he jokingly admits that he’s a “specialist,” with his talent for over-the-top destruction on display in White House Down. Out on Blu-Ray and DVD Tuesday, the thriller stars Jamie Foxx as the president and Channing Tatum as the Secret Service wannabe who becomes his de facto protector when a paramilitary group strikes in the nation’s capital.
The bonus features for the Blu-ray include 13 featurettes ranging from a look at the re-creation of the White House to a peek a what went into making Emmerich’s action-packed vision. “He really focuses on the story,” writer/producer James Vanderbilt says in one of the extras. “At the same time, nobody shoots mayhem better.”
The German director behind such epic films as Stargate, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow also infamously destroyed the president’s estate and lots of other stuff in the 1996 alien-invasion flick Independence Day. Ironically, that was also the movie that gained him entrance to the White House when then-President Bill Clinton, a sci-fi nut himself, asked for a private screening.
It was “a real out-of-body experience,” Emmerich recalls. “I saw the White House blow up inside the White House, together with the president and first lady.
“Actually, Hillary afterward said to me, ‘It looks like Bill should get a pilot’s license. But it’s a little late for that.’ “
For most movies that use the White House, filmmakers normally have to build an Oval Office, Cabinet room, maybe a hallway and the first bedroom, but that’s it, according to Emmerich. However, with something like White House Down where he had to build pretty much everything, “it becomes a character.”
He takes pride in what he considers the most accurate White House set ever built the White House Historical Association gave Emmerich exact plans, photographs and paintings from the real deal.
“We pretty much reconstructed it. And then we destroyed it,” the director says with a laugh.
The only thing that was changed: Because he had to stage a fight sequence in the White House kitchen and the original room is “super small,” Emmerich says, “I insisted that we break through a wall and make it bigger.
“We took some license there because we have Jamie Foxx as president. We said he has a little different taste than Obama.”