First Person: Why I Blew Up the White House Again – By Roland Emmerich
Roland Emmerich, director of 'White House Down' and 'Independence Day' (Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
By Roland Emmerich
When I had finished "Independence Day," I had the luck to be invited to the White House by President Clinton with Bill Pullman and the writer/producer Dean Devlin, before the movie came out. I didn't know what to expect and there was this little cocktail party followed by dinner with a couple of tables, not more than 25 people, staffers, friends of the Clintons, and their daughter. And then we went down into the screening room and watched the movie and, yes, it has a scene where the White House blows up.
It was the most surreal moment in my life. Only in America!
It was so funny because when I read James Vanderbilt’s script for "White House Down" it reminded me that the President's speakers were really lousy but James said, 'oh, no, I made it up.' But they were lousy!
When we made "Independence Day," we used a model. That's changed now. Everything in "White House down" is CGI. Flames and smoke in particular can be created in the computer more convincingly. In the model years, the most fake thing was smoke and fire because they revealed the scale. Now, since I made '2012,' where everything was digital, it was a watershed moment. From now on, you don't have to put any barriers on your imagination. You can create anything. And it's a little frightening because it leads to movies that overdo it.
The White House, as depicted in 'White House Down' (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
There's also a line where the Speaker of the House played by Richard Jenkins says, "Our country is stronger than one house." For me it's a cool example of how movies come to be: you have improvised stuff and scripted stuff. One is a funny joke that tells the audience, 'don't take this too seriously.' On the other hand I love this line "our country is stronger than one house" but [spoiler alert] it isn't until you look at the movie a second time that you realize this bastard is willing to raze the building to rise in power.