The War of 1996 may have annihilated more than 3 billion people, but the mood couldn’t have been more cheery last night at the Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot, where Independence Day writer-director Roland Emmerich and his stars, Jeff Goldblum and Vivica A. Fox, gathered to celebrate the landmark blockbuster’s 20th anniversary.
Although the original Independence Day grossed more than $800 million worldwide and became a cultural phenomenon, when walking the red carpet, Emmerich revealed his initial reluctance to approach a sequel for the film. “I’m always very outspoken against sequels, and franchise movies,” he said. But as the sequel developed, and the possibility of an upcoming cast of fresh faces cropped up in the absence of Will Smith, the idea of a multi-generational renewal of the series was too interesting to pass up. “There’s the conflict of old and young, and what you promise to young people, and what can you kind of, at the end, really do? That was super interesting.”
Talking about the 1996 original pic, the filmmaker said: “I had no idea that this would be the success that it is. But it was interesting — I met Steven Spielberg later, and he said to me, ‘This movie will do more to change blockbuster summer movies than any movie before.’ I think he was right.”
A reporter’s question prompted Emmerich to discuss a potential Independence Day 3. “I don’t even want to think about this right now,” he said. “Whatever I do, I want to do something original again.”
On the red carpet earlier, Vivica A. Fox – who co-starred in ID4 and also appears in Independence Day: Resurgence, which hits theaters June 24 – said that she sees a rising star in the sequel. “Jessie T. Usher is going to be the next hot thing,” she said about the young actor who plays the now-grown son of the character played by Will Smith in the original. “He’s got that ‘it factor’ for Generation X. The same thing that made them fall in love with Will Smith, they’re going to fall in love with Jessie T. Usher.”
And what has changed since the time of the 1996 production? German director Emmerich’s English has improved, Fox joked, making the on-set communication easier.
She added that a major departure from the ‘90s was the way in which the sequel dealt with issues of representation. Independence Day: Resurgence, Fox noted, is diverse not only in terms of race but also in terms of gender — with Sela Ward taking the reins as POTUS in the sequel — and sexuality. “Our world has evolved,” Fox said. “I’m so thrilled that Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich were brave enough to say, ‘Let’s think forward. We’re not going to have the same relationships that we had 20 years ago.’”
Considering Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House, was the choice of Ward to play the president pure coincidence? Fox said she doesn’t know, but she’s loving it. “Hashtag I’m With Her!” she said with a laugh. “I’ve been campaigning for her the whole nine, and especially with Donald Trump. That’s my guy — we did Celebrity Apprentice together. But ah, God, I just want to wake up one morning and not hear him rambling.”
Goldblum, who also appears in both Independence Day films, said on the carpet: This twenty year span, that’s kind of an interesting way to let the thing gestate. I’ve been pregnant with this thing, and now my water has broken, and out’s come the second Independent child. And it’s kind of thrilling. And it’s been thrilling for my character to collaborate with a peaceful world, where we’ve all kind of transcended religion, politics and nationalism to work together, peacefully.”
Then he sang a little John Lennon: “Imagine there’s no countries, and no religion too…”