Exclusive Interview: Andrew Davis on The Fugitive 20th Anniversary Edition
CraveOnline: The Guardian did well but it’s been seven years. Has it still been a fight to get another movie made?
Andrew Davis: Well, I’ve turned down a lot of violent action movies which I don’t want to do. I’m sort of spoiled because I worked with studios who’d say basically, “Go make the movie. We trust you. We believe in you.” That sort of doesn’t exist anymore today. There’s a committee and I don’t want to make a film where violence is the entertainment. I had a great time with Holes. I’m interested in doing family movies or four quadrant movies that are based upon quality literature or books.
I’m currently putting together a modern version of Treasure Island set in post Katrina Louisiana called Thieves Fortune. It’s the treasure of Jean LaFitte and I think it could be a really interesting, fun movie that could be about something and still be very entertaining.
Although even The Fugitive is still prompted by an act of violence. Did you have to find a way to get your head around that?
Well, it is an issue. It starts with a horrendous murder of a woman. It pulls you right in. The reason you can justify it is because it’s about corporate greed that caused the death to happen. That opens the door to a bigger conversation about what people are willing to do to make money. That’s how I was able to get my head wrapped around it.
Is Thieves Fortune at a studio?
Not yet. It will be as soon as we get finished with the script and get a cast.
Who is writing it?
Oh, there’ve been a lot of different people working on it. I worked on it, a guy named George Gallo who wrote Midnight Run worked on it. I’m working with Cary Brokaw, the producer on it, right now.
Given that outlook on violence, does the prospect of an Under Siege 3 not appeal to you?
[Laughs] With Tommy Lee Jones starring, yeah.
You’d have a bit of a problem to explain but it could be done.
Yeah, listen, sometimes I look at the net and they come up with these things that I’m doing supposedly that I have no idea how they get these ideas. Anyway, Under Siege was a lot of fun to do.
No one’s saying you’re doing it, but there were two, so there’s room for a third. There was a title on your IMDB called Pretty Boy Floyd. Is that real?
Well, it’s a script that I liked that somebody wanted me to make and I said I would do it so they put it online. I don’t know if it’ll ever get made but it’s a very interesting story. Pretty Boy was a guy who was robbing banks and paying off mortgages when the banks were throwing people out of the houses. I felt it was sort of a modern Grapes of Wrath, very relevant to today.
Is that still in the works?
If the people who have the script can come up with the money and want to hire me, I’ll be glad to do it. That’s not one of my projects per se.
Talking about Under Siege and Above the Law, are you aware of the book Seagalogy that an author named Vern wrote studying the entire oeuvre of Steven Seagal films?
No, I haven’t.
Oh, it is really entertaining and insightful.
Seagalogy, wow. Well, Above the Law is interesting because when I first got involved with it there was a whole other script Warner Brothers sent me about dealing with corruption on the waterfront in San Francisco. I met Seagal and first of all, I said, “Look, maybe Jon Voight could play this part.” It’s years ago and they said, “Well, meet this guy, Steven Seagal.” So I meet him and he said, “I picked you. I’m Michael Ovitz’s karate teacher. I saw Code of Silence and I want you to be the director of my movie.”
I spent some time with him and went back to the studio and said, “First of all, we need to do a screen test” which I did with Kelly LeBrock, who he had brought to Chicago and we shot some stuff. The studio loved it and I said, “You know, you’re doing the wrong movie with this guy. Do the movie based upon who he says he is and what he did in Vietnam and how he was a karate teacher and master. Don’t forget this cop story but tell [his story].” They said, “How long will it take you to write it?” because there was going to be a strike.
They called up Ron Shusett who remained a friend of mine and Steven Pressfield who became a very interesting novelist. We wrote the script in five weeks and that became Above the Law. It was based upon my interest in what was going on with Iran Contra and the whole idea of people speaking out about what was happening in Central America. That became the movie.
And you did end up doing another film with him later.
Well, Terry Semel wanted us to get back together again, yeah.
Sounds like the second time wasn’t a good experience?
You’ll notice, he’s only in the movie 41 minutes. Tommy Lee is in the movie longer than Steven. It was fine, it was fine. It worked out well. We had a nice time down in Mobile and had a lot of fun making the movie, and that was the movie that got me The Fugitive so it was worth it.
And Kelly LeBrock ended up in his next movie, so that worked out too.
Well, she was married to him at the time.
Well, it’s great to talk about The Fugitive again and touch on a few of the other classics too.
Thank you for your deep research and your knowledge of all of this stuff. It’s called Seagalogy, huh?
Yes, you should at least read the chapters on Above the Law and Under Siege.
Okay, I’ll look it up.