We’ve been talking about an Independence Day sequel for many, many years now, but the time has finally arrived. Come June 24th, we’re going to get to see what happens when the aliens return and Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) have to step up and save the world again.
As someone who watches the 1996 original on repeat and still treasures her Independence Day VHS tape, the opportunity to visit the Albuquerque, New Mexico set of Independence Day: Resurgence was quite the treat. Not only did I get to watch the June 2015 live event right there on set, but I also got to catch a little filming and interview ID veterans Roland Emmerich, Pullman, Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox (Jasmine Hiller) and Brent Spiner (Dr. Okun), and new comers Liam Hemsworth (Jake Morrison), Maika Monroe (Patricia Whitmore) and Jessie Usher (Dylan Hiller).
We’ll have the full interviews coming your way throughout the week, but for now, you can catch some highlights from our conversations below as well as a brief description of the scene I watched Emmerich film.
This film was a long time coming. Emmerich revealed what helped him finally break story: “I’m a little bit upset that we as a world cannot come together. And when I did the first Independence Day everybody [was] like, ‘Oh, this was so patriotic,’ and all these kind of things, but I always thought, it’s the world coming together. It was really ethnic groups who came together and this time around I’m just saying, ‘Look, this is what we could be if we would unite.’”
Emmerich actually took a cue from The Hunger Games while making Independence Day: Resurgence: “As kind of in awe of the first movie I am myself, because we wrote it in like three and half weeks or so, this time we had to work on the script for five years because we had to find the thing people want to see because you always want to kind of please an audience and we looked around at what other successful – and we actually looked more at Hunger Games and movies like that than at the Marvel movies, and so that was very interesting for me and out of that developed some sort of something new, I think.”
David Levinson is still leading the charge against the invaders. Goldblum began, “I became the director of the Earth Space Defense program and things have happened in my personal life that are interesting.” He continued, “As a scientist, I was and our team was able to co-opt and appropriate some of their advanced stuff and combine it with our own to make what we think are more powerful weaponry and shielding and defense stuff and [there’s] strategic base placement and stuff like that. We hope that it’s gonna be enough, if something like that should happen again.”
What happened to Connie?
Even though David managed to rekindle his romance with Connie in the 1996 original, Margaret Colin is not back for the sequel. Goldblum had to keep the details about what happened to Connie under wraps, but he did tease, “They have it in the story. I don’t know if I can – I haven’t talked to anybody on the board. I don’t know that I can give it away but something happened to her.”
President Whitmore is now feeling the effects of his alien encounter at Area 51. Pullman began, “It starts off with him having a lot of clear evidence that he’s been traumatized by the fact the aliens have possessed his brain.” He further explained, “Trauma’s interesting, you know? I did a project last year talking about traumatic brain injury and how with people who are casualties of war, it doesn’t manifest right away. It’s a curious thing that you would think it would be full blown and then become dissipated overtime, and it’s the opposite. It actually starts in a latency that stays for a long period and then usually it gets exacerbated by something and then it escalates, and so late in life you get traumatized and I think that’s kind of a great premise to start the character.”
There’s a reason Sela Ward’s character steps up and becomes president. Ward said, “She lost everybody – her husband, her kids, her whole family. And, you know, in the script you learn that 3 billion people died from the first attack so that’s pretty extraordinary.”
Patricia and Dylan only had one scene together in the first film, but they stayed close after that.
Usher began, “We had similar upbringings too after that.” Monroe chimed in, “Very famous dads.” Usher continued, “Very famous dads who saved the world together so we kind of just bonded and I can only imagine the pool parties and the barbecues we went to.”
What’s Patricia Whitmore up to now? Monroe explained, “I work in the White House very closely with the president. Also a fighter pilot.”
Dylan is following in his step-father’s footsteps. Usher said, “I am a squadron leader of an elite group of fighter pilots. We’re kind of like the Blue Angles sort of.”
Jasmine is off the pole! Fox explained, “The character has to grow up and the beautiful thing is that Jasmine is no longer stripping on the pole.” Now she’s a hospital administrator and a very supportive mother. Fox continued, “[Dylan] is gonna go up and kick some alien butt for us and we really appreciate that. He’s a fighter pilot and she’s urging him to be strong and, you know, to step into Steven Hiller’s shoes and make me proud.”
Meet Jake Morrison. Hemsworth offered up a brief introduction to his character. “I play Jake Morrison. He’s a bit off a smart ass, he’s quite outspoken. He’s a fun guy, he’s a good guy, but I think at times his ego has kind of gotten in the way and made sort of the wrong decisions at times, but he’s an amazing fighter pilot.” He further explained, “He basically made a very bad decision and quite a reckless decision and put another life at risk and, you know, his punishment is he gets his wings clipped temporarily from fighter pilot and gets sent to the moon to work in what is essentially a forklift.”
What happened to Jake during the first attack?
Hemsworth broke it down, “He would have been 6 or 7-years-old and his parents were killed in the first attack, and he grew up in an orphanage and eventually joined the military,” which is where Jake meets Patricia Whitmore.
Dylan and Jake don’t get along. Monroe laughed and told me, “Oh, they’ve got a little beef going.” Usher painted a somewhat clearer picture by likening it to Mean Girls; “To quote Mean Girls, we’re like, ‘You can’t sit with us.’”
You thought Dr. Okun was dead? Think again! Here’s what Spiner told me about what went down in Area 51 in the first film: “People assume Dr. Okun died in the first movie. I don’t know why they make that assumption! My eyes were open, this guy – Adam Baldwin, the dreaded Adam Baldwin – picks me up, he puts his fingers on my neck and I wanted to look at him and go, ‘You’re not a doctor! You’re a solider. What are you putting your fingers on my neck?’ But he didn’t say anything and so, cut to, here I am.”
In fact, there was a line cut from the original movie that might have changed Dr. Okun’s fate. Spiner revealed that Baldwin actually had a line after checking Dr. Okun’s pulse. “This is a little secret. He had a line that he said, ‘He’s dead,’ and they cut the line.”
If you want to know more about Dr. Okun, there’s actually a book about him. When I asked Spiner about the character’s history he told me, “There is a book! There was a pocket book that was the story of Dr. Okun that came out after the movie was released.” If you’d like to check it out, the book is called Silent Zone.
Will Smith may not be in the new movie, but Steven Hiller does have a presence.
Art Director Barry Chusid had to tread lightly when discussing this topic, but he did tell us a little something when we spotted some comic books with Hiller on the cover. “Steven Hiller’s a hero. That’s what I can tell you … He’s a hero and basically if you were a young boy, you’d probably want to read him.”
In between interviews we got the chance to catch some filming on a Moon Base set with the Moon Tug vehicle front and center. During our tour of the art department Chusid told us a bit about what the Moon Tug is and what it does: “We tried to come up with something that was like a flying forklift because we thought, if we’re going to basically create these habitats on different planets then you need to be able to take stuff up there and then move stuff around when you’re there as well, so what you’d want would be a forklift and we came up with this idea for the flying forklift.” That may sound cool to earthbound folks like us, but as Hemsworth explained, Jake isn’t thrilled about piloting a Moon Tug instead of a fighter jet, and we got a little taste of that in the scene he was shooting.
Before calling action, producer Dean Devlin came by to provide a little background information. Apparently Jake had just saved some lives, but he did some serious damage in the process. The scene began with Jake chatting with his buddy Charlie played by Travis Tope. They assess the damage until a superior comes by to reprimand Jake for what he’s done. Jake attempts to play it cool, spitting out cheeky lines like, “That was a close call,” and, “I was kind of hoping for a pat on the back,” but the officer isn’t amused by any of it. He tells Jake, “You don’t get credit for cleaning up your own mess.” However, it seemed as though the incident wasn’t even Jake’s fault to begin with. Charlie attempts to step in and take the blame, but Jake won’t let him. At the end he tells Charlie, “He already hates me. Why break tradition?”
You can’t really judge the potential of a movie, and especially a movie like this, based on a dialogue-driven scene and a handful of four-minute interviews. Plus, I’m a diehard Independence Day fan who’s watched the film countless times and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to visit the Resurgence set, so I’m going to be pumped for the June 24th release no matter what. However, I certainly can say I like the direction they’re heading in and they are expanding the mythology in promising ways. It may have taken Emmerich and his team a good deal of time to hit the sweet spot and actually get the sequel into production, but I’ve got high hopes it’ll be well worth the wait.
Want more from my Independence Day: Resurgence set visit? Check out the links below and keep an eye out for more interviews from set throughout the week.
- Roland Emmerich on How He Went from ‘ID Forever’ to ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’
- Jeff Goldblum Teases Connie’s Absence in ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’