Friday night, Kurt Russell did something that he almost never does. He sat down in front of an audience and answered questions about one of his films. This auspicious event happened at the Q&A screening for Escape from New York that was a part of Entertainment Weekly’s ongoing CapeTown Film Fest. Russell talked about what it was like to work with director John Carpenter and gave fans some great behind-the-scenes info about the shoot, such as details about Snake’s wardrobe and what scene was cut from the film and why. Russell also gave his opinion about a possible remake of the film. Hit the jump for all that info and much more.
— Russell feels that Snake is the most iconic character he’s ever gotten to play and he was very happy at the time to get to play something that he’d never done at the time. But he wasn’t the studio’s first pick for the role. John Carpenter had to fight for him to get the part.
— One of the things Russell loves the most about Snake is his attitude and the fact that he is a true bad guy. Originally there was going to be a scene in the film that made Snake a little more sympathetic, but Carpenter ultimately decided to cut it. The scene featured Snake having to choose between helping a friend and escaping the police. Russell said he was happy that it cut in the end as without it you get a guy who just walks on screen as a true bad guy.
– Snake’s wardrobe was carefully thought out Russell had a big part in what the character ultimately wore. Because he knew that Snake had been in Siberia, they went with a “cooler” version of the black and white fatigues. Russell kept everything of Snake’s from the film and was very proud to say that he still fit into it for the beginning of Escape from L.A. He said that he and Carpenter discussed having Snake where the same outfit in the second film, but decided that it would make him into a cartoon character and decided against it.
— As for Snake’s iconic tattoo and its location on his body, Russell said, “If you’re going to have a tattoo of a cobra, that’s where it should be.”
— Snake’s voice came from a lot of thought about matching it to who he was as a character. Russell said that he never intended to sound like anyone in particular, but thought that Snake was just a guy who never had to raise his voice to be heard, thus the low growl.
– Some of the scenes from the original film were shot in a sketchy neighborhood that had its own resident of scary characters. One night Russell had to run down a street and around a corner to get ready to run in for a shot. Once there, he was out of sight and earshot of any of the crew and suddenly found himself facing some of those people. They took one look at him in his Snake costume with his eye patch and gun and quickly backed off. Russell said that’s when he knew the character was going to work.
— When filming the fight scene in the boxing match, Russell had to take over and do the master shot for his stunt double. The man playing his opponent was a real wrester named Ox who apparently didn’t know how to pull a punch and accidentally beat the stunt double’s face so black and blue that they couldn’t use him. Ox apparently hit all of them, but Russell said he got his revenge when they shot the scene where Snake kills him. Ox had to lie still while Russell aimed his bat for a nail that was sticking out of a block taped to Ox’s head. This understandably made Ox very nervous, but Russell hit his mark on the first try.
– Russell and Carpenter are still really good friends. Russell described Carpenter as being like a big brother to him and said that the director has always had his back. Asked how they became friends, Russell said it was one of those instances of hitting it off with someone and not really knowing why.
— Russell peeked through the camera lens once during shooting and thought to himself, “What is he thinking?” after seeing how Carpenter had set up the scene. It was such a new way of setting up shots that Russell had never seen it before, but likes how you can see Carpenter’s influence in so many films since then.
— When asked about a sequel, Russell said that while he admits that nothing is sacred in his industry, he did feel that remakes should be done to films that are flawed and need revising to make them right. When asked about his opinions on who should play Snake if a remake were done, Russell remarked that he thought it was interesting how many people have given him their suggestions and the actors are always from Australia and other countries. “There’s one thing I can tell you about Snake – he’s an American.”