Filmmaker Martin Brest hasn’t directed a movie in twenty years. His career began with the well-regarded “Going in Style” before delivering three bonafide classics with the first “Beverly Hills Cop,” the road trip classic “Midnight Run” and the memorable Al Pacino-led “Scent of a Woman”.
Then things took a turn. Romantic fantasy “Meet Joe Black” scored mixed reviews, the film blasted for its three-hour runtime and expensive $90 million budget. Combined with a box-office haul of just $142.9 million it wasn’t a hit.
After that came “Gigli,” the 2003 rom-com starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez considered one of the worst films of all time critically, and one of the biggest box-office failures – grossing just $7.2 million from a $75 million budget.
The reclusive Brest recently sat down with Todd Gilchrist at Variety to reflect on his films and on what happened with “Gigli”. It turns out it was a very different movie than what it started out as:
“The movie originally started very differently from what seems like the beginning now. I wonder if ever a movie had been changed that much… I’m sure it has in the history of Hollywood, but it was changed so radically.
The themes of the movie were radically different. The plot was different. The purpose of the movie was different. But I can’t escape blame. [But] it’s so weird — I literally don’t remember the movie that was released because I wasn’t underneath it in the way I was under the hood of all my other movies. So it’s really a bloody mess that deserved its excoriation.”
He partly saddles the blame on himself for not getting out of the project earlier. He and studio had extensive disagreements to the point that post-production was shut down for eight months. After that:
“I was left with two choices: quit or be complicit in the mangling of the movie. To my eternal regret, I didn’t quit, so I bear responsibility for a ghastly cadaver of a movie. Once key scenes were cut, it became like a joke with its punchline removed; endless contortions could never create the illusion that what remained was intended. Extensive reshooting and re-editing turned characters, scenes, story, and tone upside down in the futile attempt to make the increasing mess resemble a movie.”
The full piece, which includes reveals such as Brest having been involved for “a year-and-a-half full-time” on “WarGames” before leaving it and doing “Beverly Hills Cop” instead, can be found over at Variety.com.