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by dr andrew cousins

James Macaroon

James Macaroon has a reputation as the toughest and most uncompromising director working in Hollywood today. He began as the director of the low-budget science fiction action movie ‘The Exterminaliser’ which was a surprise hit in 1982. Now his films are among the most expensive and technologically complex productions imaginable. I went to talk to the man they call "That Bastard".

AC: James, you’ve been called the toughest director in Hollywood. Is that reputation justified?

JM: People get the wrong idea about me. They think I’m being difficult. But to me making a movie is kinda like fighting a war. Everybody has a job to do and they have to do it to the best that they can. If they don’t, you get killed. It’s the same on set. If I ask for something to be done then I expect it to be done. War is hell. Making a movie is twice that bad.

AC: So are the stories true that you once had a runner fired because "they had an odd face"?

JM: He didn’t just have an odd face he looked like the bastard offspring of Herman Munster and Karl Malden. How the hell was I supposed to concentrate with freak boy running around the place?

AC: So was he fired?

JM: In a manner of speaking. I had him taken outside and shot.

AC: Wasn’t that rather extreme?

JM: You have to be cruel to be kind. With a face like that he had nothing left to live for. We did him a favour actually.

AC: You seem to enjoy making films that are extremely complicated technically. I’m thinking in particular about ‘The Abuse’, which was almost entirely filmed underwater. Why is that?

JM: I like to challenge myself. I want to explore just how far I can push the limits of what’s possible. If people keep telling me that something is impossible then I’ll just go right out and prove them wrong. Where’s the fun in making something easy? Nobody had ever made a film like that before. People told me I was crazy for even trying it. Especially my analyst. She never shut up about it. But you know what? We did it. Okay, it may have cost 200 million dollars to shoot on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean but it was worth every cent. George Lucas wouldn’t have had the balls to shoot down there. He’d have tried to blue screen everything. He can blue screen my ass. Did Orson Welles ever shoot on the seabed? I don’t think so. Those guys aren’t fit to wipe my lens cap.

AC: But on ‘The Abuse’ sixteen technicians were hospitalised due to exhaustion. Don’t you think sometimes that you push people too far?

JM: No way. If they aren’t up to the job then that’s not my fault. Making a movie is kinda like going twelve rounds with Mike Tyson. Once you’ve started you’d better damn well keep on punching because otherwise he’ll knock you into next week. My movies are the Green Berets of cinema.

AC: In 1992 you made a film called ‘True Spies’ which seemed to be a Bond film in all but name. Are you a fan of the James Bond pictures?

JM: Yes and no. I can see the potential but they just never quite pull it off.

AC: In what way?

JM: Well one big problem that they have is that the main character is English. No offence but you guys are the scum of the planet. You’ve got absolutely no backbone what so ever. You wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds in ‘Nam. The character of James Bond is supposed to be a suave, sophisticated gentleman spy. Now I’m sorry but all the English guys I’ve met like that wouldn’t be out chasing women. He’d be a great big fag. What the character needs is to be tough. Tough and deadly. You have to be aware that he could kill somebody with his bare hands if he needed to.

AC: Presumably that’s why you cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role?

JM: Totally. You look at Arnold and you think, "Jesus. This guy could rip my head off in a second. With his little finger." That’s the kind of thing that Bond needs.

AC: Of course some people have been rather critical of Arnold’s acting abilities haven’t they?

JM: I hear this all the time. "Arnold can’t act. Arnold can’t act." Listen, Arnold can act as well as any Austrian bodybuilder that I’ve ever met.

AC: And how many is that?

JM: That’s entirely beside the point.

AC: It’s been a while since your last film. Are you working on anything right now?

JM: I’m working on a thriller set on the international space station. It’s called, ‘International Space Station Thriller’. That’s just a working title though.

AC: Can you tell us anything about the plot?

JM: Basically, terrorists plant a nuclear weapon on the international space station which, if it explodes, will cause it to plunge into New York. We’re actually going to film it in space. It’s the first time that a film will have been shot there.

AC: Except that Imax film obviously.

JM: What?

AC: There was a documentary made a few years back that was mainly shot on board the space shuttle by the astronauts. It’s quite well known.

JM: Why didn’t anybody tell me about this? I want my PA fired. Out of a window.

AC: Sorry.

JM: Anyway there’s going to be other stuff in it that’s not been done before.

AC: Such as?

JM: We’re going to blow up the moon.

AC: What?!

JM: Yeah. That’s how the government know that the terrorists are serious because in the opening reel they blow up the moon.

AC: But you’re going to use computer graphics or something surely?

JM: No way. No CGI in my movie. We’re going to blow that big bastard to kingdom come.

AC: But that’s monstrous!

JM: Why? What use is to anybody anyway? All it does is hang there shining in through my window at night. Laughing at me. Mocking me like my ex-wife. Bitch.

AC: But it controls the Earth’s tides for goodness sake. The climate of the planet would be irrevocably altered.

JM: There are always casualties in film. We have to think big here. This is a movie, right? No half measures, no compromises. We have to think bigger then big. We have to think large.

AC: You’re utterly unhinged aren’t you?

JM: God, you sound just like my psychiatrist. At least the way he sounded before I rammed my Oscar down his throat. He doesn’t talk so good any more. Have I shown you my Oscar by the way? It’s very heavy. It could make quite a dent in that prissy English head of yours.

AC: Er, I think we’ll leave it there. James Macaroon, thank you.

James Macaroon will be destroying the planet’s eco-system in the name of cinema later this year.

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