The Summer Movie Preview was written by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Jess Cagle, Jeff Gordinier, A.J. Jacobs, Heather Keets, Albert Kim, Gregg Kilday, Chris Nashawaty, Beth Pinsker, Jessica Shaw, Benjamin Svetkey, and Anne Thompson.
Starring Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack, Angus MacFayden.
Directed By Mel Gibson.
Talk about lethal weapons. In Braveheart, a kilted Gibson rampages through the muddy bogs of 13th-century Scotland wielding such exotic instruments as deer antlers (good for gouging eyes), a corn flail (handy for smiting enemies), and a spiked-ball-on-chain (dandy for bashing in skulls). ”I went all the way, but then pulled back in the editing room where the film was perhaps a little…excessive,” says Gibson, who not only played freedom fighter William Wallace but also directed and produced the 173-minute epic at a reported cost of almost $70 million.
”I watched a lot of battle films,” Gibson says of the basic training he underwent to prepare for his triple duty. ”My favorite was Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight because it really draws you into the battle.” After first plotting out the bone-crushing action sequences with the help of toy soldiers, Gibson set up camp outside Dublin and enlisted 1,700 members of the Irish Army (later multiplied with computerized special effects) to stage the historic clashes. Bristling at reports in a British tab that 500 overenthusiastic extras had mauled each other so badly that many ended up in the hospital, Gibson offers a less savage casualty report: ”We had a fractured ankle, a broken nose, and three hangnails — nothing more serious than that.”
”Mel was the general,” volunteers MacFayden, who plays Wallace’s sometime rival, Robert the Bruce, ”but he created a sense of fun.” Says McCormack, the 23-year-old newcomer who appears as Gibson’s love interest, ”There were a lot of whoopee cushions and stink bombs on the set.”
”It was a long haul,” says an exhausted Gibson. The worst of it? Having to work all day covered with sticky fake blood. ”It was pretty funky,” he laughs. ”When you blinked, your eyelids stuck together.”
What’s at stake The most expensive movie directed by an actor. Paramount’s best hope for a summer blockbuster could recast Gibson’s career, promoting him from an actor who sometimes directs to a director who can also act.
Starring Billy Crystal, Debra Winger, Joe Mantegna, Cynthia Stevenson, Julie Kavner, Richard Masur, Cathy Moriarty, John Spencer.
Directed By Billy Crystal.
Think of it as When Harry Met Sally…Part Deux. ”Most romantic comedies end with happily-ever-after,” says Forget Paris’ director-star-producer-cowriter Crystal. ”I wanted to start with happily-ever-after and see if I could keep the couple there. After all, happily-ever-after is a lot of hard work.” Crystal plays a cranky basketball referee who takes a vacation in Paris, Winger is the American expatriate who makes him dribble, and the rest of the cast play various best friends who take turns narrating the story of their bumpy courtship. ”It’s a romantic comedy with a ’90s twist,” says Stevenson. ”The couple rides off into the sunset, but first they have to go through an in-vitro-fertilization crisis and whose-job-is-more-important crisis. It’s very realistic.” It’s also one of a slew of pictures (including the current hit French Kiss) that have been set in the City of Light in recent months. ”Yeah, I know,” cracks Crystal. ”In fact, our original title was Jefferson in Paris, but we had to change it.”
What’s at stake Crystal’s last stint as a quadruple-hyphenate — 1992’s Mr. Saturday Night — bombed. Another flop, and he may foul out of the directing game.