Image Credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage.comPiranha 3D director Alexandre Aja has told EW he is not worried about the possibility of legal action by Girls Gone Wild chief Joe Francis. In the film, which was released on Friday, Jerry O’Connell plays a character named Derrick Jones who runs a Girls Gone Wild-type operation called Wild Wild Girls. Jones is shown snorting cocaine and encouraging two underage characters to drink liquor. Last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a lawyer representing Francis sent a letter to Piranha 3D distributors The Weinstein Company cautioning “all those associated” with the film to refrain from maligning Francis. The letter stated that “any defamatory or disparaging statements; or depictions in the media or in the film itself, or other statements that portray Francis in a false light, will be met with swift litigation to recover substantial damages.”
“I believe Mr. O’Connell may lose more than his penis if he and the Weinstein Co. choose to release this film and continue to falsely associate me with its questionable content,” Francis told The Hollywood Reporter, referring to a sequence in the movie during which Derrick Jones’ penis is indeed bitten off by piranha.
But according to Aja, the character in the spring break-set movie was actually inspired by a number of different people. “When I was writing and developing that character, which was in the original script, I never thought about Joe Francis,” said the French director. “I am not [concerned]. There are so many person like that. Spring break is about thousands and thousands of kids getting drunk and partying. Around them you have very bizarre people. On the one hand, you have the very religious ultra-Christian people trying to convince them to read the bible and not show their boobs. And on the other hand, you have people from the adult industry coming to provoke and tease college kids and have them doing crazy stuff on camera. This character of Jerry O’Connell’s was, for me, a human piranha. But not based on anyone specifically. Writing that script and creating the Wild Wild Girls, you cannot help yourself but think about Girls Gone Wild and about Joe Francis. But it’s a very very, very, very, very, different character. People might recognize a little bit of him, but it’s based on so many other people.”