Joanna Hunkin is the Head of Entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Jeff Goldblum reveals why he came back for Independence Day Resurgence

Twenty years after the original, Independence Day has been rebooted. Joanna Hunkin talks to the stars.

Jeff Goldblum is babbling. He wants to know why Australians say "Haitch" and not "aitch".

His co-star Liam Hemsworth plays along, asking the roomful of soundmen, camera operators and publicists what they say.

Given we're in Sydney, he's in the majority. But Goldblum is still struggling with the concept.

"I've never heard that in my life," he says in almost childlike wonder. "Do you say 'amen' or 'hay-men'?"

It is one of the more ridiculous conversations I've ever been involved in and an obvious attempt to distract. It follows an opening gambit, which saw Goldblum compliment my trousers, shoes and engagement ring.

But I will not succumb to this charm assault. I have to ask the obvious: Why?

A scene from the movie, Independence Day Resurgence starring Jeff Goldblum.
A scene from the movie, Independence Day Resurgence starring Jeff Goldblum.

As in why, 20 years after Independence Day stormed the global box office, did they decide to make a sequel?

Goldblum starts off well: "I had a good time making the first one. Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich conceived a nice part for me. They were fun to work with. Roland Emmerich is a terrific director."

But he soon starts to run out of steam. "It was a good story. And Liam. And new people ... ."

Fair to say, it's not his most convincing performance.

German director Emmerich is more forthright. He openly admits he didn't want to make a follow-up.

"First of all, I am not a fan of sequels. It is very rarely that you find sequels which are good movies. Secondly, I had all these other ideas for movies."

But as time passed and technology progressed, Emmerich and his good friend Volker Engel (who won a visual effects Oscar for the original Independence Day) kept coming back to the idea. Imagine what they could do today?

Eventually, Emmerich says, he gave into the idea, accepting that Independence Day is his legacy.

Jeff Goldblum has returned to the Independence Day movie franchise.
Jeff Goldblum has returned to the Independence Day movie franchise.

One person not interested in that legacy was Will Smith. He turned down the offer to return as Captain Steven Hiller, a role that was a breakthrough in Smith's career, casting him as an action hero.

"Yeah, I was disappointed," admits Emmerich when asked about Smith's absence. "But I was stupid. I sent the script just when he was doing After Earth and wanted to start his own science fiction series. It was also a father and son story. He said, 'You know, I would love to do it but I can't do four movies in a row that are science fiction.

"He had just done Men in Black III and that was not a good experience for him, from what I heard. For a moment, I thought, 'Well that's it. I'm not doing it at all.' But then I thought, 'No, let's figure something else out.' All of a sudden we had this epiphany. It's a new generation."


Independence Day Resurgence picks up the story 20 years later as Earth is again threatened by aliens, forcing a new generation of heroes to fight to save humanity.

That new generation is led by Hemsworth, who was just 6 years old when the original film came out. He first watched it on VHS at home (which is how the farcical "haitch" conversation came about ... but let's move on).

He too was plagued by that obvious question.

"My initial reaction was, 'Meh. Why are they doing a second one 20 years later?' That was honestly my reaction."

A scene from Independence Day Resurgence starring Liam Hemsworth.
A scene from Independence Day Resurgence starring Liam Hemsworth.

Having just finished The Hunger Games franchise, he was reluctant to sign on to another action blockbuster but decided to join after meeting with Emmerich.

"I did have reservations about it ... But I read the script and it was good fun. It's big, epic, good fun. It's a popcorn movie."

Of course, the hope is that this film will mirror the success of the original. Released in July 1996, the film went on to earn more than $1.1 billion, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time (before being overtaken by Titanic the following year).

Emmerich says: "Stephen Spielberg told me and Dean before the film came out. He said, 'This Independence Day movie will change the industry more than you think.' Now, when you look at all the Marvel movies, they have the same tone. A lot of the time, they have the same destruction and often an alien invasion. "In a way, it was kind of the perfect formula, which we created and which can be applied to any other genre."

Liam Hemsworth stars in the new movie, Independence Day Resurgence.
Liam Hemsworth stars in the new movie, Independence Day Resurgence.

Time will soon tell whether that formula is still effective. Reviews for the film have been embargoed until just prior to its release.

Meanwhile, it seems the film's biggest star is keen to talk about just about anything other than the film itself. Including his own death.

Goldblum fans will recall the 2009 hoax, which was widely reported by international news outlets, announcing the death of Goldblum. He had, reportedly, fallen to his death while on a film set in New Zealand.

Word soon spread that this was not the case. Goldblum was very much alive and had, in fact, never been to New Zealand.

To this day, he's not sure he should chance it. "Could you imagine if that's the way I go? Wow. Could you imagine? 'They foretold the future, he actually did fall off a cliff in New Zealand.' It's got to happen some way!"

Who: Starring Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth, directed by Roland Emmerich
What: Independence Day Resurgence
When: In cinemas June 23

- TimeOut

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