The Rock was one of the biggest blockbusters of 1996, action or otherwise. It teamed Nicolas Cage with Sean Connery - a dynamic duo if ever there was one. The names behind the camera were equally impressive. Michael Bay had just hit the cinematic jackpot with Bad Boys. Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, the men who brought audiences hits like Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop, were the producers. In short, the movie couldn't lose.
Cage plays Stanley Goodspeed, an FBI chemical warfare expert brought in to help former British spy John Patrick Mason (played by Connery) foil disgruntled general Francis Hummel (Ed Harris), who is planning to launch chemical weapons at San Francisco. Hummel intends to do this from Alcatraz, meaning the heroes have to find a way to get onto the island without being spotted. All manner of exciting chaos ensues.
There was almost as much action behind the scenes as there was onscreen. A constantly rewritten script, a nervous director, and the tragic passing of Simpson are just a few of the things that marked the making of this action classic.
When The Film Ran Over Schedule, Sean Connery Saved Michael Bay During A Profane Meeting With Disney Execs
Because of all the logistics involved, it isn't uncommon for action movies to run behind schedule and/or over budget. The Rock was no different. Since it was only Michael Bay's second film, the executives at Disney rode him pretty hard when production ran two days behind.
After telling Sean Connery about the situation, the star offered to help. Bay invited Connery to a meeting with the execs. As Bay recounts it, his star walked in, looked at the suits, and said, "This boy is doing a good job, and you’re living in your Disney F*cking Ivory Tower, and we need more f*cking money!"
That was all it took to convince the studio brass to back off.Interesting anecdote?
Director Michael Bay Was ‘Terrified’ Of Directing Acting Legend Sean Connery
Even the most seasoned directors had reason to be nervous directing Sean Connery. The talented actor was known for being opinionated and for not suffering fools gladly. Michael Bay had the potentially unenviable luck of directing the legendary star on only his second film. Needless to say, Bay was terrified.
He told The Hollywood Reporter:
I was young, dumb, doing my second movie, The Rock. I had heard he was notoriously tough on directors. I was terrified when I gave him my first direction: "Uh, Sean, can you please do that less charming." He said, "Sure, boy!" "Boy" was the nickname he gave me.
From there, the two worked together with no apparent problems.Interesting anecdote?
General Hummel’s Character Was Based In Part On A '60 Minutes' Episode
The Rock's villain, General Hummel, is unusual in the action genre because his heinous actions have a noble motivation behind them. He threatens to launch rockets containing nerve agents at San Francisco unless the government ponies up $100 million. He wants to distribute that money to the families of Marines who perished on a clandestine mission he commanded.
Producer Don Simpson came up with General Hummel based on an episode of 60 Minutes that he watched. The show featured a report on how the US government had repeatedly refused to acknowledge soldiers who gave their lives in undercover overseas missions. Simpson was also inspired by the memoirs of Col. David H. Hackworth, a harsh critic of US planning during the Vietnam War.
Those influences were combined to make Hummel a non-traditional villain - someone the audience could empathize with on some level.Interesting anecdote?
Alcatraz Island, A National Park, Couldn’t Be Shut Down For Filming, So The Crew Had To Accommodate Tourists
Michael Bay felt strongly that the feel of Alcatraz could not be recreated on a sound stage. He wanted to film at the actual location. Disney went along with the plan, and arrangements were made for the cast and crew to film the movie on the island.
There was just one little catch. Alcatraz is classified as a national park, meaning it can't be closed down. As such, the production crew had to accommodate groups of tourists wandering around, rubbernecking at them, as well as the prison itself.Interesting anecdote?