According to actor Bill Pullman, the movie blockbuster “Independence Day” almost went to theaters by a different name, but his epic speech before the climactic last battle made studio executives change their minds.
Pullman, who played President Thomas Whitmore in the 1996 film, revealed in a recent interview with Cinemablend that there was a fight between 20th Century Fox and the moviemaking team of writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writer/producer Dean Devlin over what the title should be.
Emmerich and Devlin wanted “Independence Day,” but Fox favored something like “Doomsday,” as Pullman recalled.
“I think it was gonna be ‘Doomsday,’” the star said. “It’s what Fox wanted, and it was a title that was typical of the time [for a] disaster movie.”
Emmerich and Devlin decided to move President Whitmore’s iconic “Fourth of July” speech up earlier in the shooting schedule.
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“They really wanted ‘Independence Day,’ so we had to make the speech really good,” Pullman said.
The hope was if the scene was strong enough, it could be used to get the studio executives to change their minds.
“We shot that at night, of course, because it’s dark and not on a soundstage or anything,” Pullman recounted. “It was really late.”
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“And then they cut it together, and a couple of nights later, Dean came to my trailer, and he said, ‘Do you wanna see it’?
“So he popped in the VHS, he showed me the cut of the speech, and I went, ‘Holy Mother, they have got to name this movie “Independence Day.”’ And they did.”
In the film, the speech takes place at what is represented to be Area 51 in the Nevada desert.
“Aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching aerial battle in the history of mankind,” Whitmore tells his ragtag band of pilots.
“Mankind, that word should have no meaning for all of us today,” the president continues. “We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in common interests.”
“Perhaps it’s fate that today’s the Fourth of July, and you will be once again fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression or persecution, but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.”
Whitmore predicts if forces of humanity prevail, the holiday will take on a whole new meaning.
“And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, ‘We will not go quietly into the night, we will not vanish without a fight.’
“We’re going to live on,” the commander in chief exclaims. “We’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
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