WHAT LIES BENEATH
About The Production
When director/producer Robert Zemeckis and producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke joined forces to create
ImageMovers in 1998, one of the first questions on the table was, naturally, what kind of films they would want to produce. Zemeckis saw it as an opportunity to realize one of his filmmaking ambitions.
"During our first meetings, Bob said he was specifically looking for a film in the suspense genre," recalls Starkey. "When DreamWorks gave us Clark Gregg's script for 'What Lies Beneath,' Bob immediately wanted to move forward."
"Bob had a very strong vision for the film from the start," Rapke agrees. "He saw it as a pure suspense movie—perhaps the kind of film Hitchcock would have done in his day, but using the modern technology of today to help tell the story."
Zemeckis notes, "I think suspense and cinema are really made for each other. I mean, there are certainly very suspenseful books and stage plays, but I don't think anything can manipulate time and place and storytelling techniques the way a movie can. I've always wanted to try my hand at directing something really terrifying and mysterious."
At the center of the mystery of "What Lies Beneath" are Norman and Claire Spencer, so the casting of these two pivotal characters was crucial to the project. "We looked at those roles and decided, in an ideal world, who our dream casting would be," Rapke states. "Harrison Ford was Bob's first and only choice for Norman, and we all thought Michelle Pfeiffer would be perfect for Claire. So, you
know, the gods were with us, seven came up, and we got the two leads we were hoping for."
Zemeckis adds, "Harrison brings a kind of 'Rock of Gibraltar' strength to the screen. To me, he's the definition of absolute stardom. And Michelle is truly gifted. She's completely believable as this vulnerable woman, and at the same time conveys great inner strength. Along with her acting ability, she brings incredible beauty and a powerful screen presence to the role. You can't take your eyes off her."
While honoring the secrecy regarding much of the plot and his role, Harrison Ford does reveal that a number of different things drew him to the project and to the part of Dr. Norman Spencer. "Ordinarily, I respond to a character and his dilemma. In this case, I responded to the idea of the film itself. It was so immediate, so contemporary. I loved the construction of the script and the surprises built into it, as well as the character. I really can't say anything more about him.. .but I think that's what makes a good thriller; you don't want to take the fun out of it by knowing how it all ends."
Though limited in what she can disclose about her own role of Claire Spencer, Michelle Pfeiffer does offer, "Claire was a musician, but she had put all the passion that once went into her music into her daughter Caitlin. When Caitlin leaves for college, it's like the rug has been pulled out from under Claire. She starts hearing whispering voices and seeing things that might be unexplainable, but then again, could be explained—strange things that could be her imagination, or the wind, or the house settling.. .or a presence in the house. But I
think however convinced you might be that there's a presence in your house, you'd try to explain it away in any way you could because the alternative is so frightening. After all, Claire is married to a scientist who doesn't believe in ghosts, so for a time she begins to doubt her own sanity."
Pfeiffer continues, "I've loved scary movies since I was a kid, but as an actress the genre was new territory for me, which is exactly what I was looking for. I am also a huge fan of Bob Zemeckis and had always wanted to work with him. He has this sort of childlike enthusiasm about moviemaking that is<
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