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WILD THINGS

About The Production

Principal photography on Wild Things commenced on April 21, 1997, in Coconut Grove, Florida. Two mansions on Miami Beach's Star Island, the world famous Jimbo's at Virginia Key, the courtroom in which Manuel Noriega was convicted on drug trafficking charges and the Atlantic Ocean also served as locations.

Submitted to McNaughton in early 1996, WILD THINGS offered the director an opportunity to create "a classic tale of revenge." He was wary of doing a run-of-the mill thriller, but the serpentine plot of WILD THINGS stood out. "I don't like most thrillers I see. I read the first five pages of the script, and I can already predict what will happen on the last two pages. Most are very clichéd," he says. "With WILD THINGS, I read about 30 pages, and when I got to the end, I had no idea what was going to happen. I was completely surprised. I was a little sleepy when I first read it, but this script kept me awake." McNaughton agreed to do the film, and, once Kevin Bacon came on board, "we had a cast," he says.

In terms of style and production design, WILD THINGS marks a departure for the director, whose previous efforts include HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER and MAD DOG AND GLORY. "I think I've done 'gritty' pretty well in my previous work," McNaughton explains. "But if people want to see 'gritty' they can walk out their front door. I wanted this film to look big and glossy. The male and female characters should appear to be beautiful, which is in direct opposition to who they really are," he says.

Accomplished Director of Photography Jeffrey Kimball worked to help capture "that classic Hollywood style" that McNaughton desired for the production. Although the film in many ways resembles a traditional film noir, McNaughton eschews genre labels. "It has a lot of the elements of film noir, but it was never intended to be derivative of that style of film," he explains.

WILD THINGS was an unconventional choice for McNaughton in other ways. "I like to call WILD THINGS my first 'movie' movie. I had a larger budget to work with; my last movie was NORMAL LIFE, which I made for $2.75 million. Plus, none of my movies fit any genre at all, and they are more character-driven. In this story, the plot determined the behavior of the characters, as opposed to the characters driving the plot."

Directing a film with such a tangled story line that involves several distinct characters presented some interesting challenges to the director. "Usually, you'll have a core cast… you are working with two or three actors the whole time. With WILD THINGS, we had two weeks of rehearsal with ten actors. It was important to use our time wisely to give our actors the attention they needed."

The cast was presented with a formidable task as well. "In this film, characters are lying to each other in almost every scene. That made it a satisfying but difficult process for the actors, because they really needed to act twice," McNaughton points out.

A fan of true crime, McNaughton delighted in the story's more lurid aspects. "Even though it was a fantastic tale of twists and turns, this story could really happen," he explains. "Real people really do some of these stupid things."

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