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
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
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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