About The Production
McTiernan's Rollerball is an update of the classic 1975 film directed by Norman
Jewison. It isn't the first time McTiernan has remade a Jewison film; the recent The Thomas Crown Affair was also based on an earlier Jewison incarnation.
But although he acknowledges there are similarities between his Rollerball and the original, there are some crucial differences: the original film was set far in the future, but McTiernan's is just about to happen; the teams in McTiernan's film are co-ed; and McTiernan's game is not set in the United States, as the original one was.
"The premise of Rollerball," says McTiernan, "is that a dangerous new sport is created, and somebody says, 'Gee, we can up our take by 10 percent if we get some blood on the track.' What happens if you move an extreme sport to a place where there are no limits, the kind we take for granted? What happens if a couple of normal American guys get swept up and caught in this thing?"
Star Chris Klein says that scenario isn't too far off the mark. "In football, when somebody makes an amazing play, they replay it over and over. They do the same thing when someone is hurt," says Klein, who portrays Rollerball's young hero, Jonathan Cross. "They get a close-up of it, they get the microphones in there to hear what's being done. Then, once they show the close-up of the injury and everything around it — boom, they go to commercial, because that's when everyone is sitting around the television watching."
"I mean, look at the success of Survivor," he continues. "Audiences are enthralled by people behaving like savages. This movie examines those questions. What happens when sports become tainted?"
CHRIS KLEIN has steadily gained acclaim with winning turns in films like American Pie and Election, but he was thrilled at the opportunity to star in a no-holds-barred McTiernan action picture. "I read the script a long time ago," he says, "and I really loved it. In addition to the themes it explores, I thought it was just a really cool movie. I've always been a huge fan of action movies, and it was a great chance to work in the genre. The game, the character, McT [as McTiernan is known to his cast] — it's everything an actor could ask for."
Klein enjoyed the challenge of playing a character faced with the complications of quick stardom, a situation that echoes his own quick rise to film fame. "Jonathan starts out as a guy in
San Francisco who doesn't have a whole lot going for him," he says, "searching for something that makes him feel alive. At first, Jonathan's attraction to Rollerball is a vanity thing. He all of a sudden goes from being nobody to being one of the most famous, powerful and richest Rollerball players. Eventually, though, he realizes there's a high price for all that." Combine his character's dilemma with breathtaking action and stunt sequences to train for, and Klein was set for an extremely exciting shoot.
Marcus Ridley, Jonathan's best friend and fellow Rollerballer, is played by LL COOL J, the phenomenal recording artist and actor who has garnered critical kudos for his work in such films as Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea, and Kingdom Come. When Ridley convinces his friend Jonathan to come play this new sport, he introduces him to what becomes a very dangerous and lethal game — a game that extends beyond the Rollerball arena.
"At first, my character is only out to get a check. He's only interested in getting paid and staying safe," says LL. "He eventually realizes, though, that he's been put into a life- threatening situation because other people can profit from it. He has to figure out how to respond to that, and decides that friendship, love, and integrity are more important than money. I think that is cool. It's a<
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