About The Production
Bringing "The Negotiator" to the screen was a labor of love for producer David Hoberman since the idea was first presented to him by executive producers Robert Stone and Webster Stone, two brothers who find true stories suitable for adaptation into books,
Bringing "The Negotiator" to the screen was a labor
of love for producer David Hoberman since the idea was first presented
to him by executive producers Robert Stone and Webster Stone,
two brothers who find true stories suitable for adaptation into
books, films and television programs.
"Their idea was based on an actual event that took place
in St. Louis," says Hoberman. "The best hostage negotiator
in St. Louis alleged he got framed by people within the police
department and ended up taking hostages to smoke out the people
he said were the real culprits. And the only guy he felt he could
trust was a stranger, so he called in the second-best hostage
negotiator in St. Louis to work with him."
What so attracted Hoberman to the project was the story's inherent
contradiction of "somebody who epitomizes the law having
to break the law in order to prove his innocence; a police
officer who commits a crime to prove that he didn't commit the
crime they're saying he did. I always thought that was a really
interesting premise and moral dilemma.
Hoberman hired screenwriters James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox and
began developing the story. "They had a really interesting
take on the material and a passion for the story," says Hoberman.
"They also had a personal emotional stake in the story because
Kevin's family has had policemen in it for generations and they're
friends with a lot of cops. So they knew the world really well."
The project was set up at producer Arnon Milchan's New Regency
Productions and F. Gary Gray was soon brought on board to direct.
"I had seen 'Set It Off,' which I thought was extraordinary,"
explains Hoberman, "then I showed it to Arnon and the New
Regency executives, who loved the movie as much as I did. Like
'The Negotiator,' it was about people pushed against the wall
who had to do something illegal in order to survive.
"I thought the story of 'The Negotiator' was very fresh and
original," explains Gary Gray. "It's a film that doesn't
quite fit into a specific genre and I like that. There are a lot
of movies that are specifically action or specifically drama and,
to me, this project represents the best of both."
Gray elaborates, "Connecting the kind of large-scale, epic
action that we shot in the streets of Chicago with the character-driven
moment-by-moment drama that's going on between Danny Roman and
Chris Sabian was almost like performing surgery. It was a delicate
balance weaving these things together to make sure that one component
upstage the other. Because we have such powerful dramatic moments,
we were always careful not to have them diminished by the action."
"But beyond that," Arnon Milchan elaborates, "what's
particularly interesting is the dynamic of the arena. Hostage
negotiators have to go out instantly, without really knowing the
hostage-taker personally, become extremely intimate with that
person, get into his psychology, be able to relate to him on his
level -- and then turn him around and change his behavior. They
have to be willing to put themselves out to do that -- and that
means making themselves vulnerable."
The filmmakers all believe the strength of the material and the
dynamic of the two central characters is what attracted actors
of the caliber of Samuel L. Jackson and Kev
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