THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
Creating The World of Thomas Crown
"In the original, Thomas Crown was supposed to be from a Boston Brahmin, old money background," notes McTiernan
"In the original, Thomas Crown was supposed
to be from a Boston Brahmin, old money background," notes
McTiernan. "We changed the character to a man who'd made
money himself. He came from nowhere, got himself to Oxford on
a boxing scholarship and took that pugnacity to just pushing further.
Now, it's 20 years later, he's in his mid-forties, he's got a
fortune and he's kicked the hell out of just about everybody he's
come up against. Basically, he's out of challenges."
McTiernan found Crown's ideal territory amid the steel and concrete
canyons of New York City. The corporate headquarters of Lucent
Technologies, with panoramic views of the south harbor, Governor's
Island, Staten Island and Brooklyn, stood in for Crown's suite
of offices in Crown Towers. The entrance to Crown Towers was shot
in an unoccupied office building near the Stock Exchange. Additional
exterior filming was done throughout Manhattan's financial district.
Crown's Fifth Avenue mansion was not located on the Upper East
Side but rather in a warehouse in Yonkers. McTiernan worked with
production designer Bruno Rubeo to create just the right balance
of nouveau aristocratic elegance and idiosyncratic art connoisseur
that form the essence of the private man.
"It is not just a rich man's house," says Rubeo, an
Oscar nominee for his work on Driving Miss Daisy. "He's
a very eccentric guy with particular tastes and a particular lifestyle.
You try to come up with the right mood of colors to create that
idea. He also has a place in the Caribbean which had to be the
opposite of his place in Manhattan because that represents a different
side of his character. It's a creative process you go through
with the director and John McTiernan is a very interesting director.
He's at times mysterious but he comes up with very surprising,
brilliant ideas like nothing I have ever experienced before."
The India Club at Hanover Square served for the outside of the
National Arts Club where Crown arranges his first date with Catherine.
The interior of the National Arts Club was filmed outside the
city, in Purchase, New York, at Manhattanville College, a private
liberal arts school.
Another important interior was the Pierre Ballroom where Catherine
Banning's pursuit of Crown turns to seduction. These scenes were
shot in a marble-walled building that housed the old library at
Bronx College. The torrid dance sequence was choreographed by
John Carrafa (At First Sight, The Last Days of Disco).
The couples danced to the Latin rhythms of Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban
Orchestra. The tune for the big dance sequence may sound vaguely
familiar to anyone who remembers the original The Thomas Crown
Affair, as McTiernan selected it in affectionate tribute to
the 1968 film's Oscar-winning theme song, "The Windmills
of Your Mind."
Crown's athletic pursuits - golf, gliding and catamaran racing
- were filmed in Westchester County and Connecticut. The catamaran
race required Brosnan to take a few lessons in handling that kind
of specialized rig.
The cast and crew then flew to the Caribbean Island of Martinique
just before a Christmas hiatus to film the sequences in Crown's
secret paradise. The French-speaking resort island presented its
own unique set of challenges, including difficult-to-access locations
and vacillating weather patterns.
The greatest challenge, however, lay in the creation of the scene
of the crime. "You probably can't get permission to film
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