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GN Podcast #471

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Super Mario Bros.: The Movie screenwriter goes into more detail on Dennis Hopper's tirade

A portion of a SMBMovie interview with Parker Bennett, screenwriter on the film...

RH: Yeah. There’s one thing that really needed to get across at the start of the film, which was that everything in our world needed to focus on the characters. Once you’re in the other dimension there’s not enough time to really explore them anymore as the film now has to focus more on explaining the parallel world, its society and culture and why the dimensions are split. The story had to focus on that once you’re in the second and third parts of the film. Because most of the opening was cut down the characters are kind of lacking, which makes it difficult to really care about the story once it picks up.

PB: Yeah, I don’t claim that we made the best choices-(starts laughing)-in cobbling together the movie. It’s just that, that’s what happened. And the other thing that happened was, during production, they were so far over-budget that they just needed to make cuts.

You know, we showed up on the set to just say “Hi” and see what was going on and they immediately drafted us. “It’s a good thing you’re here,” Roland Joffe [said as he] came up to us. “We just happened to need a bunch of writers!” I remember Rocky called us their “pencils.”

And so we were drafted in to just look through the script at everything that hadn’t been shot and see if we could make any cuts, anything we could trim or shorten or do less of, because they were so far over-budget.

So, we did that and we did it to the point where Dennis Hopper was hollering at me because I cut some lines of his. Like for half-an-hour he was hollering at me and made Terry and me look up the word “act” in the dictionary.


RH: (laughs) That's hilarious. Do you remember which scene that was or was it just general line-cutting? What was your interaction with Dennis after that point? I'm also curious... Did you actually look up the word "act" for him?

PB: I don’t remember the scene, but it definitely was one of his bigger speeches that we trimmed. And yes, he actually had a dictionary out and we looked it up! At that point, we were taking one for the team. Dennis needed to vent, and not that he wasn’t right. It’s just that we were told by the producers that our job was to cut, and once Dennis had committed something to memory he didn’t want to do it again. And things were very stressful at that point. When we showed up it was about halfway through the shoot and it had been a long shoot under really difficult circumstances.

They had chosen to shoot in this abandoned cement factory where The Crow had been shot, and it was just not an ideal situation. It was not air-conditioned. It was 105 degrees. The sound was really bad, so I think they wound up having to loop a lot of dialogue just because the quality of the sound; it was really echoey.

It wasn’t a comfy studio, so people were more tense. When we were there I think the actors were really just kind of… Well, I know Samantha Mathis was working on another movie at the same time. So, she was really burnt out. She was doing that country western music movie with River Phoenix [The Thing Called Love] and I think they were an item at that time. So, she was shooting on that really late and staying up late partying and coming in and if you look at the movie-(starts laughing)-she looks like she’s sleep-walking through the movie.



Make sure to check out the absolutely massive interview for all kinds of detail, and more concept art!

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