Posted: Wednesday June 8, 2005 4:26PM; Updated: Friday June 10, 2005 1:32PM
SI.com: Episode IV holds among its tenets seven basic principles. Your critics, of which there are many, take special objection to the film's excess of racial stereotyping, topless women and gratuitous lesbian make-out scenes, while others argue that popular satires such as Chappelle's Show, Saturday Night Live and In Living Color in some ways aspire to this same aesthetic and--in some cases--worse. Thoughts? Reynolds: It probably is politically incorrect. In my position -- and knowing and loving the Bay Area like I do -- I'm supposed to think of all those things, and unfortunately in this case I had tunnel vision to an audience. I had a very single-minded thought and that was to deliver some messages to our players. And I had to do it in an entertaining way or they wouldn't listen. Had I anticipated this being a public viewing, certainly I would have had a different approach.
I am disappointed and upset at myself for offending people. It goes against everything that I am. That's the part that hurts.
SI.com: If you could take back one scene in the movie, which would it be? Reynolds: The George Chung scene. [My cameraman and I] went to three different businesses in Chinatown on the day we were trying to shoot that scene and tried to get some other folks to say that one line. It just played off the point that the media had been saying all along that we were going to be awful this season.
We went into a pharmacy and asked three people in there, and all of them were either shy or reluctant. We ended up going to a bank down the street and asked two more people. We almost had one do it and then she decided that her boss might get mad [if she left her station]. And then we went to a restaurant, and they weren't interested. So we tried to do it a different way. But having George Chung, who decided he wanted to do it in an ad-lib fashion, was the one that really jumped out as an offensive and a racially insensitive piece, and that was never even in the plans.
SI.com: Rare is that a film personifies the filmmaker, and it is interesting that the by-product of a work that aims to teach good PR has wrought nothing but bad press for you. What do you make of that irony? Reynolds: It really turned out to be a how-not-to without a doubt. And it all played out in front of everybody.
SI.com: In terms of financing, was it difficult to obtain? Reynolds: It was definitely a limited budget, as you can see. Didn't have a lot to pay the actors.
SI.com: What was the initial audience reaction when the film premiered at camp? Reynolds: The room erupted. There were 60 players and about 19 coaches. It was constant laughter throughout.
SI.com: What about the front office? Did they have reason to believe that they had a Passion of the Christ on their hands? Reynolds: They actually never saw it, nor did they know about it. When it was delivered to them, they were really caught off guard. It wasn't hidden from anyone; it's just always been a viewing for the team. Whoever's in that team room at that time gets to see it. It's a one-show deal.
SI.com: Are you disappointed that the movie was released? Reynolds: That it is on the Internet? That it is being widely distributed? Sure, I'm terribly disappointed because the motives involved in putting it out were very hurtful and calculating. [Most published reports credit former general manager Terry Donahue for film's untimely release. According to the Chronicle, Donahue believed Reynolds was part of the effort to get him fired. The day before Donahue was let go back in January, he showed a 30-second clip to team owner John York, hoping to bring Reynolds down with him.] There definitely was a vengeance tied into that decision.
SI.com: The movie has cost your job with the 49ers, but not necessarily your reputation as a filmmaker. Have you given any thought to going into the business fulltime? Reynolds: It's funny, apparently a player's agent was spreading that rumor, but I don't anticipate that. The few people who have weighed in a light-hearted manner have said that I'm an awful actor. So I would assume that if anything were to happen like that it definitely wouldn't be in front of the camera.