Roland Emmerich may make a movie about Stonewall. And then probably blow it up

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When you think of the name Roland Emmerich, you probably immediately stop thinking as your brain is consumed by images of stuff being blown up real good. Just like his contemporary, Michael Bay, the German born director has made a career out of melting our eyeballs (and brain cells) with big budget film spectacles. But also, just like Bay is doing with Pain & Gain, Emmerich will be toning his disastrous tendencies down for his next film, which will deal with the Stonewall gay rights riots of 1969.

RolandEmmerich_StonewallRiots

Empire caught up with the director to find out about the progress of the Indepence Day sequels, where he revealed that “the stars have to align a bit for that one. We have a very good script, but it’s not good enough yet,” which meant that he had some free time now to pursue a much smaller project first.

“I may want to do a little movie – about $12-14 million – about the Stonewall Riots in New York. It’s about these crazy kids in New York, and a country bumpkin who gets into their gang, and at the end they start this riot and change the world.”

The Stonewall Riots were a key moment in the fight for gay rights, at a time when they had very little if any civil rights. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in New York, which also served as a makeshift shelter for quite a number of gay homeless folk. It just so happened to also be owned by the Mafia. When the police raided the Stonewall, these gay homeless folk decided that they were no longer going to be pushed around by the police and fought back. And boy did they ever fight back. The initial conflict escalated into a riot that lasted for days, and which would go on to serve as the spark for various gay rights movements across the USA.

Now for those of you that didn’t know about the Stonewall Riots – and I will admit that up until last night I was one of those – don’t feel too bad, because as Emmerich – who has been openly gay for years – explains very few people actually do, including the very people whose rights were being fought for.

“It’s one of these civil rights moments, like Rosa Parks. And [yet] very little is known about it. Even gay people don’t know much about it. There are only two books written about it.”

“I read a lot about it and was so surprised. It was the first time that gay people had shown the police that they should take them serious. And when the riot police came – this has always been fascinating for me – these kids formed a chorus line and sang ‘We are the village girls, we wear our hair in curls!’ It was such a cool thing.”

Besides for just highlighting a very poorly explored moment in history, Emmerich explained that the film would still be very topical today.

“I’ve got more and more involved in the Gay & Lesbian Centre in Los Angeles and I learned that 40% of homeless kids are gay. So things haven’t changed very much. But I put this together and said, I should make a movie about that, so it starts with a kid who gets thrown out of his home and ends up on the streets of the village, and becomes friends with all these kids. In a weird way, it shows that it’s still something that happens today.

To tell the story of this young gay teen who finds himself in the Stonewall Inn and getting caught up in the riot, Emmerich has brought playwright John Robin Bates on board, who is apparently already busy with the script.

“I’m going to New York after this to stand next to the writer, who owes me twenty more pages! But he’s a great writer.”

There’s no timeline yet to when those extra twenty pages, and thus the entire movie, will be done, but in the meantime for some vintage Emmerich explodey action, the director’s White House Down (you know, the other “terrorists take over the White House movie) will soon have Channing Tatum doing his best John McClane impersonation when it releases on June 28, 2013.

Last Updated: April 22, 2013

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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