Spring Movie Preview: March 1998
'Wild Things,' 'The Object of My Affection,' and more
Starring Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Matt Billon, Denise Richards, Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, Robert Wagner
Directed by John McNaughton
As three-way sex scenes go, this one promises to be a doozy.
On a dingy set inside a dilapidated film studio on the outskirts of Miami, the actors have been preparing themselves all morning — each honing their craft in their own way. “A scene like this,” says Dillon, ruminating on the difficult job ahead, “should have a psychological dynamic to it. It should be about the taboo, about pushing the envelope. It shouldn’t just be a bunch of people rolling around on a bed.”
“A glass of wine helps,” offers Campbell.
“Tequila,” says Richards.
It wouldn’t be giving too much of this kinky thriller away to say the ménage à trois scene is the least of its tawdry twists. Set in Florida, where it filmed for three months last summer, it’s a now-you-get-it-now-you-don’t murder mystery in which nobody is what they seem and everybody has a double cross to bare. Dillon (In & Out) plays a high school guidance counselor accused of extracurricular hanky-panky with his students. Campbell (Scream, Party of Five) and Richards (Starship Troopers) are the two uninhibited coconspirators who appear to have set him up. And Bacon (Picture Perfect), revealing more of himself on screen than ever before, is the cop who gets tangled up in the case. There’s also Murray as a sleazy low-rent lawyer, Wagner as a sleazy high-rent lawyer, and Russell as a status-hungry heiress who’s also — big shock — kind of sleazy.
“When I first picked up the script,” says Bacon, who’s also executive producer on the picture, “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is the trashiest piece of crap I’ve ever read.’ But every few pages, I kept discovering that it wasn’t what it seemed. Every few pages, there was another surprise.”
The surprises weren’t limited to the script; from the beginning, the movie was plagued by unpredictable snafus. Like the day a tornado almost crushed a couple of trailers. And the night in an Everglades marsh when production had to be halted after a real dead body floated into camera range. “We called the police, and they actually grabbed the body and kept it from getting into our shot,” remembers director McNaughton.
In fact, the setbacks struck even before the cameras began rolling — during casting, for instance. Robert Downey Jr. had originally been picked for Dillon’s part — chosen for the role partially because of his well-publicized drug troubles. “It was during his rehab, and he’d just been on Diane Sawyer’s show,” explains McNaughton. “And to the people in Hollywood, that was a great career move. That made him hot.”
A little too hot for the film’s insurance bonders, who balked at covering the actor. The production company offered to put up some of the money, but “we couldn’t make it work,” says producer Rodney Liber. “There were just too many lawyers and insurance people and bond-company people involved.”