Exclusive: Roland Emmerich On ID4 Sequel

Director talks Foundation and Anonymous

Roland Emmerich’s next movie may take him back to his sci-fi roots, but the good people of Paris, New York and Washington can emerge from their shelters: it’s not going to be Independence Day 2. Despite last year’s rumours linking Will Smith with a reprise of the MacBook-wielding pilot Captain Hiller, the director has kiboshed thoughts that those aliens would be back soon. “Independence Day 2 is nowhere,” Emmerich told Empire, dismissing plot rumours that have been flying around the web. “It’s back and forth, back and forth. There’s no script because I don’t want to write anything before anything starts.”

If finding an Earth-saving sized gap in Smith’s diary is proving a stumbling block, Independence Day fans shouldn’t give up hope. With $800m in takings for the first movie, the sequel potential seems too ginormous for Fox to sniff at. In Emmerich’s words, “One day it will happen.” Back to your shelters, folks.

A much more likely option for the near future – neutrinos permitting – is Emmerich's long-gestating take on Isaac Asimov’s none-more-cerebral space odyssey, Foundation. Tweaks to Robert Rodat’s script aside, decision time is fast approaching for the CG-fuelled adaptation. Says Emmerich: “We’ve hired a production designer and it’s mainly now to find out what the movie will cost. It’ll take us until the end of March, then we’ll decide. The studio’s happy with the script, but now’s the time that the numbers count. I want to make a movie that’s very different from other science-fiction movies and I don’t want to have the burden of too big a budget."

In typically chatty form Emmerich, who recently put the finishing touches on Anonymous, also shared insights on the genesis of his Elizabethan political thriller. “Sony was very happy with the results of 2012 and wanted to keep me at the studio,” the director explained, “so I said 'Okay, do Anonymous with me.’ It’s great when you’re coming from a big movie and it feels like you reconnect with why you’re making movies. The Patriot was a different kind of movie, but similar in a way - I just like to dive into another time. We cover the Essex Rebellion so there is some action in it, but the biggest action is in Shakespeare’s plays.”

Anonymous is set in the murkily-lit corridors of Queen Elizabeth’s court and gives its own skew on the Shakespearean authorship question – one in which Shakespeare didn’t actually write any of them. It’s a theory that can set mild-mannered English teachers to quill-brandishing murder, as Emmerich and his screenwriter John Orloff are well aware. “We knew from the beginning that they’d be so many attacks on the film, so we said that we’d have to be as authentic as possible. We looked at other films and realised that filmmakers, because of a lack of money or because of the time the films were shot, they’d use what they could get.

"It was mainly churches, but who lives in a church? So we said, 'Let’s not do that – let’s be as authentic as possible with the design costumes.' Because of that we didn’t use any original locations – we built everything, because there’s very little left anyway – and we had to do it for a budget.”

Anonymous is out on September 30.