John McTiernan Talks Thomas Crown 2

'It’s really a lot of fun'

John McTiernan - shot exclusively by Austion Hargrave for Empire
John McTiernan shot exclusively for Empire at his Wyoming ranch by Austin Hargrave.

One of the unalloyed joys of Issue 300 of Empire – now available for purchase – is beleaguered director John McTiernan opening up his Wyoming ranch, and his memory banks, for an exclusive interview that spans everything from directorial landmarks like Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October to his herd of 'beefalo' and a close encounter with a rattlesnake. Within that heady mix also comes news that, while under lock and key in Yankton prison last year, he wrote a sequel to his 1999 heist flick The Thomas Crown Affair, entitled Thomas Crown And The Missing Lioness.

“Nebuchadnezzar had two lion statues commissioned in 1100BC: a male and a female,” explained McTiernan of the title’s provenance. “Alexander the Great took them when he conquered Persia. Mark Antony had them taken to Rome. Constantine moved them to Constantinople. And at some point the lioness went missing. The movie is about what happens when it turns up at an auction. By the way, it’s all bullshit; none of that ever happened.”

His original Thomas Crown Affair, of course, was a beautifully elegant caper that improved considerably on Norman Jewison’s 1968 original. It had Pierce Brosnan’s wealthy financier engaged in an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse with insurance investigator Rene Russo, style to burn and a central McGuffin, the priceless San Giorgio Maggiore At Dusk, painted by Claude Monet himself.

Whether "Mac Daddy", as he was known at Yankton, will reboot the cast or reignite that Bron’usso chemistry remains to be seen, but he’s keen to pull the trigger on the project. “It’s really a lot of fun,” he says, “and I hope I get the chance to make it.”

Another looming project for McTiernan is Red Squad, a narc thriller that’s rumoured to have Nicolas Cage and Colin Farrell attached. The project has been announced as McTiernan’s comeback and while he told Empire at the end of March that he was unhappy with the current draft, he was hard at work getting it right.

Red Squad, per the synopsis we have so far, involves a former DEA agent (presumably Cage, should he sign on) who has gone rogue and runs a team of mercenaries. Their latest mission takes them to Mexico, to take out a drug lord.

For much, much more from McTiernan, or just to find out what a beefalo is, pick up the June issue of Empire.

John McTiernan feature inside Empire Magazine issue 300