Roland Emmerich May Make Stonewall Film

About key moment in gay rights movement

Empire caught up with the always-entertaining White House Down director Roland Emmerich recently, and learned something very interesting. A routine Independence Day sequel status check (“The stars have to align a bit for that one. We have a very good script, but it’s not good enough yet.”) yielded a nugget of information about the movie Emmerich may make before launching himself into the juggernaut that is ID Forever parts 1 and 2.

“I may want to do a little movie – about $12-14 million – about the Stonewall Riots in New York,” revealed Emmerich. “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.”

If you don’t know anything about the Stonewall riots, they were a pivotal moment in the fight for gay rights, not only in the United States but across the world. On June 28, 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar (owned, interestingly enough, by the Mafia) in the East Village of New York didn’t exactly go as planned, with the clientele – many of whom were homeless gay people who had adopted the Stonewall Inn as a shelter – deciding, a la Peter Finch in Network, that they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore.

The resulting push back against the police, which lasted for a couple of days, was the inspiration for the organisation of gay rights movements in many major cities across the States at a time when gays virtually had no rights. It’s this idea that appealed to Emmerich.

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

Emmerich has a writer – playwright John Robin Bates – currently working on a 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.") that will follow a homeless gay teen who gravitates towards the Stonewall Inn and gets caught up in the riots.

“I’ve got more and more involved in the Gay & Lesbian Centre in Los Angeles,” says Emmerich, “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.

“I read a lot about it and was so surprised,” says Emmerich of the process of discovery he's undertaken on the currently untitled movie. “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.”

To read more on the Stonewall riots, visit the Wikipedia page here.