They are one of the most legendary actor/director partnerships of all time – the duo behind Escape From New York, The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China, to name but three. They are, of course, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell, and we’ve reunited them in the new issue of Empire (on sale this Thursday).
It’s been 17 years since they last worked together, on their second Snake Plissken movie, Escape From LA, and about four or five since the old friends were in the same room. So they were naturally overjoyed to see each other at our photoshoot in LA on March 7, quickly slipping into the old routine and, over the course of two hours, unleashing a stream of astonishing anecdotes and, particularly in Russell’s case, room-shaking laughter. “We just have a good time together, as you can see,” explains Carpenter. “We make each other laugh a lot.”
Pick up the new issue of Empire for the full Carpenter/Russell story, including never-heard-before and often hilarious tales of the gruelling making of their masterpiece The Thing, including a hair-raising near-death experience for Russell and the rest of the cast before filming had even begun; the marketing disasters that put paid to Big Trouble In Little China; and the magnificent genesis of Snake Plissken.
The interview took place a week or so before news of the Snake Plissken/Escape From New York reboot, with which neither Carpenter or Russell are involved. But we did ask them both about the prospect of a third Escape From… movie, which we can now bring to you exclusively.
“Could I do it again?” asks Russell, shaking his head. “No.”. Carpenter interjects: “He could do Old Snake.” Russell sighs. “I never wanted to do Snake old.” “Why not?” asks Carpenter. “If you’re going to do him,” expands Russell, “do him young. He’s one of those guys.”
Carpenter nods. “They got people working on trying to put together Escape From New York, and they don’t know where they’re going with it.” Russell laughs, heartily. “It’s been done! Guess what, guys, it’s been done. And there’s nothing wrong with it. But what you need now is what John told them then: you need a good young guy who gets the character.”
It’s far too early in the process for the Snake reboot to tell who that might be, but Gerard Butler, who was once linked with the role, seems out of the picture. Russell once famously said that he didn’t think Butler was right for the role, something he was keen to clarify during our interview.
“There are two guys who really do know Snake Plissken and the Escape world,” says Russell. “Number one, John. Number two, me. When it comes to Snake, I can tell you one thing... he’s American. It’s really important that he’s American. There’s a reason why that great fight in the arena [in Escape From New York] is with a baseball bat. That’s American, OK? He knows what he’s doing with that bat in his hand! I thought Gerard Butler was great in 300.
“The problem is not Snake, you can find a good Snake,” continues Russell, before unveiling his grand plan for the franchise. “You gotta get John Carpenter. Escape From New York is just weird because of the way he sees the world, man. He sees it slightly off. It’s his world, it’s a night world. This is his thing.”
To read more from Kurt Russell and John Carpenter, and to see more amazing shots from our reunion photoshoot, pick up the new issue of Empire (with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek on the cover), on sale Thursday for print and iPad.