A recent interview with Harvey Weinstein on the Opie & Anthony Show, in which he talks about quite a few things you might find interesting to learn.
He really was on the show to push The Intouchables, but they talk about a lot more; specifically, and maybe most interestingly, Harvey reveals (something he said he’d never spoken of before) that at one time in the past, when Chris Tucker was a hot commodity (hotter than he is now anyway), he (Harvey) approached Chris with an offer to produce a stand-up comedy movie special that would have been produced by Harvey Weinstein and, even more curiously, directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Obviously, that never happened; Why? Well, Chris got a bit greedy! The original proposal Harvey made was that they’d split the profits 50/50 (Chris would get 50% all to himself, while Harvey and Tarantino would split the other 50 – or 25% each). But Chris apparently didn’t like that offer, and came back to Harvey saying he wanted 90% of the profits, which meant Harvey and Tarantino would split just 10% (or 5% each).
Of course Harvey balked at that split, and the project never happened.
Harvey laughs it off in the interview; he can afford to, because he’s certainly doing just fine years later; Chris Tucker however, not-so much (not as well as he once was). He may be wishing he’d taken that 50/50 split deal today, because I doubt that he’d get that kind of offer again – certainly not on that level, with Harvey and Tarantino involved.
But I can only imagine what that may have been like, especially with Tarantino directing.
Harvey did mention that Chris co-stars in a project he’s producing – a drama from David O. Russell titled The Silver Linings Playbook, adding that Chris does a good job in it.
Harvey also talks about the fun in working with Tarantino over the years, including, of course, Django Unchained, stating “if people think Inglorious Basterds kicked ass… Wait.” He also praises Leonardo DiCaprio’s villain, saying he’s “evil personified… brilliant, brilliant performance.” And finally added “don’t worry, we kill plenty of people in this movie… sex up the wazoo… we didn’t forget where we came from,” (with some laughter) as they talked about the dialogue in the film, seeming to comfort the hosts (and the listeners) who may have suddenly become concerned that the film would be dialogue-heavy, with little “action,” since the emphasis during the conversation was on how wonderful the dialogue was, and how well it was delivered.
Harvey also dishes on getting The Intouchables early, while it was still in the script stage (this is the original French version), falling in love with it then, and deciding to get involved in its distribution. Of course, there’s the remake in development, and he does say, as has already been reported, that for the role played by Omar Sy, they’re looking at people like Chris Rock, Chris Tucker, and Jamie Foxx. He seemed to particularly like Chris Tucker, so maybe that’s a sign we should run with… for now.
And lastly, Harvey also talked a bit about his company’s split from Disney to form The Weinstein Company, revealing that he’d taken a number of high profile projects to Michael Eisner (who was head of Disney at the time, when Harvey and his brother ran Miramax), including The Lord Of The Rings; but Eisner rejected the project (obviously Peter Jackson got to make the trilogy of films elsewhere – New Line – and they made a ton of money, won awards, so there).
However, don’t cry for Harvey because, as he states in the interview, he’d actually invested some $10 million into developing the LOTR trilogy, with the scripts already written, when he took the package to Disney/Eisner. They’d even shot test footage as well; and because of that initial investment, despite the fact that Jackson made the films with New Line, the Weinsteins still collected a percentage on the backend (he gross) and, as he says, they did “extremely well.“
I can imagine; those LOTR films collectively grossed some $3 billion at the box office, so whatever the Weinsteins’ percentage was (and it was plump enough), they would’ve collected a tidy sum. Even if their cut was 1% of the gross (although I’m betting it was higher than that) they would still have made 3 times their initial $10 million investment.
But it’s an interview worth listening to, for an *insiders* POV on things. Harvey rarely is out front and center marketing his films this way, so this was a bit of a treat. He talks about a lot more than what I’ve highlighted here.
And I’d say that it’s hard to listen to this and not feel his passion for movies. It’s evident that he not only knows movies, but he really lives, breathes and loves movies.
The full 35-minute interview follows below.