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John Carpenter Wanted to Quit Hollywood After ‘Horror Show’ of ‘Memoirs of an Invisible Man’

"He shall not be named who needs to be killed," Carpenter said of an unnamed diva on the 1992 box office flop starring Chevy Chase.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 28:  Director John Carpenter attends the screening of 'Scarface'' during day 3 of the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival on April 28, 2018 in Hollywood, California. 350671.  (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM)

John Carpenter

Getty Images for TCM

John Carpenter prefers to experience horror onscreen, not on set.

The legendary director, while reflecting on his decades-spanning career, admitted that he nearly walked away from filmmaking after the experience of 1992’s “Memoirs of an Invisible Man.” Based on H. F. Saint’s 1987 science fiction novel, the film starred Chevy Chase as a businessman who becomes invisible after an experimental procedure. Frequent Carpenter collaborator Sam Neill plays a government operative who tries to capture Chase’s character. Daryl Hannah, Michael McKean, and Stephen Tobolowsky also star.

“Chevy Chase, Sam Neill — who I love and had a longtime friendship with — and Warner Bros., I worked for them, and it was pleasant,” Carpenter told Variety, before adding, “No, it wasn’t pleasant at all. I’m lying to you. It was a horror show. I really wanted to quit the business after that movie.”

Carpenter continued, “God, I don’t want to talk about why, but let’s just say there were personalities on that film. He shall not be named who needs to be killed. No, no, no, that’s terrible. He needs to be set on fire. No, no, no. Anyway, it’s all fine. I survived it.”

While not naming that individual, the “Halloween” auteur then clarified that Neill, for one, is a “terrific actor, I love working with him” and compared Neill’s acting style to that of Kurt Russell. “He comes prepared. He knows what he’s going to do,” Carpenter said. “He reacts to other actors who are there. I mean, he’s just a dream come true.”

“Memoirs of an Invisible Man” was a box office flop, making $14.4 million against a $40 million budget.

While Carpenter did not name actor Chase as the source of his bad experience helming the film, screenwriter William Goldman (“Princess Bride”) at the time confirmed that Carpenter was brought on board only after Chase butted heads with original director Ivan Reitman.

Chase more recently was revealed to have allegedly made racist comments toward “Community” co-star Donald Glover, who later went on to create the critically acclaimed FX series “Atlanta.” Chase is not expected to reprise his role for the upcoming “Community” Peacock film, with series creator Dan Harmon wondering if it’s “even legal” for Chase to come back.

“Chevy was the first to realize how immensely gifted Donald was, and the way he expressed his jealousy was to try to throw Donald off,” Harmon told The New Yorker in 2018 over Chase’s alleged racism towards Glover. “I remember apologizing to Donald after a particularly rough night of Chevy’s non-P.C. verbiage, and Donald said, ‘I don’t even worry about it.'”

Chase said in February 2022 that he doesn’t “give a crap” about the rumors swirling around his “Community” exit after four seasons on the series. “I am who I am. And I like where— who I am. I don’t care. And it’s part of me that I don’t care,” Chase said on CBS’ “Sunday Morning.” “And I’ve thought about that a lot. And I don’t know what to tell you, man. I just don’t care.”

Chase was also not asked to return for “Confess, Fletch,” a reimagined revival of the novel adaptation that previously starred him.

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