10 Things You Didn’t Know About Remo Williams
Welcome to another edition of one of our more popular features on the site, 10 Things You Didn’t Know. In this edition, I’ll be taking a look at one of my personal favorites from the year 1985, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.
After a long wait, Remo Williams got a proper Blu-ray release back in September courtesy of the folks over at Twilight Time. If you are a fan of Remo Williams this is a must have in your collection. If you know someone who is a fan of Remo Williams, the Twilight Time Blu-ray release would be the perfect gift.
Not only does Remo Williams get the high definition treatment I had been hoping for, Twilight Time went the extra mile and included several mini-docs covering all aspects of the movie from Craig Safan’s incredible music to the mysticism of Sinanju to the behind the scenes work that was done from taking the character from pulp fiction paperbacks to the big screen. And speaking of the books that inspired the film, there is even a mini-doc about the long running book series created by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy. The docs include interviews with producer Larry Spiegel, composer Craig Safan and one of the major stars of the film, Joel Grey. Really the only missing element in these special features was Fred Ward, which would have made this a perfect Blu-ray release.
Even Ward-less, the mini-docs produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures provided a ton of interesting facts and tidbits. The Twilight Time release also features a commentary track with three film historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo, Given the fact that none of the commentators were not directly involved with the project, the commentary track is not as informative as others I’ve listened to, but the trio does openly share what they loved and didn’t love about the film.
Without any further ado, allow me to share 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins…
1. A young aspiring actor, who was still working as a bartender in Manhattan after filming his first television pilot, was almost cast in the role of Remo Williams. That young actor was none other than Bruce Willis.
2. Director Guy Hamilton noted that Fred Ward did 50% more of his own stunts than any other leading man he had worked with.
3. Many of the executives who were working for Orion, the studio that was producing Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, had previously worked for United Artist. These executives had a goal to make Remo Williams an action movie franchise that would rival United Artist’s long running James Bond franchise. This is why they went with veteran Bond director Guy Hamilton and veteran Bond writer Christopher Wood.
4. It took over four hours in the makeup chair every day to transform Joel Grey into Chiun the Master of Sinanju. Carl Fullerton was the special makeup effects artist who was responsible for the transformation and his hard work did not go unnoticed. Fullerton was nominated for an Academy Award for his work.
5. Fullerton’s amazing work was also the reason Joel Grey agreed to do the movie. Grey had originally turned the role down partially because he did not want to offend the Korean population. But after Fullerton went to Joel Grey, who was vacationing in the Hamptons, and did a mock up of the Chiun makeup for Grey to show him it was possible to turn the Cleveland born actor into a Korean senior citizen.
6. In an early draft of the script there was a flashback sequence planned that would have explored Chiun’s life back in Korea. This flashback sequence never made it past the planning stages and no footage was ever shot.
7. There were plans to make multiple Remo Williams movies, hence the Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins title. When the producers were shopping the project around Hollywood, they used merchandising possibilities to make the Remo Williams franchise a more enticing project for studios. Unfortunately the sequels and the related merchandising never came to fruition.
8. The iconic Statue of Liberty scene did not happen over night. There were months worth of negotiations to get the permission to film at the actual Statue of Liberty, which was undergoing a major renovation at the time and was surrounded by scaffolding. The biggest restriction on the production, is while they could work on the scaffolding, they were not permitted to touch the actual statue itself.
9. To get around the “no touch” restriction, a life sized replica of the Statue of Liberty from the bust up was created in Mexico City (where nearly all of the non-New York City scenes were filmed) to film the scenes where Remo was actually crawling on Lady Liberty. The storyboarding and pre-planning allowed the sequence to come across as seamless despite the fact that the sequence was filmed in two different countries!
10. The legendary Dick Clark was a big part of the reason that Remo Williams was made. Clark was even a key part to the Statue of Liberty negotiations as he agreed to appear in a Statue of Liberty PSA.