12 Facts About 2012

We take a journey through Roland Emmerich's disaster epic.

by | November 2, 2009 | Comments



Did the Mayans really predict, all those centuries ago, that Earth would be visited by planetary apocalypse three years from now? It’s open to interpretation — Roland Emmerich has a gargantuan disaster movie to sell and even he admits the whole 2012 theory is just, “a nice hook for the audience.” John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover are a few of the stars swept up in Emmerich’s latest cataclysmic shocker. Rotten Tomatoes meets the cast and director in Cancun, Mexico – close to the once-throbbing heart of Mayan civilisation — for a 2012 fact-finding mission.


Continue onto the next page and beware some mild spoilers as we start our journey through the world of 2012.


Fact #1: Emmerich Was Reluctant to Re-enter the Disaster Fray

“I was very reluctant. Even my friends joke with me, ‘Oh, you destroy the world again,'” admits the Teutonic helmer of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. “But when you find something you’re really good at and very successful with, then once in a while you want to do it again because it’s very easy for you to get a lot of money to make these movies. And every time you can do it a little bit better. We can do things now that we couldn’t do when we were doing Independence Day. I had this watershed moment on The Day After Tomorrow where I finally believed that you can create whole environments digitally, and I said, ‘I think I’ll do a whole movie like that.'”


Fact #2: The Mayan Calendar Really Does End in 2012

The Central American civilisation wasn’t into predictions — least of all about its own collapse — but their sophisticated ‘Long Count’ calendar does comes to the end of a cycle on December 21, 2012. Skeptics say it’s merely fodder for conspiracy theorists and cash-ins. But some New Age theorists are convinced the date will bring either cataclysm or enlightenment. “It’s fascinating that a culture which disappeared 1500 years ago would have this notion that the world would end on this exact date,” observes Emmerich. “Do I believe? Sometimes I do and then my brain says, ‘It’s ridiculous.’ But do some research and you find some other cultures say the same thing — it’s eerie.”


Fact #3: Emmerich Tripped Up the President

The production constructed a massive platform operated on a gimbal for the film’s rough-and-tumble earthquake sequences. Danny Glover, playing the US President, was the first 2012 headliner to attempt to manoeuvre his way across the ‘shaky-floor’ stage but tumbled and fell, prompting Emmerich to dial down the quake factor. “It was incredible — when this thing went, it felt really like an eight or nine point earthquake,” the director chortles. “We actually had to tone it down because people freaked out.”


Fact #4: Cusack Was Thrilled to Take the Lead

At first sight, Cusack and Emmerich make an odd Hollywood pairing. But the 43-year-old star insists he was ecstatic when the director approached him. “I liked The Patriot and Stargate,” Cusack tells RT. “For me, if I can get a big movie like this every once in a while, I’d love to do it. And then you can use that to leverage smaller movies.” Plus, he insists the script, co-written by Emmerich and Harald Klauser, took him by surprise. “In a strange way, it’s not a genre disaster movie — it’s much more elegantly written and character-based. It doesn’t follow the normal disaster movie formula.”


Fact #5: Emmerich Didn’t Touch Manhattan… Or Mecca

“I wanted to stay away from New York because I had destroyed it too many times. So I said, ‘No New York this time.'” Instead, the skyscraping metropolis pictured is Downtown LA. As for Mecca, Emmerich originally planned to dish out the same destructive pulverising to the Muslim holy site that he unleashes on the rest of the world in 2012. But he bottled it. “That’s the problem with our world. If you would destroy Mecca, I would have a fatwa on my head. So we stayed away from it.” The Vatican on the other hand? It crumbles to dust, taking out a few thousand Catholic worshippers on the way.


Fact #6: 3D Was Never an Option

“I’m not sure about 3D yet,” Emmerich tells us. “It’s different when you’re James Cameron and you have three and a half years. But we had so many scenes with actors in these situations that I thought it was probably too dangerous to shoot in 3D. I want to see Avatar, and then I’ll make a judgement. So far what I have seen in 3D was not convincing to me. Whenever I see a 3D movie, I feel like I’m on mushrooms.”


Fact #7: For Actors, Blue Screen Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare…

Cusack’s harried limo driver is subjected to fire, ash, ice, water, wind and earthquakes. But the actor insists that having to do disaster-acting in front of a giant blue drape wasn’t the tedious challenge he thought it would be, thanks to Emmerich’s insistence on building a realistic soundstage world and creating each sequence with pre-visualisation technology so he could give his actors a sense of what they were panicking about. “The sets were astonishing,” says Cusack. “When I’m on the glacier, they built a massive glacier the size of a soundstage. It wasn’t what I’ve heard it can be like, where there’s nothing to play off.”


Fact #8: …But it Often Does

“Even beyond my wildest imagination, I couldn’t perceive things to the degree that they were being perceived by Roland,” says Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays 2012‘s doomsday-predicting science boffin. “I’d go into the air force hangar and see the blue screen and think, ‘Okay, it’s a set.’ But through Roland’s eyes, it’s this huge, expansive landscape. I felt like I was watching it all for the first time when he showed the finished film to me.”


Fact #9: Thandie Newton Got Soaked

“I got drenched,” moans the Crash star, who plays the US President’s feisty daughter. “I was in wet clothes all fucking day and I’d be like, ‘Eech, I want to go home.'” In one sequence, as Newton’s art-curator character is attempting to grab her place on one of the floating Arks built to save pockets of humanity, she endured days of dampening. “The biggest effects sequence I was involved in was when we were on the Ark and it was gradually filling with water. This tidal wave came around the corner! How do they do that? When you’re doing something like that, there’s water everywhere, you’re trying to get up the ladder and it’s amazing, it’s really happening. And then, ‘Cut! Reset.’ The water gets drained through God knows where, gets put back to God knows where and we go again.”


Fact #10: Underneath That Calamity Dressing Lies Some Hefty Themes

“The disaster doesn’t get resolved,” notes Cusack. “When you see the water come over the Himalayan peaks, it’s about what you’re going to do with your final days. How do you separate the essential from the non-essential? Who’s important to you and what are you going to do with the time you have left? If it is a genre movie, it busts it wide open.”


Fact #11: The Governator Wants a Private Screening

In 2012, an unnamed Californian governor goes on telly to assure his citizens that everything’s going to be alright. In a heavy German accent. Then a monster earthquake strikes… It’s a little in-joke, although Schwarzenegger’s name is never mentioned. But Emmerich’s still nervous about showing him the film. “A good friend of his has seen the movie and told him about it. Now Arnold has invited me to his house to show him 2012 and I’m constantly saying, ‘It’s not finished yet.’ I’m a little scared.”


Fact #12: Emmerich’s A Big Softie Now

“I think my movies constantly evolve,” muses the disaster-master. “I think they’ve become more emotional and intimate; I think they have more heart now, especially this one. My all-time favourite scene of all my movies is in 2012 — it’s when John Cusack, who’s this father who pretty much fucked up his marriage and the relationship with his kids, knows that they will run out of gasoline soon in this big Antonov plane and he has to somehow tell his kids. And how he does that is an incredible, sweet and tender moment.”

2012 opens in Australia on 12th November and in the UK and the US on 13th November.

Tag Cloud

Lionsgate golden globe awards Women's History Month Character Guide Logo TCM streaming obi wan ABC Signature Mudbound spain scene in color Acorn TV The Purge binge Superheroes Amazon CMT Fantasy serial killer fresh Tomatazos period drama critic resources Video Games dc Writers Guild of America Comedy latino aliens king arthur 2015 Film award winner singing competition Ghostbusters BET live event Marvel Hulu Drama Best Director toronto Apple TV Plus Pet Sematary cartoon Action Amazon Prime Video Marathons BET Awards laika Nat Geo gangster live action sequels reboot 1990s Music Film Festival MTV series ViacomCBS Disney+ Disney Plus Awards romantic comedy Toys SXSW Paramount Plus Bravo Rock Super Bowl Disney streaming service Chernobyl marvel comics franchise interviews revenge Spring TV quibi obituary Stephen King book lord of the rings cancelled television YouTube summer TV SXSW 2022 The Arrangement National Geographic Reality DirecTV slashers boxing USA Network elevated horror Emmy Nominations blockbusters Pacific Islander The Academy Christmas strong female leads Legendary jurassic park AMC Plus tv talk WarnerMedia comedies science fiction Apple Tarantino vs. Comic-Con@Home 2021 new zealand BBC America The Witch genre Elton John TLC universal monsters children's TV Best and Worst Syfy streamig Tags: Comedy christmas movies game show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina video on demand Freeform rt archives crime thriller Turner Classic Movies young adult 94th Oscars Winners Premiere Dates football Sony Pictures YouTube Premium stop motion dexter Neflix Image Comics Crackle a nightmare on elm street adventure Trivia 71st Emmy Awards transformers Superheroe 99% ID dogs kaiju batman blaxploitation Oscar breaking bad directors Classic Film Paramount Valentine's Day GLAAD 90s posters TBS die hard CNN comic Endgame zombie Spike anthology DC streaming service Cosplay Mary poppins spanish Television Critics Association PaleyFest First Reviews psychological thriller Mindy Kaling dceu IMDb TV royal family nfl NBC Fox Searchlight PBS japanese streaming movies hist social media Biopics USA Adult Swim thriller robots Comics on TV E! justice league Pop TV black comedy slasher HBO mob movies cults HFPA twilight crime cinemax free movies olympics marvel cinematic universe zero dark thirty prank TCA Awards Universal screen actors guild Warner Bros. Vudu Certified Fresh foreign movie Rocketman travel Nominations rotten japan summer TV preview composers based on movie Amazon Prime RT History mcc 4/20 Thanksgiving 2020 Hear Us Out wonder woman Red Carpet reviews Epix dramedy jamie lee curtis indiana jones Arrowverse medical drama theme song YA Avengers El Rey Box Office CBS All Access broadcast docudrama 2016 A24 comic book movies deadpool scary parents book adaptation trailers Family CW Seed miniseries crossover Turner PlayStation rt labs critics edition The CW legend black Disney Channel Best Actress canceled TV shows 79th Golden Globes Awards women Western stoner hollywood name the review basketball Tumblr Rom-Com Black History Month Academy Awards worst movies Oscars Exclusive Video space TV movies fast and furious superman heist movie Peacock Star Wars joker cats BBC One Countdown witnail australia spy thriller Trophy Talk Election OneApp doctor who Emmys finale satire TCA 2017 all-time See It Skip It X-Men comiccon Sneak Peek richard e. Grant police drama Awards Tour Apple TV+ popular Best Picture kids 72 Emmy Awards Lifetime classics Hollywood Foreign Press Association E3 sports Marvel Studios Travel Channel Alien spanish language biopic blockbuster technology DC Comics Food Network cancelled nbcuniversal sag awards VOD animated TV Land Creative Arts Emmys BBC CBS Instagram Live dragons game of thrones telelvision Amazon Studios Hallmark Christmas movies Musical unscripted Britbox Television Academy Captain marvel Disney know your critic Calendar renewed TV shows video Shondaland cancelled TV shows 007 Wes Anderson Starz NBA Comic Book monster movies mutant President FXX Quiz diversity Sci-Fi American Society of Cinematographers Focus Features Marvel Television 2021 Reality Competition saw halloween tv mockumentary 73rd Emmy Awards LGBTQ Extras ghosts kong disaster APB supernatural SundanceTV Sony trophy cancelled TV series Song of Ice and Fire spider-verse sequel superhero First Look Interview casting New York Comic Con aapi Shudder indie RT21 adenture Mary Poppins Returns godzilla war ITV politics critics ABC Family NYCC chucky south america IFC Films cars Broadway Teen The Walt Disney Company ratings werewolf Walt Disney Pictures Trailer Crunchyroll Hallmark Prime Video new york hidden camera MSNBC HBO Max Animation nature 2017 television Country MGM TCA Winter 2020 Sundance Lifetime Christmas movies child's play Ovation Esquire comic book movie GoT green book scorecard Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt best Spectrum Originals rom-coms dark cooking Brie Larson leaderboard Set visit YouTube Red Horror emmy awards political drama Paramount Pictures Baby Yoda independent archives Ellie Kemper comic books Pirates Tokyo Olympics Polls and Games South by Southwest Film Festival halloween Pop GIFs documentaries Opinion 45 Pixar spinoff sitcom pirates of the caribbean international Binge Guide TIFF DGA Sundance Now discovery TNT biography Sundance TV VICE Best Actor stand-up comedy feel good toy story news 20th Century Fox films TruTV WGN IFC Masterpiece new star wars movies Musicals versus hispanic screenings TV renewals Lucasfilm festivals romance Comedy Central Kids & Family art house Cartoon Network Showtime OWN Holiday dreamworks Netflix MCU debate docuseries BAFTA golden globes zombies 2019 Nickelodeon Infographic Tubi Summer french FX Podcast criterion psycho sopranos Fox News boxoffice SDCC 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards asian-american comics festival TCA Universal Pictures Mary Tyler Moore 2018 action-comedy DC Universe VH1 anime what to watch Schedule rotten movies we love Pride Month Cannes suspense mission: impossible ABC Year in Review ESPN 21st Century Fox remakes Photos AMC Fall TV Paramount Network 93rd Oscars Star Trek Fargo Watching Series canceled Funimation History italian teaser A&E Disney Plus LGBT FOX TV razzies Mystery HBO Go cops Holidays concert Columbia Pictures hispanic heritage month Netflix Christmas movies 24 frames Black Mirror Grammys king kong high school summer preview TV One San Diego Comic-Con scary movies target Martial Arts Rocky worst true crime FX on Hulu Anna Paquin venice rt labs Dark Horse Comics natural history facebook talk show Winter TV crime drama documentary The Walking Dead harry potter historical drama spider-man james bond adaptation Heroines Discovery Channel vampires