With such titles as "Top Gun," "Beverly Hills Cop," "Crimson Tide," "Enemy of the State," and "National Treasure," Bruckheimer invented the bigger, better (and noisier) modern action film and has pleased the critics with, among others, "Remember The Titans" and "Black Hawk Down."
However, no romp through the Bruckheimer canon would be complete without mention of "Pirates of the Caribbean," the hit no one saw coming (apart presumably from Jerry Bruckheimer), and its follow-up, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," not only the most successful film of 2006, but also one of the most successful films of all time. Obviously not one to rest on his considerable laurels, Bruckheimer is now waiting in the wings with the final installment of the Pirates trilogy, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" due in May.
Before that, there's "Déjà Vu," an intelligent, if not mind-boggling, action thriller starring Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer and Jim Caviezel, and directed by Tony Scott. The prolific producer talks about "Déjà Vu," in the following interview.
Question: Is it true that you bought the script for "Déjà Vu," within a couple of hours of reading it?
Jerry Bruckheimer: A bit more than that, but over the course of a weekend, yes. It was one of those of scripts you can't put down and you don't want it to end. It just grabs you and you want to find out what happens. I finished it, called the agent and said, “We gotta have this.”
Question: So what was it about the story that appealed to you?
Jerry Bruckheimer: I make movies I want to see and I like something I’ve never seen before. As well as being an unusual thriller, and having some unique action elements, it was also different from any other love story I had ever read.
Question: The plot of the film depends on the audience believing it’s possible for Denzel Washington’s character to change the course of events that have already happened. Did you worry that audiences might not buy that?
Jerry Bruckheimer: That’s one of the reasons you cast Denzel Washington [laughs]. He’s such a good actor and exudes such intelligence that you just believe what he’s saying. And he's got the movie star smile too. He lights up the screen when he shows those pearly whites. He gets you, you root for him.
Question: You have had so many hit films. Is there one ingredient they all have in common?
Jerry Bruckheimer: A good screenplay. It's the only important thing. As they used to say, “If it's not on the page, it's not on the stage”. Unless you have a great screenplay you've got a lot of problems and it's always working on the screenplays that's the hardest thing to do, that's where you lose the most brain cells.
Question: Tastes keep changing and younger audiences want something different. Do you have to work hard to keep up?
Jerry Bruckheimer: I read a lot. I read five or six papers every day, as many magazines as time allows, everything I can get my hands on about the movie business, and I watch television. I just try to keep aware of what's going on in our world. But I never try and guess what people will like. I don't know what you like, but I know what I like, so I make what I like and hopefully our tastes will coincide. So far, knock on wood, it’s worked out, but people always change and someday I'll be completely out of synch with the audience.
Question: Not with the second Pirates of the Caribbean film obviously. Did you see that coming?
Jerry Bruckheimer: It’s funny because I always look at what we did wrong. I know that we did something right; otherwise people wouldn't buy as many tickets. But I look at a finished film for how we can make it better, which is what we're trying to do with the next one.
Question: Talking of which…
Jerry Bruckheimer: You're going to ask me about Keith Richards, aren’t you? I'll answer the question beforehand: he worked for about three days and loved it, didn't want to leave, had a great time. So that's done, he's got a cameo in the picture and you will see him when the film comes out. The rest of the film? We have just one scene to shoot in January. I think it will be the best film of the three.