June 28 will mark the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, in which New York City police raided a Greenwich Village gay dive bar called the Stonewall Inn. It wasn’t unusual for cops to harass and even arrest customers at gay clubs in 1969 — but this time, the Stonewall’s regulars fought back. The confrontation that ensued helped spark the gay civil rights movement.
It’s currently Day 5 on the Montreal set of Stonewall, a $20 million indie about the historic riot that stars Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Match Point), and Ron Perlman (Drive). But what’s most fascinating about the project may be its director: Roland Emmerich, the gay, German-born filmmaker best known for blockbuster science-fiction and disaster epics like Independence Day, 1998’s Godzilla, and The Day After Tomorrow.
The director, who’s destroyed the White House on multiple occasionss (in his films, anyway), checked in from the set to explain his personal passion for Stonewall, and why audiences shouldn’t be too surprised by what seems like a change of pace.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the past, you’ve expressed a preference to tell “fantastic stories,” and most people know you from your sci-fi and disaster films. But Stonewall is real and grounded in history. Why Stonewall, and why now?
ROLAND EMMERICH: I was always naturally interested in the subject matter. Then, maybe two or three years ago, a couple of friends and I were kind of talking about marriage equality, and one of them said to me, “You know, Roland, you should make a gay movie.” And I’m saying, “Well, nobody wants to see a gay movie from me.” And then I kind of said, “Well, if it’s an important subject matter, then maybe they will.” At the same time, I was involved with the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, and they told me that 40 percent of all homeless youth are gay, which is a disproportionate amount. That was like the bridge to today. It’s still going on. [Gay] kids get thrown out of their homes and become homeless, and [my movie] is like a story of one of these kids who gets involved in the whole Stonewall riots, because the riots were actually kind of done by the kids. A lot of them were homeless. They were hustlers, kids who had nothing to lose. READ FULL STORY