14 Things You Never Knew About 'Independence Day' on its 20th Anniversary

Independence Day was written in three weeks, pitched and approved in a few days and shot mostly in a few months

Photo: Everett

Independence Day

is having a big week. The archetypal alien invasion movie of the modern age is turning 20 and getting a sequel, all in the span of just seven days.

The original film has become a modern classic and one of those basic-cable re-runs that will appear on a random afternoon, thus forcing you to sit through it, or at least all the way to that awesome Bill Pullman speech. Because we’re all suckers for nostalgia and trivia, here are 14 things you didn’t know about Independence Day.

1. The film’s title was almost Doomsday
Screenwriters/directors/producers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were lobbying for Independence Day, but the rights to that name were held by a different studio. They tacked on the final line to Bill Pullman’s iconic speech to try and convince the studio to make a push for Independence Day instead of Doomsday – and it worked.

2. The film contains a deliberate homage to Jurassic Park

Jeff Goldblum’s character says, “Must go faster, must go faster” while he and Will Smith’s character are escaping from the alien mothership. He doesn’t actually say it onscreen, which has led to (unverified) rumors that the filmmakers loved the line from Jurassic Park so much that they dubbed it in during post-production. (That, or Goldblum ad-libbed it during Independence Day). No one’s sure.)

3. The aliens are covered in K-Y Jelly

And because they were filming in hot Las Vegas temperatures, it kept drying up. They went through a lot of K-Y.

4. The film was rushed to beat out Mars Attacks

Though the two films couldn’t be more different in tone, Devlin and Emmerich were aware of Tim Burton’s movie. They wrote the script in about three weeks, sold it the day after they finished it and completed principal filming in just 72 days during 1995.

5. The role of president was meant for Kevin Spacey

Devlin went to high school with Spacey and wrote him as the film’s president. “We literally had an argument,” Devlin told The Hollywood Reporter, “and the executive, who’s no longer there, said he just didn’t think Kevin Spacey was a movie star.” Spacey eventually got to the White House, though.

6. The film borrowed a lot of its sets
The submarine came from Crimson Tide, the stealth bomber came from Broken Arrow and the White House interior sets had been used in Nixon and The American President.

7. Jeff Goldblum improvised a lot of his dialogue

In the DVD commentary for the film, Devlin and Emmerich claim that most of Goldblum’s dialogue with Judd Hirsch (who played his father) and Smith – especially during their mission into the alien mothership – was improvised.

8. There’s a James Brown cameo in the film

Listen closely at 2:09 in that clip. There’s a tiny sample of one of James Brown’s trademark screams when the alien weapon first malfunctions that Devlin says was mixed in.

9. The much-maligned ‘virus’ plot twist is an homage to War of the Worlds
Devlin and Emmerich came up with the idea of putting a modern twist of Worlds (where invading aliens are undone by Earth’s bacteria) by having the virus be technological rather than biological. A deleted scene would have revealed that all modern Earth technology is descended from the alien craft captured at Roswell, meaning that Goldblum’s ability to craft a virus compatible with the alien’s technology is slightly more plausible.

10. The military was not pleased with the film

Originally, the U.S. military was going to supply the filmmakers with accurate costumes, vehicles and props. However, they demanded Emmerich and Devlin remove all mention of Area 51 from the film; when the pair refused, the military withdrew its support.

11. There’s also a Godzilla cameo
Vivid A. Fox’s character’s son plays with a Godzilla toy, a nod to the upcoming remake (also directed by Roland Emmerich). Plus, Independence Day toys can be seen in certain scenes of said remake, which came out in 1998.

12. It’s one of the last films to use minimal CGI

The film made extensive use of miniatures and models. Shots of the alien ships entering the atmosphere were done in a cloud tank, all the explosions were practical – including the White House explosion, which was done with a massive 1/12-scale model and required a week’s preparation.

13. The film’s big speech was filmed on a very coincidental date
Pullman’s big speech was filmed on Aug. 6, 1995, 50 years after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan. The scene was filmed in front of an Air Force hangar that once housed the Enola Gay, one of the bombers that carried out the mission.

14. The film’s ad campaign caused a real-life panic in Spain
A fake news spot in Spain caused a real-life War of the Worlds-style panic when footage of the film’s massive ships hovering over New York hit the airwaves. A label on the bottom of the screen read “advertisement,” but “apparently people can’t watch footage, listen and read at the same time,” one ad executive said.

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