AS: You worked with him on Terminator 2 3D…
JM: I got to do great stuff on that. And had very little interference from him. I built a model about as big as this table and I learned a lesson that if I ever worked with him again I would never glue anything down on a model. Cause I had all these sort of “areas” and he just started ripping things up and rearranging them. And eventually he pretty much came back to the way it was in the first place. Which he found amusing. That didn’t make him mad. He just wanted to see. Yeah, it was very foolish gluing things down with him.
It’s a pleasure to work with people like that in the movie business because there aren’t a lot of people. I think John [Hughes] was hard to work with because I think it was all in his head. I guess he didn’t trust other people. But look at Planes Trains and Automobiles– is there a better film? Is there a better comedy ever made? Jesus Christ almighty.
I’ll tell you another thing that was interesting. When I came out to Chicago and started working they always made John’s wife the bad guy. They said John’s wife will be here to look at all the sets and everything and when they saw what I was doing they said you’re going to be fired for sure. Because it didn’t look like a John Hughes movie. Cause his movies were very blue. They were very much about a particular segment of society. But I mean we were making that house like a young Italian American kid’s idea of Heaven. It’s really what it’s about. It’s totally warm. There’s nothing blue in that house. There’s nothing cold in that house. And when his wife finally saw it she was delighted. She got that we were trying to do something different.
I mean that’s Chris Columbus directing a movie he didn’t write. You know when he directs movies he writes generally they’re awful. And it was Hughes letting someone else direct one of his pieces. And those things came together in a great way on that movie. Because it was a Christmas movie and it needed to be corny. I mean even at the time I thought this movie’s really going to be something special.
AS: And then it became one of the biggest comedies of all time…
JM: It was the biggest comedy of all time for quite a long time. It might still be the biggest comedy that’s not about effects, that’s not Ghostbusters. As far as a relatively mundane, down-to earth thing it was the biggest comedy. I mean what’s any bigger? Some of the cartoons. But it is if you’re just talking about a regular film shot on stage.
You know how there are stairs that go down to the basement? He goes down and we see him flip and fall. You know that wall there and that stairway down into the basement, does anything seem odd about that?
AS: Nothing really stood out…
JM: Exactly. No one has ever done a stairway like that. Stairways that go down to a basement in snow country go down the side so they can be under the eaves. Otherwise it fills up with snow. It’s like you come up with something that’s so wrong it’s right.