The 1998 erotic thriller “Wild Things,” which celebrates its 25th anniversary today, was almost a different movie for a number of reasons.
The film’s director John McNaughton revealed new details about the production, including a twist on the characters of Matt Dillon and Kevin Bacon.
“Wild Things” has Dillon running an extortion scheme with high school students played by Neve Campbell and Denise Richards, right under the nose of Bacon’s police detective character.
In the third act, however, it has been revealed that Dillon and Bacon were the accompanists. And in a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment, McNaughton said they were more than partners in crime. In the script written by Stephen Peters, there was supposed to be a shower scene that would also reveal them as lovers.
Kevin Bacon, Denise Richards, Neve Campbell and Matt Dillon in a publicity still for the movie “Wild Things” in 1998. (Columbia Pictures)
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The director told the outlet, “In the original version of the scene, Matt goes into his bathroom to take a shower and there’s Kevin. They were supposed to look each other up and down and then walk away.”
However, McNaughton said that before the cameras rolled, one of the actors made it clear that he did not want to film the scene, and that element of the plot was removed.
He doesn’t specify which actor he was cast against, but as a director, he took it easy.
“I love surprise, and I love things that I don’t see coming,” he said. “But at that point it was, ‘You win some, you lose some; we’re moving on.'”
Both Bacon and Dillon have discussed the scene left in previous interviews.
In 2005, Bacon told Total Film that he thought the appearance was “great”, but blamed the film’s financiers for canceling the scene, saying, “(They) didn’t like the idea of doing men.”
Dillon also spoke separately to Total Films in 2005, admitting, “I worked on getting that scene out.” He also said, “Kevin seemed pretty attached, though!”
Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon and Denise Richards in the film “Wild Things” released on March 20, 1998. (Columbia Pictures)
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Despite the cancellation of the sexual relationship between Bacon and Dillon’s characters, the audience is in for an unexpected surprise in the shower scene. Bacon turns to talk to Dillon and reveals a brief moment of complete nudity.
The director insists that the camera was an unexpected moment. “The idea was that Matt would grab a towel and throw it at him,” he recalled. “We took so many that you never saw Kevin’s full front. But around the eighth, the towel didn’t work. Matt threw it, and Kevin missed, so there he was in all his glory!”
He did not intend to use this design until his longtime editor, Elena Maganini, argued that it should be used in the film, citing the equity of nudity between the male and female actors.
“I went to see our final cut, and there was Take 8 of that scene, it shouldn’t have been there. ‘Elena, we can’t use that take.’ And she said, ‘It’s not fair! You have scene after scene of topless girls. This is it for us.”
Bacon agreed to include her nudity, according to McNaughton.
“Kevin was friends with ‘Wild Things’ producer Steve Jones, so he called him and asked if he could use that take. What I heard from Steve is that Kevin asked, ‘How am I doing?’ Steve said, ‘You look good,’ and Kevin said, ‘No problem.’ He’s not a particularly honest guy,” she said.
McNaughton told Yahoo Entertainment that there are still hints about the true nature of the character’s relationship in the final cut, specifically a bar scene that plays out during the film’s credits.
Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon together in 2006. His characters originally had a sex scene in “Wild Things,” but the director says one of them decided not to take part in the scene. (Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Turner)
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The film is famous for a different same-sex session between Campbell and Richards, as well as a later threesome between the girls and Dillon.
McNaughton admitted that if the film was made today, there would be an intimacy coordinator on set for the sex scenes, but he doesn’t quibble with the concept.
“I haven’t worked with an intimacy coordinator yet,” she said. “It’s like when you get a dialect coach: some of these people can be control freaks, which is terrible for a director. But if you get a good one I’m sure it’s fine.”
However, he admitted that the overall content of the story, about two underage high school girls having sex with their guidance counselor, would be more difficult for studios today.
“It’s impossible to know for sure, but probably not,” McNaughton said of the possibility of making the same film now. “Maybe in 20 years, the pendulum will swing back, but now it’s pretty far in the other direction.”
He added, “I will say that we played it for the whimsical aspect, but also for the fun. You go to movies like ‘Wild Things’ to see that kind of story telling, and I didn’t want to go back. When I read the script, the only thing that really clicked for me was the human behavior. ; even though this all seems like it, I felt like it could actually happen. Especially in a place like South Florida!”
Denise Richards and Neve Campbell at the 1998 MTV Movie Awards. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc.)
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Apparently, the casting change was significant.
According to the director, Robert Downey Jr. he was almost cast in the role of Dillon, but his addiction and legal problems at the time made him reluctant to hire the studio.
McNaughton also says that the actor was difficult to reach at the time because of his patronage.
“He had this real character as a backer who, as is often the case in Hollywood, had a little more control over Downey’s movements than he probably should have,” McNaughton said. “Downey was in Savannah, and we were in Miami, and the insurance company wanted a lot of money to insure him, and the studio wasn’t happy. So I said, ‘I’m going to Savannah and make sure everything’s cool, and then we can move on.'” . But his middleman kept screwing up! I was getting ready to get on the plane, and I couldn’t finish the meeting, so the studio said, ‘We’re going with Matt Dillon.'”
Robert Downey Jr. he was almost cast in Matt Dillon’s film role, but his legal and addiction problems at the time made the studio hesitate. (Kimberly White)
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Regardless, McNaughton is happy with the casting as it happened.
“As my dear mother used to say: ‘Everything happens for a reason'”, said the director. “Matt was a better choice for that particular role.”
“Wild Things” grossed $30 million in its theatrical run and spawned direct-to-video sequels, in which McNaughton was not involved.
The film was described as “trash” by many critics upon its release, but has ultimately found life as a cult classic.
Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, Denise Richards and Bill Murray together at the 1998 premiere of the movie “Wild Things”. (SGranitz/WireImage)
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McNaughton summed it up: “I was trying to make a commercial film and there are two elements that make a commercial film: sex and violence,” he said. “So with ‘Wild Things,’ I said, ‘OK, America, you want sex and you want violence — here you go! How much can you take?'”