Bill Pullman: My Iconic Speech Saved Independence Day From A Terrible Title

Interviews by Joe Utichi

This summer sees the release of ‘Independence Day Resurgence’, the long-awaited sequel to 1996′s ‘Independence Day’, but if things had turned out differently we may have been waiting for a movie with a totally different - and immeasurably worse - title.

Bill Pullman, the actor who plays President Thomas J. Whitmore in both films, has revealed that executives were intent on calling the film ‘Doomsday’ but it was a rough cut of his rabble-rousing “we will not go quietly into the night” speech that saved the film from an awful title.

“The urgency at the time [of shooting the speech] was that there was some talk at Fox that they wanted to call the movie ‘Doomsday’,” Pullman told Yahoo Movies on the film’s set last year.

“Dean [Devlin] and Roland [Emmerich] always wanted to call it ‘Independence Day’ and the cincture would be the speech, because once Fox saw that speech they would realise that this is what’s going to make people excited to see the movie.”

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Legend has it that Fox were looking to move the film’s release day from Independence Day (4 July) to Memorial Day (last Monday in May) hence the reason for the alternate title, but as Pullman explains, they ploughed ahead with the speech in a bid to change the studio’s minds.

“They moved the shooting [of the speech] up in the schedule, we shot all night, and they said ‘we’re going to take this right to the editing bay’, and they cut it together. And it was the next day or something - we were shooting nights - and I remember Dean [Devlin - producer] came into my trailer with the VHS, and he showed me this cut footage and I thought… ‘holy mother!’”

“Once we saw that,” adds Pullman, “We were relieved and didn’t think about it any more.”

And the rest, as they say, is history - Fox relented and stuck with Emmerich’s original title and release date - ‘Independence Day’.

Find out what’s in store from the sequel ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ - in cinemas 23 June - in our exclusive cast interview below.

Image credits: 20th Century Fox