Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his late partner Don Simpson first began developing
Enemy of the State in 1991. "It took a long time to get a screenplay," says
Bruckheimer. "We started with a simple one line idea about a man whose electronic
identity is stolen and manipulated, and asked a young writer, David Marconi to come in and
develop it with us. It grew from there to encompass the more far reaching scope of
institutionalised information gathering."
"With today's technology anything is possible and
everything is probable" Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
At the behest of Simpson and Bruckheimer, Marconi started doing extensive research.
"After a lot of investigation, I eventually was able to come up with a boogie man
– the National Security Agency, which at the time nobody had ever heard of,"
explains Marconi. "Their nickname was 'No Such Agency.' The more I dug, the less I
could find of these guys, so I realised that we had the possible making for a great story
with powerful adversaries. If you take an idea like that and marry it to a Three Days of
the Condor type of story, I thought it would turn into a good movie. Everyone at
Simpson/Bruckheimer was very supportive – they gave me a green light and, off I went
to write (the first draft of) the movie."
"I've always been interested in the inevitable questions surrounding the invasion
of privacy," notes Bruckheimer. "With today's technology anything is possible
and everything is probable. I don't think the public is truly aware of what's at stake in
terms of an individual's privacy. But the other side of the controversy remains – we
need to be able to protect our borders and our citizens. The SNA has been incredibly
active in preventing terrorist attacks and finding those responsible for the rash of
senseless bombings that have erupted recently."
Bruckheimer sent director Tony Scott one of the first drafts of the script several
years ago, and although Scott was interested in the subject matter, he initially turned
Bruckheimer down. But Bruckheimer would not take 'no' for an answer. Scott eventually
accepted. This is their fifth partnership on a motion picture.
"Tony has such a wonderful way of working with
actors" Bruckheimer on director Tony Scott
"We've had enormous success together,' says the producer of his association with
Scott, dating back to Top Gun. Tony has such a wonderful way of working with actors,
pushing them beyond their capabilities to make them even better and bringing out abilities
they never knew they possessed. He's really honed his story-telling skills and understands
the dynamics behind a screenplay; he's developed into a truly accomplished director,
rather than simply a brilliant visual artist, which of course, he is. I look forward to
doing more pictures with him in the future."
The two soft-spoken Hollywood titans have been friends for years. They have done more
than make movies together; they have created a style that has changed fads in music,
fashion, make-up and even Navy recruiting! Their four previous blockbusters include
Beverly Hills Copy II, Top gun, Days of Thunder and Crimson Tide.
"The secret to Jerry's and my relationship is that he pulls one way and I pull the
other," laughs Scott. "And somehow we come to the answer somewhere in the
middle. He has the ability to step back from the movie making process and get a sense of
the overall movie. He's amazingly articulate. We have enormous respect for one
'This would be great with Gene and Will.' Director
Scott was on the lookout for a challenging project, but he wanted to do something with
substance, something intriguing and of personal consequence. "I was always fascinated
with the idea of surveillance,' says Scott, "especially surveillance from hundreds of
miles up in the atmosphere. And I was always a big fan of Three Days of the Condor and The
Conversation, and wanted to do a movie in that genre. The real challenge was to take this
genre and re-educate the public about what goes on in the world today."
Scott is quick to point out that the concept behind the NSA and other such government
agencies, as well as the notion of comprehensive surveillance systems and invasion of
privacy, is a global one. "It's what the entire world is succumbing to today. It has
nothing to do with the American system. This could be anywhere in the world.
"It's never one thing that makes you do a film," explains the director,
"especially when it's two years out of your life and such a long haul. It's a
combination of elements or always wanting to do a movie in the genre. All of a sudden the
enthusiasm gets fired up and you think, 'This would be great with Gene and Will.' So it's
a combination of all those elements underneath an unbelievable cast that fit the roles.
That's what keeps me alive – building all these positive ideas with the script."
"Gene and Will are perfect for their roles, just in terms of their nature and
temperament," notes Scott. "Regardless of who they are in the movie, these guys
are perfect role models for the characters in the script.
"I knew he could handle something more serious," Scott
on Will Smith
"I looked at Will in Six Degrees of Separation when he was so young. And I looked
at the bits in Bad Boys, Independence Day and Men in Black, and the few times he had a
serious moment, he handled them so well and his choices during those moments were so good,
I knew he could handle something more serious," maintains Scott. "I watched him
grow, in terms of the drama, from the first week of shooting to the last. He always wanted
to take the scene and hang onto it, he always continued to pursue to get it right. He
never wanted to cop out; he always wanted to confront it. And sometimes his eagerness to
confront it made it more difficult for him – when he relaxed a bit more, he was
simply great. I know the audience is going to go away saying, 'Wow, Will really can act!'
in terms of drama."
It was not until 10 days into shooting that Smith realised he was the principal star
carrying the picture, working only limited days here and there with his fellow actors.
"I was flipping through the script to get a sense of how many days I was going to be
working," he says. "And it started to dawn on me that the weight was on my
shoulders more than ever before. This film wasn't a buddy film. It's the first time that
I've been completely out front, where the story is about my character. It's not just
physically exhausting, the emotional aspect can be equally daunting – but I might
just be getting older," he says, unable to suppress a big Will Smith smile.
"Gene is always at the top of the list for me," Producer
Pairing Will Smith with Oscar-winners Gene Hackman and Jon Voight proved to be a
creative windfall for the filmmakers. "Gene is always at the top of the list for
me," says Bruckheimer. "He's a wonderful actor. Having him around gives rise to
a more creative environment. He's very reserved and would probably be embarrassed to hear
such accolades, but he raises everybody else to his level."
Hackman was particularly attracted to the Everyman aspect of the script. "Almost
all of us has had some difficulty with governmental red tape and intrusion. I think we all
have a bit of paranoia about other people getting into our lives. What's fascinating is
that certain situations depicted in this film can really happen," states Hackman.
"The government can go to great lengths to get information from someone if they want
that information or feel it's necessary. It think we all believe this could happen to some
degree. That's what exciting about a film like this."