'Die Hard's' John McTiernan breaks silence
EXCLUSIVE: Newly sentenced, he talks prison, comeback"Die Hard" director John McTiernan was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $100,000 on Monday for lying during the wiretapping investigation of Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano and about his involvement in the wiretapping of producer Charles Roven. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer gave a stinging rebuke from the bench before sentencing McTiernan, saying "the defendant doesn't feel the law applies to him." McTiernan declined the opportunity to address the court or speak with reporters outside the courtroom, but free pending an appeal, he spoke to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Hollywood Reporter: You were given the opportunity to speak before sentencing, but you chose not to. Why?
John McTiernan: My lawyers said that if I said one thing that's really on my mind, than they could guarantee that I was going to prison right now. I was all prepared. They spent basically 36 hours pleading with me. [I was told,] ‘You'll feel good for about five minutes, and then you'll curse yourself for a long time afterwards."
THR: What would you have said?
McTiernan: I'm not saying anything. There wasn't any point in saying anything in that venue; that venue wasn't listening.
THR: There were pointed comments from the bench about not eating "aged cheese and fine wine" in prison. Where did that come from?
McTiernan: [Fischer] was trying to ridicule me. I take a very heavy-duty anti-depressant; I've lived on it for 35 years, and it has heavy dietary restrictions. And what they did was take the silliest of them and put them in. It was some ridicule the prosecution had put in their papers, and she just repeated it over.
THR: You'll be appealing?
McTiernan: We're already filing the papers. I've already paid the appeals lawyer.
THR: Are you optimistic that you will not serve the sentence?
McTiernan: I didn't start this because I was afraid to go to jail. It would have been much easier to go to jail. And less expensive. And some of the minimum-security prison camps are not bad, and there are actually interesting people there. And I have managed to live my life not being too afraid of new experiences, including going off to a federal prison for four months. That isn't why I started this fight. I started because these people have less respect for the law than they accuse me of having.
THR: You don't deny the wiretap?
McTiernan: I don't deny any of the facts of the case anytime I knew who I was talking to.
THR: But your lawyers point out this was an aberration of your character. Do you agree?
McTiernan: I don't think that's for me to say. Other people can make of my character what they will. Mostly right now they are making shit of it and saying that defending myself is ridiculous.
THR: Have you ever apologized to Roven?
McTiernan: My lawyers didn't want me to. I wrote an apology to him a long time ago, but my lawyers don't want me to send it.
THR: You haven't made a film since 2003? Why?
McTiernan: I had worked for two years on one, and then all of this came up just as we were about to start it. That was the airplane pilot movie; I cannot recall the name. This has destroyed three other films. Just on the insurance issue. For insurance on a movie, they need you to be able to guarantee 18 months.
THR: What's the latest on the action film "Shrapnel"?
McTiernan: That's really up to the financiers and the producers. So far they have been very supportive. They are planning on starting late next spring.
THR: Pending appeal?
McTiernan: It's pending all sorts of things. One never knows with a movie.
THR: This is the story of two veterans fighting each other in a war game. Was that appealing on a subconscious level?
McTiernan: No, come on. It's just a good script. We're making it more contemporary. Right now we have two guys in World War II. We're going more modern, probably the Gulf War.
THR: How important is it for you to make a return to Hollywood?
McTiernan: I have no idea, and it's not on my mind. I know it makes me a good story to make me an old boxer or something. Or a 47-year-old quarterback trying for one more season. This all has changed my attitude about stuff. There are several good movies I would like to
make, but the possibility of not making them anymore and getting used to that and seeing what you care about or not — it hasn't been the worst experience in the world. On Hollywood, I haven't been in the Hollywood mix in a long time. I moved a long time ago. I hate to tell you this, [but] I've never read the trades.
THR: How much do you miss moviemaking?
McTiernan: I am perfectly happy to not work on bad movies. I'm perfectly happy to do without the money. Yes, there are loads of disappointments about it. I can't say this has been like a visit to a monastery for five years or anything. But to some extent, it has made it easier to keep straight what was important and what was nonsense.
THR: What would you tell a young McTiernan? Would you give advice?
McTiernan: I wouldn't try. You can't tell filmmakers anything, no matter what stage of life they are in. If you could, they wouldn't be film directors.
THR: At what point do you stop with the appeals?
McTiernan: We don't stop. At a certain point, someone brings a fight to you, and you wind up in the middle of it. I don't know when to stop. I'm not sure in something like this you do. You go as long as you can.