John Carpenter On Turning Down ‘Top Gun’ and Possibly Returning to the Director’s Chair

John Carpenter has had a decorated career, but some of his movies weren’t exactly overnight hits. The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China, for example, took a minute to find the cult audience that worships them today. However, the director probably wanted both films to achieve that level of success and acclaim back in the 1980s.

In hindsight, it’s evident that he made the right decisions by sticking to his gut. Then again, he’s arguably made some questionable decisions during his 50-year career, such as turning down the chance to direct 1986’s Top Gun. He talked about his mindset back then in a new interview with The Daily Beast.

“I read it, and I thought, “I wouldn’t do that thing for a million bucks.” I don’t know if they were seriously considering me for the role of director on that, so I can’t say that I officially turned it down, but I read it. I thought, “What is this garbage? He fights the Russians? Come on! Stop it. If he goes off and fights the Russians, this is a huge deal!”

The Tony Scott-directed aviation actioner went on to become a mega-hit, but Carpenter doesn’t seem to have any regrets. While he assumed that the movie would be a flop after he read the script all those years ago, his concerns were more rooted in the film’s potential to cause more sour relations between America and Russia at the time. That’s admirable.

I’d also go as far as to say that Carpenter turning down Top Gun was a victory for cinema. Scott’s movie is certainly a classic in its own right, but the films that Carpenter focused his attention on instead are much better. If he chose to take to the skies, he might not have made Big Trouble In Little China, They Live, and other classics in his legendary oeuvre.

Carpenter has earned his rest, but fans of his work want to see him return to the director’s chair. Although he doesn’t appear to be in any rush to helm another feature, he did tell The Daily Beast that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making more movies.

“I’m working on a couple of things. But I’m not doing anything for a while, until the world comes back and rights itself. It’s insane now. It’s nuts! I’m not going to go out there and get sick.”

The good news is that Carpenter has continued to focus on his music career during his hiatus from Hollywood. Lost Themes III: After Death will be released on February 5, and it promises to be synth heaven.

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