“I can’t tell you how much fun it is to watch this movie with this audience.”
Kurt Russell was greeting by a standing ovation by an overjoyed, extremely enthusiastic BeyondFest crowd after a screening of Big Trouble in Little China, marking the pic’s 30th anniversary debut on the big screen.
Playing to a sold out crowd at The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, Russell took part in a Q&A hosted by helmer James Gunn to talk about Big Trouble, he lengthy career and working with John Carpenter.
“I only just recently read a few of the reviews,” admitted Russell. “It’s great to see it here because some people just did not get it.”
The icon chatted about the history of the pic, which prior to its status as the greatest movie ever made in the history of everything, was a flop at the box office and despised by suits at the studio.
“It was a strange campaign to say the least. That’s a whole story unto itself. No one could figure it out. Who cares. Ifs, ands and Peter Pans,” said Russell. “I think it was 12th on opening weekend. It think it did $11 million total.”
“It wasn’t treated with any kindness by the studio. They made noise about it at the beginning. They didn’t like it, and it was treated like an ugly sister, no doubt about it.”
“I can see where your average theater goer in 1986 would say ‘What the fuck it this?,” said Gunn.
“That didn’t happen,” Russell clarified. “When they screened it, the numbers were great from the people watching it. So the audience was loving it. But they didn’t know what do with it. And there were some people who just didn’t like it. So there were some battles.”
But that was ifs, ands and Peter Pans. Thirty years later, the movie is beloved and Russell’s Jack Burton is considered one of his great cinematic characters.
“It’s all John. If you like that movie, it’s all John. We had a great relationship,” said Russell. “When a director truly has vision of what they want to do, that’s very exciting to me to show up everyday to enhance that and make it better. And I have that relationship with John. We had a lot of that in this movie.”
“Jack Burton was a rough character. We had to figure out what he was going to do every step of the way,” said Russell. “I had to come up with stuff that was right for Jack.”
“It’s great to watch the movie and hear those lines and remember how we found them.”
Gunn, who is currently working with Russell on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, took a moment to praise the actor.
“Working with Kurt is like wrestling a playful bear. He’s so upbeat. This is true. You get a chance to work with and meet an icon like Kurt and you go out there and start prep a film and you have conversations and you start to actually film, and you get afraid that the guy who’s been acting for a while and gets a big paycheck doesn’t give a shit,” said Gunn. “But with Kurt, it’s the exact opposite of that. He gives you everything. And it’s a great honor, and fun, to work with you. And he challenged me every step of the way. In the best way.”
“(Big Trouble) was one of those movies where it was just fun. We got to do something cool everyday. I love working with John. We were great friends,” continued Russell. “When you are working, you are just trying to make something tangible that doesn’t exist by the end of the day. And I can’t imagine anything more fun, can you?”
“That’s what I remember from that movie. The fun. Just a good time. Years later it’s nice to see it still has a response.”
Before the night ended, Russell left the audience with a few final thoughts on his portrayal of Jack Burton.
“And I gotta say, he’s one of my favorite characters. He’s a great and goofy guy.”