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Director Stephen Sommers Shares Memories of ‘The Mummy’ 25th Anniversary

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– “The Mummy” director Stephen Sommers reflects on casting decisions, including Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, and dismisses the rumor of Sylvester Stallone being offered the lead role during the film’s 25th anniversary interview.
– Sommers shares memories of on-set challenges, including sandstorms and a stunt mishap involving Fraser, celebrates the film’s unexpected success following a Super Bowl ad, and expresses his disconnection from the Tom Cruise-led reboot and the third Mummy installment.

Stephen Sommers, the celebrated director of “The Mummy,” is bringing back to life the vibrant recollections of the 1999 blockbuster as it reaches its 25th year. The film, which cast Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in the leading roles, became a major hit following its May 7, 1999, release by Universal Pictures. The movie not only charmed audiences worldwide, amassing an impressive 400+ million at the global box office but also sparked a sequel-triggering craze, including a Dwayne Johnson-led prequel “The Scorpion King.”

“The Mummy” cemented Fraser’s standing as a leading man after his success in “Encino Man” and “George of the Jungle,” portraying Rick O’Connell, an intrepid explorer. For Weisz, her role as Evelyn Carnahan was a career-defining opportunity, setting her on the path to become the esteemed actress she is today. Their on-screen battle against a resurrected Egyptian priest riveted audiences and turned the film into a perennial favorite, evidenced by the substantial residual checks Sommers mentions with a touch of humor.

Sommers detailed to The Hollywood Reporter the personal journey that led him to direct “The Mummy.” Fascinated by Universal’s 1932 classic starring Boris Karloff at the tender age of eight, Sommers grabbed the chance to reimagine the story when Universal struggled to update it. His passion-driven pitch and subsequent green light from the studio carved the path for what would become a cherished cinematic adventure.

Sommers shared how his vision for casting, unburdened by the contemporary stardom of names like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt, centered around Fraser’s unique mix of robust charm and human warmth. Weisz, with her English elegance, was Sommers’ uncompromising choice, dissuading the studio from its initial leaning towards American actresses. The casting of Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bay, initially conceived for an older Black actor, underscores Sommers’ willingness to adapt and embrace unexpected talent.

Moreover, Sommers recounted on-set experiences such as dealing with intense heat and sandstorms in the backdrop of the Sahara, and Fraser’s wholehearted commitment to perform his own stunts. An instance of how that dedication once led to an alarming stunt gone wrong, briefly rendering Fraser unconscious, underscores the authenticity and peril entwined in the making of action films.

Reflecting on the pivotal role played by a Super Bowl commercial in turning the tide of public interest toward the film and the serendipitous success of its opening weekend, Sommers carries us through the euphoric aftermath of a director watching his work being universally embraced. Despite declining to direct the third installment, Sommers regards the first two films with pride, emphasizing the challenge inherent in crafting a trilogy.

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Although Sommers expressed a sense of neglect from the creative forces behind the 2017 Tom Cruise reboot for not extending a professional courtesy, his sentiment towards a potential reprise involving the original cast remains open yet cautiously optimistic. Finally, acknowledging the impact “The Mummy Returns” had on boosting Dwayne Johnson’s burgeoning film career underlines Sommers’ inadvertent but significant role in shaping the trajectory of one Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Reflecting on the celebrated action-adventure “The Mummy,” its journey from nostalgic inspiration to box office triumph encapsulates the unpredictable magic of filmmaking. A blend of an ardent director, a dedicated cast, and the allure of ancient legends can indeed forge cinematic history, enthralling audiences for decades and remarking on the enduring lure of storytelling on the silver screen.

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