VERY FIRST TEST
SCREENING OF ROLLERBALL
- Would you mind answering some questions for me, about the ROLLERBALL roughcut you saw at a test screening in Las Vegas (Nevada), back in may 2001?
- I can try. It was a while ago, but ask away.
OK. Let's start with... the end. What can you tell me about the original ending
(I mean, the very last minutes) of ROLLERBALL? It was allegedly modified in
the final version.
- Yes, the [original] ending was a little different. Chaos took over in the Rollerball stadium, and people started to riot (I seem to recall one of the Russian guys yelling about his son disappearing) and the guards turned on them and started shooting and, then, all hell broke loose. Then, in one of the back rooms, Jean Reno was with his henchman (the East Indian man, can't remember his name), as the tables are turning, and it was he, and not Jonathan, that killed Jean Reno (he shot him). But... I think Jonathan was there. Then, the final scene was on an airplane. Jonathan and Aurora were getting on a plane, for America, with the new head of Rollerball (the East Indian man), and [Jonathan] said something to the effect of he'll continue playing the game but he wants it completely changed and also wants part ownership of the franchise. Something like that. I really dug it when I saw it, but thought they really pulled it together a lot better in the [final] version I saw at the theater.
So, basically, in the final cut, at the end, we have to assume that Rollerball
(the game) is over and dead, and that Jonathan will probably stay with Aurora
in her country, whereas in the test version, we had to assume that Rollerbal
will finally be played in the United States (like Petrovich wanted), but with
less violent rules, and that Jonathan will continue to play it. Right?
- Not 100% sure of it being played in the States, but the game will continue, with new rules, and Jonathan will be part owner, yes.
I would like you to see these two pictures. They seem to fit with your description
of the original ending...
- Yes. That second shot is DEFINITELY them on the plane, in the final moments of the test version. The first shot looks like them coming out of the arena. In fact, I think Aurora got pretty banged up in the Rollerball match. I'm getting confused if it was in the test version or the final cut, but she was targeted to be killed after getting traded to the other team. And was then saved by Jonathan.
That's interesting: in the final cut, Aurora is not really banged up, and
it's Jonathan who is targeted to be killed. Aurora steals a motorcycle from
one of her team member (yellow team) and uses it to charge at Jonathan, and
when they are lying on the ground, she tells him to quit. But he doesn't listen
to her and goes on with the game. Then she is caught by the guy whose bike
she had stolen, then taken out of the game and tied up...
- I am pretty certain that Aurora was meant to be killed in the test version, as a message to Jonathan. But, then, he saved her. I think she might have helped him in the test version, but I don't think she was taken away and tied up. In the test version, she got banged up, but was essentially OK.
I remember some script
review of an early draft of ROLLERBALL mentioning an "ending where
[Jonathan and Aurora] fly off in their little plane, into the sunset
together, waving back at the burning country." Does this match with
the final shot of the test version you saw?
- Not precisely... In the version I saw, the main action happens on the plane before it takes off, as Jonathan is negotiating with the Eastern guy. I think they do fly away, but not happily. And Aurora is very concerned about her people, so it wasn't like they were abandoning them.
The escape to the airplane is definitely not in the final cut. Here is how
the final cut ends: Jonathan throws the ball into the window of the official
booth (this is seen in the theatrical trailer; wasn't this shot in the test
version too?) then hits 2 henchmen with it, then another one in some backstairs
(with a small round table), then he finds Reno who has escaped downstairs,
into some private room. Reno fires at him with a shotgun, Jonathan uses the
table to protect himself from the bullets, then Reno is killed by Jonathan
(who hits him angrily several times with the small round table). Then Jonathan
kills the Eastern guy with Reno's (semi-broken) shotgun, then collapses on
some pool table. When he wakes up, Aurora is here, and she helps him to get
out of the stadium through some corridor, where people are rioting. They go
to the back of some truck, and she says something like "I'll take
you to a doctor, then in my bed". The image freezes on Jonathan's
face. Fade to black...
- I don't believe Jonathan throwed the ball at the window in the test version. I think that was added, possibly during reshoots. I remember, in the final cut, doesn't he hit Jean Reno with it?
Well, sort of... Jean Reno is hit (behind the window) by the ball (but that's
not very clear), THEN he gets out downstairs while Jonathan is fighting with
- That definitely wasn't in the test version. Reno didn't get hit. That, I'm pretty sure about, because I remember seeing the movie in the theater after it opened and remarking to myself that this was new! I think maybe Jean Reno got out of there before Jonathan throwed the ball? In the test version, mayhem erupted in the Rollerball arena near the end of the game, as Jonathan was getting his ass kicked but still fighting. He might have exchanged words with Jean Reno, but I can't remember... Ack, sorry! But I think this was all new. In the version I saw, Jean Reno is going to get away as people riot in the stadium and outside. He's in some corridor (or maybe it was that room), with the Eastern guy, and says something witty about how Rollerball will continue being the way it is, only more popular, or something like that, and the Eastern guy shoots him. Jonathan somehow gets out, but it wasn't the same [than] in the final version. It wasn't like he and Aurora escaped. I think it was more like he was overwhelmed by the crowd as a hero...
Well, in fact, this idea is still in the final cut. There is one line from
Aurora, when they are escaping in the corridor at the end, where she says
"These people, now they see you as their hero, because you killed
the monster", or something like that... But that's pretty much it.
- Jonathan definitely defies Reno, and the feeling is that Rollerball is over, or at least Reno's control of it, but it was definitely the Eastern guy who killed Reno with a gun in the test version.
Now, you mentioned earlier a "Russian guy, yelling about his son disappearing".
Was his son a Rollerbal player (killed during the game)? Or was he in the
crowd, with his father? (Then, how was he killed?)
- No, [the] son was a Rollerball player. The character is in the final movie: [it's] the big Russian guy who first floats the conspiracy theory to Jonathan. He came from a family of miners and all the miners showed up at the Rollerball match. I'm sorry, but I can't remember if [he] got killed in the game or got sent off to the gulag or something, but it was his father and his father's miner friends who started the revolt in the Rollerball arena.
Let's see if I got this right: you mean the big Russian guy ("Denekin",
played by Oleg Taktarov) was the son of another older man in the crowd, right?
There is an older bearded man like that, in the final cut, amongst the miners
in the crowd, who seems to be related to Denekin in some way. Earlier in the
movie, this man is seen with Denekin in the strip-club scene, but, in the
final cut, when Denekin addresses to him, he says "my gipsy brother"
(?), so I figured out they were only buddies from the old times (back from
when Denekin was still a miner) or maybe brothers. But, they perhaps made
the father a brother in the final cut?
- OK, maybe I got the dad/brother thing confused. It could have been his brother. BUT, in the test version, I'm pretty sure Denekin's gone already and his brother and buddies show up because they're angry. Either that or he gets killed during the game and they start to riot because of it. I'm pretty certain that they are the ones that start the riot in the test version.
In the final cut, Denekin is shot by a guard, then the people start to yell
"Jonathan! Jonathan! Jonathan!". It's actually pretty strange...
But I think you are right about the dad thing, because I have read in another
test screening review
that: "There are several laughable scenes in the film - one having
to do with a proud FATHER's reaction immediately after his SON is murdered,
another being Klein's final lines which it seems McT instructed him to be
serious, brooding, and deep toned - anyway you see it, the audience just laughed."
By the way, were these two scenes laughed at, during the test version you
- Seriously, the way I remember it, everyone in the audience with me LOVED it. Actually, that's not true: there were some girls, sitting near me, who were seriously wigged out by the violence. Remember, the test version was a hell of a lot bloodier and more violent than the final movie! There was some seriously intense action in there. Lots of blood, skulls getting smashed, bones getting broken, etc. Another thing that was in the version that I saw was lots of intercutting of the singer Pink, during the Rollerball scenes, belting out tunes in S&M gear...
In the final cut, Pink is seen only three times, and VERY briefly. Do you
think they replaced these intercuttings with the band playing music in a box,
or was this band (two or three people playing guitar and keyboard) already
there in the version that you saw?
- The band replaced Pink, to some extent. I don't think there was a band there in the test version. And Pink wasn't PRECISELY there. It kept intercutting to her and you couldn't tell where she was.
In the final cut, during the first Rollerball match (when one of the player
-Toba- who has lost his helmet is hit by a ball, right in the face), Jonathan
is very angry, so he hits the plexiglass with his hand and this acts like
a signal for the band which starts to play again, in a more "angry"
way... Wasn't this scene in the roughcut?
- I'm pretty sure the band in [its] final form was not in the test version. I remember there was lots of music, but I don't remember seeing the band, and it DEFINITELY didn't interact with the Jonathan and any of the players in the test version. Also, were all the newscasters from all over the world in the final film?
Yes, there were some of them, but I think not ALL of them (African, German,
Indian and Italian announcers are listed in the final credits, but not seen
in the final cut...).
- There was a lot of wacky stuff in the test version, not just Rollerball announcements, but strange videos from Asia and Russia (like Japanese rappers and the like), and all kinds of mixed media weirdness. I'm pretty sure that was toned down A LOT. By the way, the desert chase was almost exactly the same in both versions.
You said "almost": do you remember some slight changes? I
thought this scene was a little bit altered, because part of it was reshot
during additional photography (I know they used a model of the cargo plane
for the reshoots)... Was the plane already in the original chase scene?
- Yes, the plane was in the test version. But I think it was longer than in the final version. I think they might have cut some dialogues out of that scene, between Chris Klein and LL Cool J.
I was wondering: was Jonathan and Ridley's escape from the hospital more "detailed"
in the test version?
- I'm not COMPLETELY certain, but I think [Aurora and Denekin] might have hustled them out under their robes. I can't totally remember, but that's what I think happened. Again, sorry for my bad memory! I wish I could remember better, but it was a while ago and I did see the final version when it came out in the movies, so it's all a little murky... I do know I really liked [it], and thought the ending in the final version actually worked better than in the test version. I liked that [Jonathan] and Aurora got out rough in this chaotic country, rather than getting out clean. Is the scene in the final version where Aurora takes Jonathan out into the city, and she goes back to her apartment and one of her friends has been taken and killed?
Yes, this scene is in the final cut (but it's not her apartment...). Right
before that, there are riots in the streets, and I remember you wrote in your
Dark Horizons that Jonathan and Aurora "have to leave Jonathan's hot
rod, which the bad guy bodyguard/henchmen types FIND (they're following him)."
Do you remember if there was actually a scene where the bodyguards find Jonathan's
abandoned and burned car? (because there is no such scene in the final cut)
- Yes. It was the (I think) blue eyed older, middle-aged type henchman guy and someone else. I think they were following. They do find his car. Jonathan and Aurora leave on foot.
Well, actually, they leave on Aurora's motorcycle...
- Also, I'm sure you've heard this before, but Rebecca Romijn [Stamos] was fully naked in the test version, and not obscured by shadows.
Yes, let's talk about that! How exactly different was this (love) scene in
the test version? Was it more detailed and longer than in the final cut? Was
she totally naked, or had she these leather pants on her in the test version
too? Did they only obscured her breast (see some pictures here
for a comparison: that doesn't look like very darkened to me!), and that's
- Except for the darkening, the leather pants scene was the same, I believe!
- Another reviewer from the test version wrote (here) about the "BRIEF and horribly conceived sex scene in the locker room", so this scene was already brief in the test version, right?
- I recall the sauna scene being a lot longer and more detailed. You definitely saw her in the altogether. Remember, this is McT coming off his wild scenes in THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. It was very "realistic," as I recall, and not dark!
So there was more than topless?
- I can't remember it completely, but I do recall full frontal nudity from Rebecca that disappeared in the final version. I wish I had a better memory. Those pictures on that site are accurate as to the darkness level, if I recall correctly!
A friend of mine has read (here)
that this scene, in the test version, "starts with a nude back of
the girl curling a barbell at the gym and ends with a weird on-screen video
display of blood being knocked out of a simpleton Rollerball player's mouth."
And he always fantasized that Jonathan and Aurora were making love, and she
had an orgasm, and then... cut to the blood of the player being hit by the
ball. But I keep telling him that this description of the love scene is in
fact actually accurate with what we saw in the final version: love scene,
(then sauna scene that ends on the video replay of) the guy being hit and
his blood. So, how wrong am I?
- I'm pretty sure you are right here. I think the majority of the cuts/digital darkening were done in the sauna scene. And I seem to recall that they show the video AFTER the sauna scene. The big reveal of the locker room scene is that they aren't enemies and are having a secret affair.
While on this subject, Katya Dobo said in some interview
that a scene with Aurora and her character, together in the locker room, was
"cut out of the film to get its PG-13 rating."
- Yes, I do remember this scene. But there was no action, just a lot of people in various stages of undress. I don't think Rebecca was nude in this scene, though, but the other Rollerballer could have been, or a couple of them. But I do remember this scene now that you remind me!
I know they digitally added black bras to several women in some of the locker
room scenes. I have found this before/after comparison...
- Hey, that shot is WILD! Yes, I do recall the chicks being nude in the original locker room scene. And guys too, heerk!
Now, right after the first Rollerball game scene, and right before the first
locker room scene, there is a very short scene in which Jonathan is facing
a lot of reporters, but it lasts maybe ten seconds, no more. Then, some actor
who played a journalist in ROLLERBALL says
that his lines were cut, so, I was wondering, do you remember if, in the original
version, there was a more elaborated press conference scene with Jonathan,
where people were asking him questions and where he would answer them...?
(To show that he has become some kind of superstar.) Because, in the final
version, all that we see is him in front of lots of journalists, lots of flashes,
and then, cut, on to another scene, and that was it.
- All right, I might be stretching my memory, but I think I do recall a scene that directly followed a previous scene in which LL Cool J and Jonathan have a conversation about what he's supposed to say, and then, in the press conference scene, he says exactly what he's supposed to say (things about the sport, how great it is, etc.). Can't say for certain, though. I do think he says something and I do seem to remember him being prompted by LL Cool J about what he should say!
Do you remember any difference between the opening scene (street luging in
San Francisco) you first saw at the test screening and the opening scene that
was in the final cut? Because I have read on several websites (including here)
that they did reshoot segments of this scene (apparently, this has something
to do with the chinese restaurant-crash... Maybe to clarify that Jonathan
actually PUSHED the guy through the store-front? I was thinking, maybe that
wasn't very clear in the original version... the fact that Jonathan can also
be a "tough guy" sometimes... I don't know...)
- I can't remember specifically, but I do remember that the luging scene SEEMED shorter in the final version. It felt like when I saw it before, there was a lot more action. I can't remember specifically if it was different in terms of Jonathan throwing the guy into the window. One thing was that there were a LOT of very close-up shots of things all edited together very quickly. This scene, and the Rollerball scenes, were much more confusing in the test version. I think [they] used wider shots to establish what was happening better, in the final version.
Last question: I have read that all the music from the original test screening
version was changed, because it sounded "too arabic"... (They
reportedly hired a new composer -Eric Serra- to entirely re-do the score composed
by a previous guy -BT, aka Brian Transeau.)
- Yes, DEFINITELY! I do remember the music being different, not just the score, but a lot of the music that went into the movie was very mixed. I already told you about the Asian rap act that was in the test version. As I recall, the test version had a much more international feel in the music throughout.
© 2003 - The John McTiernan Central