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True Lies 2 scribe Jeff Eastin on why the sequel never got made

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There have been rumours of a “True Lies” sequel since, well, Moviehole’s Pete and I were turned away from catching the original movie at Russell Street Cinemas by a mean-old ‘Full House’ sign on it’s opening day. What a sad day that was…

If that packed house, and the gazillion dollars the film made wasn’t evidence enough that the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring blockbuster should’ve spawned multiple sequels by now, I don’t know what is. The movie, which also featured Jamie Lee Curtis’s legs, is widely regarded to be one of Schwarzenegger’s best moments in film.

Alas, “True Lies 2″ never made it to a projector – but it was a reality at one stage. Just prior to the 911 attacks, director Jim Cameron and his Austrian counterpart had started kicking around ideas for a sequel to their 1995 hit. But once that first plane crashed into the towers, the film understandably died. As Cameron has said time and time again since the attacks, nobody wanted to see a movie about terrorists after having to put up with their actions in our own factual backyard for numerous years.

Jeff Eastin was the guy on scripting duties for “True Lies 2″, and you’ll recall a year or so back that “True Lies” star Tom Arnold started touting the project again, remarking on just how brilliant a script the sequel libretto was. Arnold’s comments suggested there might still be life left in the idea.

“We have both read the script,” said Arnold in 2011. “There is a script that James Cameron and a guy named Jeff Eastin, who created the TV show ‘White Collar,’ wrote. It is really great. Jim can’t direct it. But he can produce it. We hope it gets done. We have a few fun things we want to do. I am supposed to remain cool about this… There is a list of really good directors. There have always been people who were interested in doing it. I let those guys handle that. I put in my two cents.”

Collider caught up with Eastin, known these days for his work as showrunner, executive producer and writer on TV’s “White Collar”, who spoke about the experience of working with Cameron on the project. He also reiterated why the film never happened and the chances of his script ever being stamped ‘shooting script’.

I filed it away. Once in awhile, I’ll hear something about it. I guess Tom Arnold brought it up again the other day on Howard Stern. For me, it was a fantastic experience. James Cameron and [Steven] Spielberg were my two biggest heroes, growing up. Those were the guys I wanted to emulate. If you wanted to make movies, Spielberg and Cameron were the guys. So, to have an opportunity to work for about a year and a half with Jim on it was fantastic. I learned a great deal from him. He wasn’t a guy who stuck to ideas. He would get an idea, but he would easily toss it out for a better idea. That taught me to have the confidence to just say, “If this doesn’t work, we’ll find something better.”

The experience was really great. And then, obviously, 9/11 crashed the project, at the time, which was completely understandable. It was disappointing, but considering what else came out of that day, it was pretty minor. I had some hope that something might happen, and then Arnold [Schwarzenegger] got elected and that pretty much sealed its fate, in my mind. I would love to do it, but at this point, I just chalk it up to a really great experience.

I also worked on an early draft of Rush Hour 3, and I had a great experience working with Brett Ratner. But, you’ll go months to years on those projects and there’s always that question mark. In TV, I can write something today, see the dailies tomorrow, and in three days I’ll see it cut together. Nothing really beats actually seeing your words come to life, especially with great actors, on screen.

Cameron might not gone have entirely cold on the “True Lies” brand. You’ll recall that a couple of years ago he had a TV spin-off of the film in the works at ABC, with Rene Echevarria hired to play showrunner. The show hasn’t happened (yet) but the fact that Cameron was interested enough to develop it proves that there’s the slight possibility that in the back of his mind he’s still itchy to get Schwarzenegger’s Harry Tasker back on the big screen. Guess time will tell.

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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