The aliens are back with a vengeance for Independence Day: Resurgence, which represents director Roland Emmerich’s huge return to the genre that made him famous. The 1996 original shot into the public imagination with its vistas of destruction, its memorable characters and huge impact on both science fiction and disaster movies. With giant alien spaceships unleashing incredibly devastating power upon the world, it took brain, brawn and heroics to figure out a way to fight back.
Now, 20 years later, humanity has united to rebuild the world’s major cities, while salvaged alien technology has been utilized to work on solving many big problems such as climate change. But the lingering threat of the extra-terrestrials’ return still hangs over our heads and the Earth Space Defence programme has formed to be ready for when that day comes. Ominously, it appears that our greatest enemy is indeed back.
Among those preparing to take on the threat is Patricia Whitmore, the daughter of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman). A tough cookie from a young age – she lost her mother in the original attack – Patricia now works in the White House for the current president, but also takes care of her ailing father as he’s haunted by the psychic connection to the aliens established during the last invasion.
Maika Monroe, who portrays Patricia in Independence Day: Resurgence, is quickly becoming one of the most accomplished young actors around. The 22-year-old has enjoyed success with films such as The Bling Ring, Labor Day and The Guest, but it was her breakout turn as the haunted Jay Height in It Follows that won her extra attention and acclaim. She appeared in the science fiction thriller The 5th Wave and has another, Bokeh, on the way. Monroe talked about her family’s love for the original Independence Day, working with Jeff Goldblum and how much she enjoyed playing Patricia…
When you first watched the original Independence Day, what was your reaction to it?
I was scarred for life! I need to talk to my dad about that! No… I really remember the characters. I feel like they were so specific and I loved the comedy that was brought into this insane situation. Bringing a realness to these people was the perfect mix, so that’s probably what I remember most from it.
This must’ve been a thrill to get the role, given how your father is such a fan…
Oh, my dad was the first person I called and he said, “Oh my god! It’s so cool!” It was incredibly, incredibly exciting and I never, ever would have thought that I’d be doing it, so it’s a really special film to be a part of.
Did you have to go through the usual auditions?
It’s really stressful! I started with going in to meet with the casting director. I read for him and then went out and met Roland and read with him. After that, I ended up doing a camera test where you’re on a stage filming from different angles with all the executives, the producers, Roland and Liam (Hemsworth) there. I’ve done those in the past, and I have never felt so comfortable with a group. Everyone involved from Roland on down is an incredible group of people.
What was the first day on set like? Did Roland start you off easily with something sedate?
We took it pretty easily, there was a good pace to it. The alien craziness we saved to the end, which was great. It was very contained, my first couple of days. I can’t say too much about it, but it was low key, which I appreciated.
What was it like walking on set and seeing the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and the others?
I had to pinch myself. It really was incredible. Since I’d loved the first film so much, being thrown in with the old cast was great. I had a huge respect for them, and it was very cool.
Did it feel like the original cast were helping to welcome you guys into it?
Yes! The original cast was more than welcoming. Coming on to a sequel everyone had this genuine excitement- there was this energy around it. The first movie was so spectacular. It changed film in a way.
How was it hanging out with the cast in between shots?
It was so funny. Jeff was a big part of that. He would bring plays and books in and give all the actors different characters to read, so that’s what we’d get up to! We’d sing songs, we’d have dance competitions with him… It was dumb, fun and wonderful. Jeff was getting it all together, it was very special. We’d play the movie game and after a while you realise it’s just Jeff playing against himself. No one else knows enough! He’d be, “oh yes, that then leads us to that actor….” And we’d be, “good. You go, Jeff.” You don’t stop him, you just let it go and he’s always interesting what he has to say. There’s no one else like him.
How is it being told you’ve got to react to a big alien threat when there is nothing there?
A huge part of it is your imagination, you have to be able to play and figure that out. So we had a lot of fun with it, because all the cast were in it together. We had to be ridiculous, and we had to go full on. And Roland and the writers would make it so much fun.
The writers are in it, too, right?
They are! They were excellent. They obviously did a great job with the script, but their presence on set was great. They were a huge part of it, they’d come in and really help with the dialogue.
It’s a big movie with a lot riding on it, but it seems as though Roland always finds time to be collaborative. Was that your experience?
Oh, for sure. I think it’s important for a director to be able to be open to different ideas. And he was absolutely collaborative with everyone involved.
Was there something that you wanted to bring to Patricia?
Yes, the toughness was super important to her character, she lost her mom when she was very young and I think that affects someone very deeply. And to me, it made her tougher and made her stick up for and defend herself, so that was something I wanted to get in there.
How was it getting to do the action hero stuff?
I love that stuff. I really enjoy it. Because of her past there is this anger inside that comes out when she’s faced in that situation, so that was really fun. And her boss is a tough cookie! I’d vote for Sela Ward as president!
And she also has to take care of her dad?
It’s a huge part of her character too. You see at the beginning of the film that she’s given up a lot to take care of him.
How was it playing the scenes with Bill?
He’s so talented, so being able to work with him and creating a relationship between the two of us was really great.
Patricia is in something of a character triangle with Liam’s Jake and Jessie Usher’s Dylan. How does that dynamic work?
Dylan and Patricia grew up very similarly where they had parents who were heroes in the limelight, that were respected and looked up to. So I feel like they really bonded over that and created this great friendship. Then she meets Jake, who is this bad boy and there’s intrigue there. But Dylan and Jake have fallen out and don’t get along, which doesn’t make things easy. There might be some easing on that front as the film goes along!
What does Roland have against London?
He really gets after it in this one, doesn’t he? Sorry! It’s just so pretty and it’s more interesting when the pretty is destroyed…
There are ideas that could spread off into other movies. Anything on the horizon?
Yeah, there are some very cool possibilities. I’d love to work with these guys again if I can. Sign me up if we do.
Buy Independence Day Resurgence Now on Digital.
Available on 3D, Blu-ray & DVD October 19