- ‘Strange Darling’: Terrifying Cat-and-Mouse Game Unfolds in First Look at J.T. Mollner Horror-Thriller
- Ken Burns Sets Record Straight Over Photo With Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
- Katja Gauriloff Makes History With ‘Je’vida,’ the First Feature Shot in the Skolt Sámi Language: ‘My Mother Never Let Me Forget’
- Jessica Chastain Encourages Producers to Sign Interim Agreements Amid SAG-AFTRA Strike: ‘It Will Show the AMPTP How Wrong They Are’
- ‘The Successor’ Review: Cold, Controlled French Thriller Implicates Entire Patriarchy in the Sins of a Father
As “Cool Runnings” celebrates its 30th anniversary, director Jon Turteltaub and the film’s cast recently reunited for an interview, shedding light on the challenges they faced with Disney over the characters’ Jamaican accents. Loosely based on the Jamaican national bobsleigh team’s debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics, the film had an unconventional beginning, featuring a script filled with drugs, racism, and explicit content, as recalled by cast member Rawle D. Lewis.
Lewis remarked, “I saw it transform into the movie that it is today. It was a story that had never been told before – Jamaicans in tights? People were wondering, ‘How is this going to fit under the Disney umbrella?'”
Reportedly, Walt Disney Studios executives had disagreements with Turteltaub regarding the authenticity of the cast’s accents.
Just Leon shared, “They wanted me to sound like a Disney-fied version of a black character, like Aladdin. It was challenging because, while I wanted to stay true to authenticity, I’m a professional, and I had to do the job.”
Malik Yoba added, “They would say, ‘People in Middle America won’t be able to understand you.’ During that time, cultural differences were less understood, and people weren’t familiar with how Jamaican accents sounded.”
Turteltaub recalled receiving a phone call from then-Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg at 1 a.m., who said, “He said, ‘If you can’t make these accents understandable to me, I’ll find another director who can.'”
“The next day, I told the cast, ‘I might lose my job if you don’t tone down the accents to something more understandable, even if it’s not perfectly authentic,'” Turteltaub added. “We had a good laugh about it, but they understood the importance of making the movie accessible to a global audience.”
When asked if making “Cool Runnings” in 2023 would be different, Turteltaub expressed uncertainty, saying, “A lot has changed over the past 30 years. There’s no doubt that I wouldn’t be chosen to direct this film today, and perhaps that’s for the best. I align with those who argue that I shouldn’t have directed it, but in the end, we created a movie that resonated with audiences. It’s a complex issue.”