July 21st marks 20 years since What Lies Beneath hit theaters. The Robert Zemeckis thriller starred Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford, and followed the wife of a university research scientist who believes their lakeside home is haunted. One fun fact about the movie that many might not know is that it was written by Clark Gregg, the actor best known for playing Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Recently, ComicBook.com had the chance to chat with Gregg, and we asked him about the history of the film in honor of its anniversary.
"It makes me feel old. 20 years, wow," Gregg joked when we asked how he feels about the movie now. "It all came together 'cause I did a lot of theater. And so, I was in New York for the first eight or nine years out of college and then I came out here and I didn't know anybody and really, nobody was that interested in meeting with me. So, I started writing, 'cause I needed to be busy. And I wrote a couple of indie scripts and one of them got the attention of a really amazing person who's become very successful, Nina Jacobson, who was a young executive at DreamWorks. And she said, 'You know, we have this ghost idea. It's a couple of sentences and there were some rumors that Steven Spielberg had been in this idea, possibly.'"
Gregg continuted, "I was about to drive cross country and they told me the sentences. I said, 'Okay, let me... I'm about to have a lot of time to think.' And sure enough, by Nebraska, I had a few ideas. And so, I met with Nina and she was an amazing partner. And eventually, they brought in Mark Johnson as a producer, who produced Breaking Bad and has an amazing career of his own, and I wrote a script. We talked about it for a while and they sent me off and I wrote a script, and the first draft turned out okay. And I guess DreamWorks had a deal with Rob Zamackis and weirdly, I guess, he walked into their offices a few days after I turned in this first draft and said, 'You know, what I really wanna do is kind of a Hitchcock, Hitchcock-ian ghost thing.' And they were like, 'Okay, that's weird.' One could describe this kind of beginnings of a script here in that way and the next thing you know, I was meeting with the legend at his place out near Santa Barbara at the time. He just was remarkable and had really amazing ideas, and wanted to work on it with me and keep me around."
"[Zemeckis] kept me around all the way through and taught me a million things and pretty soon, Harrison, we really need someone to play this guy, this professor who may have a dark streak that no one will see that coming and who better to do that than the amazing Harrison Ford, who was, just couldn't have been more of a gentleman, and then Michelle Pfeiffer. It was, it was ridiculous. Every step of it, I just was like living in a tiny guest house in Venice, going, 'Oh, for real?' And then, Bob did this amazing thing, which was he shot the first half of Cast Away, and then he shot all of What Lies Beneath with his same crew," Gregg explained. "In the meantime, I guess Tom Hanks lost a ton of weight and then they went back and shot the other half."
"I have to admit, for no reason that makes any sense, I have never watched What Lies Beneath since the premiere," Gregg added. "And actually, I think I'm gonna watch it for the anniversary. It's hard to go back and watch things you've already made. You can't fix anything you wrote."
What Lies Beneath is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.