Independence Day Director Roland Emmerich Breaks Down Bill Pullman's Iconic Speech

A number of films and a number of performers have delivered audiences countless impressive and inspiring monologues over the years, though there arguably hasn't been a speech that tops the impact of Bill Pullman delivering an address as President Whitmore in Independence Day to inspire courage among humanity's last hope. Between the script, performance, and overall execution, one would think that it was a difficult task to find the specific choice of words to instill hope not only in the characters, but also in the audience, yet director Roland Emmerich recently revealed how the scene only took a few minutes to write and that initial dialogue was never changed.

"When we wrote [the movie], we always had a card, 'President holds speech,' right? Rallying the troops.," Emmerich explained to ComicBook.com. "This was at the end of the movie and we were like, just returned after two and a half, three weeks, we started in Mexico, but we were not quite finished with the script. So we had to write two more days and that was a thing we hadn't written yet. There was only, 'President holds a speech.' Then I said to Dean, 'Why don't I just do one, something like Crispin's Day speech [from Henry V] or something like that?' He said, 'Ah, let me try something.' And he came out like three or four or five minutes later and said, 'What do you think about this?' And I said, 'Oh, that's fantastic. We can always change it later.' Never one word was changed in that speech. Not one word."

The film establishes early on that Whitmore was a courageous war hero, though the original concept for the character was to depict that integrity wavering a bit more earlier on in the adventure.

"I think Bill Pullman was born to play that part. Because he always said, 'I want to play this like, don't laugh now, but I want to play this like John Wayne,'" Emmerich pointed out. "I said, 'Okay, give it your best John Wayne.' I have no idea why he said that, but he played John Wayne in his mind. And he was perfect for this part, because, at the beginning, we wrote him as a little bit a weaker president who cannot make up his mind, and all these kinds of things. And then when the aliens come, he rises to the occasion, and that culminates, naturally, in the speech. And then after the speech, he gets into a plane himself."

The speech was so rousing, in fact, that Emmerich revealed it even had an impact on the actual President's family when the film came out.

"When we screened the movie in the Clinton White House, afterwards, Hillary said to me, 'You know what Roland? Do you think Bill should take flying lessons?'" the filmmaker expressed. "I said, 'No, he's already in the White House and he's doing pretty good.'"

In Emmerich's upcoming film Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the Moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Academy Award winner Halle Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving us all – but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson, Midway) and a conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley, Game of Thrones) believe her. These unlikely heroes will mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space, leaving behind everyone they love, only to find out that our Moon is not what we think it is.

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Moonfall is expected to land in theaters on February 4, 2022.

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