What on earth is the director of such boutique indie gems as Spanking the Monkey and Flirting With Disaster doing directing a big-budget Gulf War docomedrama starring, of all casts, Ice Cube, "Marky Mark" Wahlberg, and George Clooney?
Good question, methinks, good enough for The New York Times to do an in-depth profile on the movie, Three Kings, and its director, David O. Russell, in its recent fall movie guide.
What the article revealed was that Marky and Cube brought every last ounce of their street knowledge straight to the set, taking Russell on a hip-hop shopping spree that saw him donning baggy gear and fly sneaks every day on the faux desert set. "(Marky's) a real thug," remarked Russell. "(Cube's) a total thug."
If y'all recall, the Gulf War marked the crown jewel of one George Bush Sr.'s presidency—which promptly went into the shitter when General Powell brought the troops home to claim victory.
Amazingly, while filming, Russell caught President Bush's son, Governor George W., on the stump at a campaign event. Clad in his hip-hop soldier gear, Russell looked quite out of place at a Republican hob-nob amidst all the suits, according to the Times account. So, naturally, W. sought him out rather quickly, proclaiming: "It's so nice to see someone dressed like you at one of my events."
Russell quickly inserted little George as special assistant to the director. Problem is, back when our boys were slammin' Saddam, W. didn't have no Condoleeza Rice filling him in on what his dad was doing over in Iraq. And, unfortunately, politically challenged fact-checkers at Warner Brothers (the film's studio) mistook W. for his dad all through production—failing to notice that all Junior's advice was a heap of holy hogwash.
So the first draft of the script ended up as something like this:
Clooney: Hey, Doughboy, look at that Stormtrooper over there—he's drinking a 40-ounce bottle of St. Ide's. Does that mean he's a Crip?
Cube: Nah-nah, Doc—jus meanz he gots good taste in brew-hoo-hoo. St. Ide's iz my favorite 40-oh-zee, ho!
Clooney: I prefer Colt 45 myself, Ice, but we've got more important things to worry about. Like winning the war against the Iraqermans!
Marky: Damn, G's, that Jennifer Lopez is bootylicious!
Cube: You know, if Puffy heard you say that, he'd woop your ass.
Marky: Shit, dog, my crew's hype enough to take that playa down!
Russell: Cut! Cut! W.—is that in the script?
Bush: Yeah, Dave.
Russell: But that sounds like some sort of fictional Rolling Stone story, not the Gulf War.
Bush: I know a lot more about the Gulf War than you, Dave. Remember, my dad was commander in chief at the time.
Russell: All right, all right—roll. . . .
Clooney: Guys, you know, if Marky and Puffy's crew square off, y'all know there's gonna be "gats" involved. And you guys do realize that, as an emergency room doctor, I'm pretty damn busy already.
Cube: I thought Goose from Top Gun—oh, what's his name, the skinny white boy with the shaggy hair in Gotcha—specialized in gunshot wounds?
Marky: Maria Bello and Julianne Margulies are bootylicious.
Clooney: Watch it, underwear boy, Julianne Margulies is my off-and-on girlfriend.
Marky: Yeah—off and on, bitch. You get off her, I get on her!
Cube: Chill, chill, chill—we've got a war to win. Now, we're s'posed to put a cap in Tony Blair's ass, right, Cloon-dog.
Clooney: Tony Blair? The fuck? He's the British prime minister. What does he have to do with Desert Storm?
Russell: Cut! George, you want to field that one?
Bush: Tony Blair was Emperor of Iran back when my dad lived in the White House.
Russell: Fine, George, but we're talking about Iraq here.
Bush: What's the difference?! Same country s'far as I'm concerned. It's all sand 'n' camels anyway—big fucking deal!
Russell: Whatever, George. Roll tape. . . .
Marky: Shit, dude. I remember one time I did a concert with Miami Sound machine—I started taxin' ass on one of Gloria Estefan's backup singers right on the beach.
Cube: You did a concert with Miami Sound Machine? What—did you and Gloria do a duet during "Conga" or "Feel the Vibration"?
Marky: Yup, yup—"I know you can't control yo-self any longa. . . ."
Clooney: Shut up, already—whose battleship is that over there on Lake Michigan?
Russell: Cut! W., I've given you the benefit of the doubt on all your other "expert advice," but I know—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that Lake Michigan isn't in the Middle East.
Bush: Who do you think you are, Dave—Christopher Fucking Columbus? How do you know there aren't two Lake Michigans?
Russell: Good point, I guess I don't. Roll the Lake Michigan scene. . . .
Cube: It's the Detroit Pistons Confederated Army, Doc. Led by none other than DENNIS RODMAN!
Marky: Carmen Electra's bootylicious.
Rodman: Stop talkin' 'bout my ex-wife, Dirk Diggler!
Russell: Cut! Cut! Dirk Diggler? George, did you put this in the script?
Bush: What—you've never had a favorite movie character?
Russell: Sure, but my favorite character never had a prosthetic foot-long penis.
Bush: The American people want a prosthetic foot-long penis. At least that's what my advisors tell me. And that's why I'm running for president.
Director's note: Not one word of what we now refer to as "The W Script" made it into the final cut of Three Kings. It was, however, picked up by Miramax and renamed Boogie Nights 2, set for release in November, 2000.—D.O. Russell