According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michael Bay, who directed the Bad Boys movies starting Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, said studio heads at Sony didn’t feel that two Black actors would sell overseas.
The admission came about as Bay discussed his latest project, Ambulance, with EW. He was asked about the infamous “circling shot” that became his trademark. No one had reportedly done a shot like that before Bay used it for 1995’s Bad Boys.
“It gives a weird tension,” he admitted.
“I’ll tell you how that shot came up in Bad Boys. Sony didn’t believe in the movie, because two Black actors don’t sell overseas. They had no faith in it. I was watching James Cameron‘s True Lies and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, this guy has so much money. I have only $9 million.’ And they shut me down, literally. They shut the power off. That’s how rude they were on this movie. Luckily I had 500 days of film set experience doing videos, commercials, working with some of the most famous athletes in the world, and that’s where you really truly know how to deal with a–holes.”
The Armageddon director was asked how he came up with the idea for shooting the scene in the way he did.
“So I remember we’re driving our van. The line producer, he didn’t like me. I don’t think he liked anybody. I said, ‘Stop the car! Stop the van.’ And he’s coming up to me, the line producer, saying, ‘What are you doing, Michael? We don’t have time for this,’ I’m like, ‘This is going to be the trailer shot.’ For some reason, I just came up with this shot as we’re driving. And I said, ‘Where’s the circle trolley? Get the circle trolley.’ And we made this round move and you guys rise up and it became a very famous shot. People try to imitate it, but it was a seminal moment. Bad Boys literally changed the game on Black actors. It’s the first movie that really traveled overseas.”
You can check out the full interview here.