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Years before the Jason Momma-starring Aquaman arrived in theaters, Entourage created their own fictional version.
At the time, superhero movies were still a rarity, although the Spider-Man franchise was dominant at the box office. Entourage creator Doug Ellin recently spoke to Yahoo Entertainment about the inception of the fictional Aquaman subplot, how he cast James Cameron as its director, and Cameron’s important note that changed the course of the story.
Watch the video interview above.
- I can only stay for a bit of the film. But I've got to tell you, it was all I needed to see. How'd you like to come play Aquaman for me?
- Sure. I mean, I could do that for you.
ETHAN ALTER: Well, let's talk a little "Aquaman". It's 15th anniversary of how that storyline went down. And I thought a very cool detail you dropped at one point was that James Cameron changed the course of the storyline because he demanded this has to be a hit.
DOUG ELLIN: I wasn't thinking about James Cameron. When I got him to do the show and when he agreed to be the director of this fake "Aquaman" he wrote me a letter of why "Aquaman" has to be successful. Because Janice, who was our post-production supervisor, Janice Tashjian who got him to do the show, let him know that the plan was for "Aquaman" to be a bomb. And he was right. How dare I do this to him when he was kind enough to come in and do this favor for us?
So it changed the whole thing. And it maybe gave us our best episode too. One of my favorite episodes is where it does break the Spider-Man box office record.
- What the hell is that?
- $1.00 more than Spider-Man made.
DOUG ELLIN: So he just wrote me a letter that this movie has to be successful, not in a nasty way at all. It was actually genius and amazing. And yeah. It changed the storyline, just like Mark did. That's why James Cameron and Wahlberg are much more successful than me. They have better instincts than I do.
ETHAN ALTER: And when Ben sort of decides whether or not to come back for "Aquaman 2" and that becomes a thing, was that inspired by the Tobey Maguire Jake Gyllenhaal thing?
DOUG ELLIN: Of course. Yeah. And even the "Aquaman" opening, Kevin Connolly's very close with Tobey. And we're going to talk about it in a couple of weeks on the podcast. He may have a different recollection than me. But I remember him telling me that he was with Toby when they got the call that "Spider-Man" broke the record. You talk about wish fulfillment, being with your best friend when his movie becomes the biggest movie of all time. So that's where that storyline came from.
I've never asked Tobey Maguire about what was going on behind the scenes. I took what I read and ingested it, maybe as Kevin Connolly, a couple of questions. But yes. That was inspired by that. How close it was to reality, I have no idea.
ETHAN ALTER: It's notable that Mark Wahlberg has never done a comic book movie. He's avoided that. But in the '90s, was there a time where he was considered? And was that part of the inspiration? Let's follow that?
DOUG ELLIN: The comic book movies we're not in favor then. And then it all started changing. But I took ideas of how I saw things happening in Mark's life. But I didn't have a conversation with Mark like, did someone offer you a comic book movie or not? That just didn't happen. They were all kind of loosely inspired by how I saw it, and then conversations I would have with the writers and stuff.
- One true king.
ETHAN ALTER: When you did see James Wan's Aquaman, what was it like to actually see an "Aquaman"?
DOUG ELLIN: I thought it was an incredible piece of filmmaking. The technology has come such a far way. And the world has changed so much since then that it's pretty wild. But when James Cameron makes a movie, there's nothing like it. And when James Cameron was on my set and literally came out of his trailer, I swear to you this is true. But he came out of-- he's acting in this show, which is still surreal to me. And he comes out of his trailer and I swear to God, he says, Doug, how do you write these guys? They sound so real. And I'm writing these blue people. And this and that.
And I didn't even know what he was writing when he was making these movies and inventing underwater cameras. I mean, he's an off the charts genius. So that's why I really was obsessed that James Cameron's "Aquaman" would be something. And again, I did appreciate the movie they did. But if James Cameron did it, it'd be whole other animal.
- Was the sinking of the ship an attempt to foreshadow the forthcoming sinking of the tech market in 2000?
- No. Actually I just wanted to make young girls cry. Can I get some of the Sour Patch Kids--