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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

That’s A Wrap After A Summer Of Filming In Wallace, Idaho, ‘Dante’s Peak’ Heads Back To L.A.

Ashes to ashes, “Dante” has peaked.

“Dante’s Peak” wrapped up its Wallace, Idaho, location shoot this weekend after two months of filming, acres of fake ash and $10 million. That’s how much money flowed into North Idaho, like a big magma river, from this big-budget Universal production about a town inundated by a volcanic eruption.

In commemoration of the final shoot, stars Pierce Brosnan (“Remington Steele,” “GoldenEye”) and Linda Hamilton (both “Terminator” movies and CBS’ “Beauty and the Beast”) met the local press for the first time on Monday.

They were joined by director Roger Donaldson (“Cocktail,” “Species”) and executive producer Ilona Herzberg (“The River Wild,” “Waterworld”).

Here are some of the highlights and lowlights of that press conference:

Idaho has been very, very good to them.

“It has been the sweetest of summers,” said Brosnan. “What can I say? … I fished, I had my children up here, my mother, my girlfriend. It’s been a blast for my kids.”

“I had the best time ever on location,” said Hamilton. “It was simple and sweet and healthy. There were wonderful people stopping by my house every day.”

Idaho grows some excellent movie extras.

“The extras that we had here were probably the best extras I’ve ever worked with,” said Donaldson. “They were enthusiastic, they really put their hearts into it, and really made a great contribution to the feeling of realism in our movie.”

The filmmakers used 1,000 extras on one day alone.

Idaho also grows some great mountains.

“We wanted a place that would feel very enclosed, with the forest coming right down to town,” said Donaldson. “Wallace really fitted that very well. The only problem Wallace had for us is that it had a freeway running through it, which really wasn’t the way I had originally seen it. So we went back and re-wrote the script and made the freeway part of the story.”

They missed a few big-city amenities.

“I missed bookstores!” said Hamilton. “I went to Coeur d’Alene and went nuts. Books I had already read, I bought again.”

The stars are not playing their usual roles.

“I hope the character is different than Remington Steele, I hope he’s different than Bond,” said Brosnan. “I’ve never played a volcanologist before - I didn’t even know what a volcanologist was before I took this role.”

“Sarah Connor (“Terminator”) was a special, specific character and there’s nobody like her, and I’m glad,” said Hamilton. “I mean, I’m glad that’s over with. This is a more accessible woman, with room to play so many other parts of myself, some funny, some vulnerable.”

When the mountain isn’t exploding, it’s a love story.

“Our work together is really a kind of personal drama,” said Brosnan. “Linda plays the mother of two children, the mayor who oversees this town and the welfare of all of these people. And I’m the guy who comes in from the outside. He has a kind of a bruised background … and they find each other in the midst of this kind of epic drama.”

It has a happy ending, maybe.

“It’s a movie about survival, I think,” said Donaldson. “If you see surviving as happy, then it’s a happy ending. If you live in this town, you’d see it as a total disaster because not much is left standing at the end of it.”

Will it be a hit?

“‘Independence Day’ and ‘Twister’ combined!” said Hamilton, laughing. “The combined box office of those two films.”

“I’m too superstitious to be too confident,” said Donaldson. “I hope for the best and expect the worst and then you won’t be too disappointed.”

They’re not finished yet. “We have another 50 days in L.A. to shoot,” said Hamilton. “People ask me, what’s your next project? I say, the second half of this movie.”

And even after that, it’s not finished.

After the L.A. filming, all of the digital effects have to be added to the movie, such as the volcano and the eruption itself.

“There will be a team of 300 to 400 people going to work between November and March, through Christmas, through New Year’s, seven days a week, to get this film ready for March 7 (opening date),” said Herzberg. “It will be as intense as the production we’re doing now.”

The movie is on budget, and on schedule.

“We’re actually two days ahead of schedule, and very much on budget, which is wonderful,” said Herzberg. “We keep hoping it lasts for the second half of the movie.”

Brosnan, the budding producer.

After “Dante’s Peak” wraps in mid-October, Brosnan is trying something new.

“I’m going off to Ireland and produce a little film for my company,” said Brosnan. “It’s called ‘The Nephew.’ This is the first time that I’ll be stepping into the shoes of a producer. So we just got our financing, five million bucks, and we’ll go off to the Old Sod and make this movie. I’m going to take a role in it as well.”

Wallace may get its own premiere.

“We’re going to try to get you a print of the movie up here so you can have your own premiere simultaneously with ours in New York and L.A.,” said Herzberg. “But we don’t know what the actors’ schedules will be.”

“I would certainly come up,” said Hamilton.

“If they will have us,” said Brosnan.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color photos