Andy Tennant (Director/Co-Writer) Q&A
QUESTION: What was your inspiration for making a romantic comedy like Fool’s Gold?
ANDY TENNANT: I actually was kind of keen to do sort of a Romancing the Stone movie, where I wanted more than just the relationship stuff. And I felt like with the script that I was first given, I thought, ‘Well, the idea that ultimately the treasure is the relationship and the treasure is the person. The McGuffin was the treasure hunt, and the adventure was the thing that rekindled their relationship.’ It scared me a little bit, but I liked the idea of doing a big adventure comedy. I thought that was a genre that hadn't been done a lot, and I thought those were movies that I missed seeing. And so, I had put it out there, and this had an interesting premise. I was a diver and I had actually, ironically, been to Australia and dove the burial reef, and I just loved that world.
QUESTION: But here you have an actor and actress, and she's terrified of going in the water.
ANDY TENNANT: Well, I didn’t know that at the time. I mean, you assume that somebody reads the script and they say they want to do it, that they're going in the water. But it was really quite fun to watch her blossom. In the early days, it was a little nerve-wracking, and then I went with her on her first dive, and, it was just, this world opened up, which was fantastic. I mean, if you're going to dive somewhere, and the barrier reef is there, it's jaw-dropping. And then, by the end, when we're in the tank and she's doing the fighting underwater, she's sitting underwater, she is so comfortable. It was a nice journey to watch.
QUESTION: Did the script change after you cast these two principles?
ANDY TENNANT: No. No. I was given a script that bears very little resemblance to what it is now, and then spent some time researching the world of Key West and the treasure hunters and the whole Mel Fisher thing. And then wrote it. I didn’t think it was a romantic comedy either; I thought it was a comedy adventure, with romance. Being that I'm married; I have kids, all that stuff. I had just come off of doing Hitch, and thought, ‘Well, I've done that world. I've done single people in dating world,’ but the idea of a couple that are divorced because of financial pressures and all this other stuff, I thought that was interesting and I thought that was relatable. It was an interesting way to explore how you rekindle a marriage, and just a different approach.
QUESTION: Did you ever reconsider shooting underwater and in such difficult places?
ANDY TENNANT: Well, as a writer, I was thrilled. I was really happy, and as the director, I had no idea, on some level. You put three guys on the back of a boat, and there were 41 boats in the water; there are barges. It was logistically kind of complex, but it was fun because it's more toys and you get to do things you've never done before. How do they light underwater?
QUESTION: How do you balance the realities of risks with the fact that your actors are willing to do adventurous things?
ANDY TENNANT: Listen, you're not going to put anybody in that much danger, you hope. I mean, clearly, we did some things with Matthew that are kind of required. Matthew is on a real pontoon on a plane that really takes off, and, sure, there's a safety strap on his wrist and everything else, but he's still going 85 miles an hour on the water. The stunt guy did the lead, and all this other stuff, and you just hope for the best, and we had that phenomenal stunt coordinator, R.A. Rondell. They know what they're doing. It's fun for me.
QUESTION: How much of the story is historically accurate?
ANDY TENNANT: Well, the Queen's Dowry, the 1715 Fleet. I did quite a bit of research, and I found that the most interesting part of the Queen's Dowry story is that it did sink with the 1715 Fleet. Then they had it remade in the Orient, and they brought it over and did the same thing and it sank again. And then it came over again, on the 1733 Fleet, and that too sank, which is why the Queen's Dowry became fabled. It was the cursed, fun, easy treasure, because it never made it to Spain. And it has still never been found. None of the three have ever been found. There's over $3 billion worth of treasure that is somewhere on the bottom of the ocean.
QUESTION: Does it make you want to look for it?
ANDY TENNANT: No. No. Not. No. I mean, it's nuts. You just look at the ocean and you think, ‘Something's down there and how are you going to find it?’ Forget it. I mean the idea that Mel Fisher looked for 18 years for the Atocha, and for, I think, 13 of those years; he was in the wrong place completely. And then, when he finally found another avenue, he spent six years; they found part of the treasure. They actually found that this was the right ship, and it took him another six years to actually find any treasure, even though they found a part of the ship, because of the scatter pattern and the way the tides were and everything else. It's a fool's errand.
QUESTION: But you said these adventurers are notoriously secretive. Did they allow you to make a movie only if it wasn't too close to reality?
ANDY TENNANT: No, because I think a lot of the Atocha stuff, a lot of the Mel Fisher stuff, there are plenty of other materials that you can find and see what they've done. But, in fact, while I was in postproduction, I read some article about a ship that was found, and corporations are now looking for certain ships. I think a collective went searching for a ship just off the coast of Spain and they found it. It's a billion-dollar treasure.
QUESTION: Do you think you'll want to do more movies with water?
ANDY TENNANT: It was fun. It was really fun. Australia was really, really amazing. The crews were great. My family loved it. It was a great time. So, I think if somebody offered me a movie in Australia, I would jump at the chance. On the water, everybody says it's really hard. We were incredibly lucky. We had a great time, and I do love the water. If there was another movie like this, I'd probably do it.