Let's face it: Do you really want to say no to Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Ivan Reitman did, and he lived to talk about it.
Reitman told Schwarzenegger he wasn't going to direct "Kindergarten Cop."
Just like that.
But of course, when you go see the new movie, starring Schwarzenegger as one very tough Los Angeles cop who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to catch a psychotic killer in Astoria, Ore., you just may notice that Reitman's name is listed as the director. And as a co-producer.
But he really did say no.
"It started almost exactly a year ago," said Reitman, who directed the "Ghostbuster" movies and produced and directed "Twins," starring the big Schwarzenegger and the little Danny DeVito as the unlikely siblings.
It seems that Universal Pictures had been developing the script of "Kindergarten Cop" and sent it to Schwarzenegger, who was then smashing heads and zapping creeps on 21st century Mars in the course of making "Total Recall."
Schwarzenegger suggested that the studio forward the script to him, Reitman said, "because he told them he would do it if I would do it. I think he liked the 'Twins' experience. I think it expanded him as an actor, and it expanded him as a movie star."
Reitman said he read the "Kindergarten Cop" script and turned the project down. "After I read it, I said: 'This is wonderful.' I told Arnold Schwarzenegger he should do it. This was wonderful for him. I wasn't sure it was the thing I should do next in my career. The screenplay was not at the point the final movie reached. It basically played on the concept really hard, but it didn't have any of the secondary themes, some of the more serious points of the film: the strong family stories, the broken home, the child abuse and even the romance weren't there."
But Reitman said, "They sort of kept hammering away at me, the studio and Arnold.
"Arnold doesn't take 'no' very well."
"The way I usually get involved in films," Reitman told Universal, "is that I work on the screenplay a long time and either get seduced by it or I don't. I said I would be prepared to produce the film for now, that I would develop the screenplay and make the decision on directing it later. If I didn't direct it, I would find a director and help guarantee it creatively for Arnold, watch over it."
So work proceeded on the screenplay, credited to Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris; and eventually, Reitman said, people began telling him: " 'C'mon, do it. It's great.' I just finally relented. I got all kinds of directors calling me, and that's when I realized I had to do it myself." So toward the end of spring, he went to work, filming "Kindergarten Cop" on a 60-day schedule in Astoria and Los Angeles.
"I like comedy, obviously," he said. "I've done it a lot.