35 Years Ago: Gene Simmons Bids for Movie Stardom in ‘Runaway’

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Gene Simmons doesn’t do things by halves – or at least, he tries not to.

When the Kiss star signed up to appear in 1984 movie Runaway he was expecting to become a major supporting actor. And you couldn’t blame him for believing it was going to happen.

Written and directed by Westworld (and later Jurassic Park) creator Michael Crichton, it starred Tom Selleck and Kirstie Alley along with Cynthia Rhoades and Stan Shaw. The music was by Jerry Goldsmith and the budget was a reasonable but modest (for the time) $8 million.

Crichton believed he had an important point to make with his story, which was set in the very near future at a time when robots were commonplace. It followed Jack Ramsay (Selleck), an experienced cop with a big regret in his past who’s put out to pasture in the “runaway squad.” His new job is to chase down robots that malfunction, which is an easy ride until the first machine homicide takes place. Ramsay discovers the person responsible is Dr. Charles Luther (Simmons), a psychopath who aims to profit from selling chips that will cause more robots to kill.

“Runaway is a cop movie, good guys versus bad guys,” Crichton said on his website. “How can I put this? Courageous cop meets … let’s say, a very inventive villain. It’s about the introduction of smart weapons into civilian life – like the Exocet missile. The pilot who sunk the battleship Sheffield in the Falklands war never even saw the target. He just fired at it over the horizon. When people buy a coffeemaker these days, they expect it to have a microprocessor in it. What about when they buy a gun?”

Simmons had rejected a handful of movie roles before selecting Runaway as his first. “I wasn’t interested in musicals or comedy,” he said later. “I wanted to start out in something serious. I understand brooding characters more than I do splashy people.” He so impressed Crichton that he didn’t have to audition for the role. Furthermore, the director wasn’t trying to create an effects-heavy action movie, professing himself bored with the genre. Instead, he regarded it as a police procedural thriller; he wanted to focus on the character clash between Ramsay and Luther, which meant Simmons had an even greater chance of kicking off a large-scale movie career. “I didn’t see Luther as evil, but as a deadly animal who kills when someone gets in his way,” he said. “Crichton didn’t want me to memorize the script or talk to my acting coach. His direction was, ‘Don’t be afraid to try different things.’”

Read More: 35 Years Ago: Gene Simmons Bids for Movie Stardom in ‘Runaway’ | https://ultimateclassicrock.com/gene-simmons-runaway-movie/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

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