For his next project Michael Mann turned a slick 1980s small screen series about undercover narcotic detectives into a cinematic adaptation. “Michael didn’t want to make the TV series over again; he had basically said to me, ‘I’ve done that already. I want to modernize the story,’” states William Goldenberg who collaborated with Paul Rubell (Battleship) on Miami Vice (2006). It wasn’t what people expected; they expected Sonny Crocket and Ricardo Tubbs, Don Johnson [Django Unchained] and Philip Michael Thomas [Fate]. At a certain point we were saying that we need to change the name of this movie. Some audiences were disappointed that it wasn’t the same tongue and cheek version of the TV show. Colin [Farrell] and Jamie [Foxx] were intense. The experience of it all was intense.” Trouble erupted while principle photography was taking place in the Dominican Republic. “I may be getting some of this wrong,” begins Goldenberg. “There was a big rift between the army and the police, and they hired the army for the security. A policeman came to the set who was drunk and got angry; he started waving a gun around.”
Security issues caused the finale of the movie to be changed. “It was originally going to end at Ciudad del Este which is in South America,” reveals William Goldenberg who saw the production relocate to Miami where they encountered a different kind of safety hazards. “There was Katrina, Rita and third hurricane that disrupted things many times.” Even with Hurricane Katrina being a category one it still caused a lot of damage. “Downed power lines, and a window fell out of a building and almost hit the Ferrari that Jamie and Colin were driving. It came within about three feet of smashing on their heads. At the end of it I believe Hurricane Rita came through. A lot of the crew was still down there. It decimated our offices and flooded the main street in downtown Miami.” When the suggestion is made that documentary could be made like was done with Apocalypse Now (1979), Goldenberg laughs, “You could make it. There is a lot of behind the scenes footage.”
“They had shot a real boat race off the coast of Miami but at the end of the day Michael decided to take it out of the movie and start with the club scene,” remarks William Goldenberg. “In the director’s cut of the movie he put the boat race back in.” The film editor was able to leave the cutting room and get an adrenaline rush. “I went out when they shot the scene that took place on the drug freighter. They took me out in the middle of the night on a fast boat. We were going over 60 miles per hour and it was pitch black in the ocean. It was an exhilarating experience for somebody who is seasick but we were going so fast it didn’t matter!”
“My favourite sequence that I did in Miami Vice was when they were trying to rescue Trudy (Naomie Harris) from the meth dealers,” remarks William Goldenberg. “It was a difficult movie to make work because we were at a grand scale at first and as the process wore on we tried to make it more lean and gritty.” A significant aspect of the original Miami Vice was the incorporation of contemporary tunes and artists like with In the Air Tonight. “The big thing in that was the choice of whether to use Phil Collin’s song. We went back and forth on whether we should use it. We ended up with a version of it that another band did and that was up to the last minute, ‘What do you think we should do?’ We didn’t know whether the audience would roll their eyes or be mad that we didn’t use it. Originally, Jay-Z was going to do the soundtrack and that didn’t work out. There was a lot of pressure to have the music be special in the movie. It is special. The soundtrack for that movie is underrated. Michael is always pushing the envelope trying to do something new and great, and he succeeded there.”
Many thanks to William Goldenberg for taking the time for this interview.