I first saw Armageddon at an Academy screening in June of 1998. It gave me a headache because of the machine-gun-like cutting, which I was later told was a result of a deliberate Michael Bay strategy of cutting out as many frames as possible in each scene order to make the film play as fast, hard and compressed as possible. This information came from Armageddon screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh, who claimed that the film was “frame-fucked” as a result.

In any event, when I saw Armageddon producer Jerry Bruckheimer in the lobby after the screening I did the usual chickenshit industry thing — I half-lied. I told Jerry that the film “rocked” or felt like “rocket fuel.” (Which wasn’t a total lie — it did feel like that, sort of.) As soon as I said this, however, Bruckheimer cocked his head and gave me a “look.” He knew I was snowing him, and I knew that he knew. I felt like a snivelling coward, possibly due to the fact that I was being precisely that.

I shared this moment with a director friend earlier today, and he told me one of his own. A very big (one could use the word “legendary”) producer-director told him that an actress in a scene he was directing was “fucking smiling” too often, “just like fucking Tom Cruise…always smiling, always with the teeth. Tell her to cut it out.” The director later spoke to the actress, who had seen him speaking with the big-name producer. “Did he say anything about me?” she asked. The director replied, “He compared you to Tom Cruise.”