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The Untold Truth Of The Road House Remake

Doug Liman's "Road House" remake, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, aims to capture the magic and appeal of the original 1989 film. Despite harsh reviews and five Razzie nominations, the Rowdy Herrington-directed movie flexed its superiority at the box office and established the late Patrick Swayze as a legitimate action superstar. It transcended the initial negative publicity to become a bona fide cult classic and staple of the genre that has been celebrated by fans ever since. Not surprisingly, this is the sort of film that's an obvious choice to be remade for modern audiences in an attempt to recreate the lightning-in-a-bottle effect and bank on the goodwill of the name.

The road toward the reboot hasn't been without its bumps and detours, though. From the exit of a high-profile star to a major bust-up between the producer and Amazon Studios, as well as the director threatening to boycott the premiere, the behind-the-scenes story of this production is arguably as riveting and intense as the bruising action on screen. In fact, it's astonishing that the film was able to overcome these significant obstacles and hurdles in the first place, since these are major events that could have killed any other project.

With that in mind, let's take a look at all the juicy details surrounding the 2024 "Road House" remake and its unique journey toward release.

Ronda Rousey was originally cast as the lead

In 2024's "Road House," Elwood Dalton is introduced as an ex-UFC fighter-turned-bouncer who smashes faces and looks cooler than Vanilla Ice while doing so. It appears as if the backstory of making the main character an MMA-trained scrapper has been present since the early days of the reboot as well. In 2015, UFC Hall of Famer and former champion Ronda Rousey was selected to play the lead in the movie. The superstar even reportedly reached out to Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi, out of respect for Swayze's legacy before accepting the role.

At this stage of her life, Rousey was transitioning out of her in-ring fighting career and making inroads into Hollywood, appearing in "The Expendables 3," "Furious 7," and "Entourage." However, "Road House" would have given her the unique opportunity to lead a high-profile movie for the first time and show the world that she's a legitimate actor, while still allowing her to show off her bone-breaking combat skills. This version of the film never came to fruition, though, as the production experienced several challenges and delays that eventually saw it shift into an altogether different direction.

For Rousey, her acting career didn't really take off either. Instead, she spent a few years getting rowdy as an on-screen performer in the WWE.

Nick Cassavetes was meant to write and direct the reboot

There's only one word to describe actor, writer, and director Nick Cassavetes: versatility. As a director, he has proven more than adept at turning on the waterworks with poignant romantic dramas, such as "The Notebook," as easily as he is capable of pumping out action-packed thrill machines, like "God Is a Bullet." Even so, it must have been surprising to see his name linked as the writer-director of the "Road House" remake in 2015.

The original film's script by David Lee Henry and Hilary Henkin wasn't what anyone would term an Aaron Sorkin-inspired masterclass in screenwriting, while the movie itself played out as typical '80s action fodder. This never seemed like the kind of project that would appeal to someone of Cassavetes' stature and reputation as a filmmaker who tends to add more depth to his films.

However, since this was an all-new interpretation of the story — with Ronda Rousey attached as the lead — the purported intent was that Cassavetes would bring his writing acumen, specifically his ability to write convincing and powerful female characters, and deliver something special for this adaptation. Ultimately, much like Rousey, Cassavetes ended up departing the project after it failed to get out of the starting blocks for years.

Jake Gyllenhaal took inspiration from Patrick Swayze

A major reason for the success of 1989's "Road House" is Patrick Swayze's sizzling performance as John Dalton. Swayze brought the holy trinity of charisma, toughness, and a general likability to the character, cementing Dalton as one of the most unforgettable action heroes of the '80s. Consequently, it's difficult to imagine anyone but him in this role since he put so much of himself into it.

Fortunately, the filmmakers behind the "Road House" remake had the common sense to not make the new movie a beat-for-beat reboot. They chose to tweak elements of the story, including changing John Dalton into Elwood Dalton while also altering his backstory. That said, Jake Gyllenhaal admitted to taking inspiration from Swayze's performance for his own portrayal of Dalton.

"They're big shoes to fill, but Patrick was a friend when he was here," Gyllenhaal told "Good Morning America," recalling how he and Swayze appeared in 2001's "Donnie Darko" together. "He was always so loving and lovely to me. I take that all to heart in playing the role and there are some things I take from him, but generally we made a whole new movie and I'm really excited about it."

Jake Gyllenhaal got seriously jacked for the movie

Jake Gyllenhaal might not be sending live rats to his co-stars like some Method actors, but he shows incredible commitment and dedication to his roles as he puts in a high level of preparation to be convincing on screen. One only needs to look at his intense physical transformation for 2015's boxing drama "Southpaw" as a prime example of the work he's willing to put in for a part.

For the "Road House" remake, Gyllenhaal hit the gym and got in serious shape to play Elwood Dalton. Of course, his previous experience on "Southpaw" only aided him in getting jacked here, but he also had the assistance of his trainer Jason Walsh, who has worked with the actor for nearly a decade. 

Walsh praised Gyllenhaal's willingness to sweat for success, revealing to Insider that the actor needs to be told to take rest days as he's constantly active, even when he isn't in the gym. "If he's not in the gym doing strength training and conditioning, he's swimming, he's outside playing paddle tennis, he cycles like crazy," Walsh said. "The guy does everything. He's just always looking for that stimulus." The trainer added that Gyllenhaal worked with a dietician and attended VersaClimber classes, which further helped him to get leaner and look more like an MMA fighter.

Joel Silver was fired as producer

In Hollywood circles, Joel Silver is renowned for producing some of the greatest and most popular action movies of all time, such as "Die Hard," "The Matrix," and "Lethal Weapon." He was also the producer behind the original "Road House" film, so it made sense to have him involved in the reboot. In late 2023, however, Silver was fired from the "Road House" remake as well as another Amazon MGM production due to alleged verbal abuse toward female executives.

However, sources close to Silver disputed these claims. They suggested that the famed producer had simmering conflicts with the studio over two sticking points: the fact that "Road House" was going direct to streaming, and the studio's reported desire to finish the film using AI during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. According to an explosive Variety report, events spiraled out of control so drastically that Ari Emanuel, CEO of the Endeavor talent and media agency, tried to intervene to keep Silver involved and smooth the waters. Alas, it was all in vain.

Silver's camp alleged that the producer was fired in retaliation for him airing his grievances. Nonetheless, he still receives a producer credit on "Road House."

Jake Gyllenhaal took real punches to prepare for the role

While there's a certain degree of preparation and physical strain that goes into any role, no one expects an actor to get punched for real. After all, it's called "acting" for a reason, and most insurance companies will sound the alarm bells and raise everyone's premiums as punishment if a part calls for excessive force from a performer. For Jake Gyllenhaal, though, he was determined to not only look like an MMA fighter in "Road House," but to also be conditioned as one.

As revealed in a behind-the-scenes video posted on his official Instagram account, Gyllenhaal sparred with stuntman Steve Brown. Drenched in sweat, the pair exchanged blows; however, the next scene showed a more painful part of their session, as Brown punched Gyllenhaal in the abdominal muscles to condition him. And it didn't look like Brown held back his blows either.

"What we're doing is real," Gyllenhaal said in the video. "Never been done before. It's real. We don't mess around. And don't do this at home. Excuse me while I pee blood."

An original Road House actor had one criticism of the remake

Marshall Teague's breakout role was playing Jimmy Reno in the original "Road House." It opened all the right doors for him as an actor, as he went on to appear in the likes of "Babylon 5," "Walker, Texas Ranger," "The Rock," and "Armageddon." After the first trailer for the "Road House" remake dropped, everyone had opinions on it — including Teague.

Speaking to TMZ Sports, Teague praised both Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor, calling the former "a fantastic actor" and the latter "a incredible fighter." However, he found one jarring element in the trailer that he couldn't quite get past. "The one thing I found humorous was the sound of the hits in the fight," Teague said. "I don't know — they're a little off to me, but that's okay."

He added how time will be the true judge of whether or not the remake manages to leave its mark like the original film did, even though he said the 1989 movie had a special quality to it that could never be replicated. Nonetheless, Teague wished everyone well with the release of the film.

Conor McGregor said Jake Gyllenhaal helped him

One of the biggest surprises in the "Road House" remake is the appearance of Conor McGregor, who plays Knox in the film. The brash and notorious Irishman is better known for his escapades inside the octagon of the UFC and his blockbuster press conferences, where he winds up the media and his opponents with his verbal flair. With such attitude and personality, it's no wonder Hollywood came knocking eventually, and "Road House" marks his first major venture into the world of acting.

McGregor showered praise on his co-star Jake Gyllenhaal for his assistance during filming, telling the Daily Mail, "Great man. Great guy. He's very patient with me, helpful ... We shot some good stuff for the movie and can't wait to see it come to fruition."

In a separate interview, McGregor revealed how unexpectedly grueling it was to make the movie, saying it was even more draining than the training camps he undertook in preparation for his fights. He explained how he performed his stunts and fight scenes, which often took up more than half his day, then would have to be back on set and ready to go again in practically no time.

Daniela Melchior praised Conor McGregor's performance

Another notable actor who appears in 2024's "Road House" is Daniela Melchior, who many fans will recognize from her roles as Ratcatcher 2 and Isabel Neves in "The Suicide Squad" and "Fast X," respectively. In the film, Melchior portrays the character of Ellie, and the Portuguese actor had the opportunity to watch Conor McGregor make his feature film debut in "Road House." 

Impressed by his level of commitment and desire to put in a good performance, she commended the MMA champion for his tireless efforts and overall enthusiasm on set. Undoubtedly, this is high praise coming from Melchior, who has also shared the screen with a number of action stars such as Liam Neeson, Vin Diesel, Alan Ritchson, John Cena, and Idris Elba. "It was so fun to see a fully grown man doing something for the first time, and he really looked like a young kid doing something for the first time," Melchior told Collider, adding that "it was amazing to watch."

Jake Gyllenhaal filmed at an actual UFC event

While it's all too easy to use CGI or movie-magic sleight of hand to trick viewers, "Road House" committed to its MMA scenes by filming them in a real octagon and in front of a real audience. In fact, even the weigh-in scene between Jake Gyllenhaal's Elwood Dalton and former fighter Jay Hieron took place in front of the crowd that had just witnessed the official weigh-ins for UFC 285.

Then, at the actual UFC fight night, the crew filmed the scenes of Dalton and Hieron's clash as the crowd and commentators watched. One person who saw it all unfold and made a cameo was UFC President and CEO Dana White.

White revealed to Insider that this collaborative effort between the UFC and the "Road House" crew went off without a hitch. He also found the time to praise Gyllenhaal's impressive physique, joking: "Listen, what can I say? He looks good. I don't think he's been USADA tested, but he looks great."

Doug Liman isn't happy his Road House is going straight to streaming

In the lead-up to the release of 2024's "Road House," Doug Liman said he would boycott the premiere of the movie he directed at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Liman penned a column for Deadline where he explained his reasons, writing that he originally signed up with MGM to make a theatrical movie. When MGM was bought by Amazon Studios, Liman claimed that the executives told him to focus on making a good movie and that they would determine how to distribute it, since they had committed to putting big movies in theaters. 

"We made 'Road House' a 'smash hit' — Amazon's words not mine," Liman wrote. "'Road House' tested higher than my biggest box office hit, 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith.' It tested higher than 'Bourne Identity,' which spawned four sequels." Amazon, though, has stuck to its streaming-only plan. Liman expressed his disappointment at the studio for not considering a theatrical release, explaining how he tried to convince them otherwise for the benefit of the industry. "If we don't put tentpole movies in movie theaters, there won't be movie theaters in the future," he wrote.

Sources also said that Liman and others were given an option to make the movie for $60 million, which would make it eligible for theatrical release, or $85 million for a straight-to-streaming deal. Reportedly, the filmmakers took the $85 million option.

This is actually the third Road House movie

There's a 35-year gap between the original "Road House" and the remake; however, there was another related project sandwiched in between these films. In 2006, "Road House 2: Last Call" made its way to home video. Directed by Scott Ziehl, whose biggest credit is 2004's "Cruel Intentions 3," the film follows the story of Shane Tanner, a DEA agent and the son of John Dalton, who helps his uncle out and provides muscle to the bar when it gets out of hand. At the same time, Tanner sniffs around to solve the mystery of who killed his father years ago.

Starring as Tanner is Johnathon Schaech, whom DC fans might recognize for playing Jonah Hex in the Arrowverse. But he can't do too much to save this C-grade offering, as "Road House 2" proves to be about as appetizing as a two-week-old hot dog from an actual roadhouse. Film Freak Central's Bill Chambers wrote, "It sits there like a dead frog waiting for the electrodes," and gave the sequel a score of zero out of four stars.