Over the course of his 30 years in Hollywood, director
Roland Emmerich has largely built a career on destroying the world, whether it
be with aliens (Independence Day), mutant lizards (Godzilla), or
extreme weather (2012, The Day After Tomorrow).
The 59-year-old openly gay director is not known for
historical dramas, only delving into the genre twice before with The Patriot,
a fictionalized account of the American Revolutionary War, and Anonymous,
which used creative license to tell the story of British playwright Edward de
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In a landmark year for LGBT rights, Emmerich has adapted the
story of the 1969 Stonewall Riots for the big screen. The retelling of the
clash between police and members of the LGBT community, which sparked the gay
rights movement, is told through the fictional eyes of Danny (played by Jeremy Irvine),
who flees to New York City.
Stonewall, which premiered at the Toronto
International Film Festival, has come under fire for reportedly “whitewashing”
the riots by focusing primarily on a white male character, despite there being
a large number of transgender individuals and people of color prominently
involved in the altercation. Emmerich has since responded on Facebook.
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"I understand that following the release of our trailer
there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is
portrayed,” he wrote, “but when this film -- which is truly a labor of love for
me -- finally comes to theaters, audiences will see that it deeply honors the
real-life activists who were there -- including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia
Rivera, and Ray Castro -- and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights
movement which continues to this day. We are all the same in our struggle for
Following a screening of the film, ETonline sat down with
Emmerich to discuss the film’s controversy, what the story means to him, and
how he handles the pressure of it all.