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9 Directors Who Remade Their Own Films

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Remaking classic films for modern audiences is nothing new, but it seems as if Hollywood studios are churning out more remakes than originals every year. Usually, new directors are brought on to remake older films—but occasionally, the same director who made the original will be given the chance to remake his or her own work. Here are nine directors who did just that.

1. Yasujiro Ozu

Original Film: A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)

Remake: Floating Weeds (1959)

To take advantage of modern filmmaking technology such as sound and color cinematography, Yasujiro Ozu remade his 1934 silent film A Story of Floating Weeds in 1959 and called it Floating Weeds. While Ozu re-visited the same themes, stories, and artistic flourishes from film to film over his 35-year career, Floating Weeds is a more delicate and flavorful film than the original black and white version.

2. Michael Haneke

Original Film: Funny Games (1997)

Remake: Funny Games (2007)

In 2007, Michael Haneke released a shot-for-shot remake of his 1997 Austrian psychological thriller for American audiences. It featured a new cast—Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, and Brady Corbet—and relocated the setting from Austria to Long Island, New York. The original is in German, and the remake in English. Aside from those changes, both versions of Funny Games are exactly the same, and involve a wealthy family being held hostage and tortured with sadistic and vicious physical and psychological attacks.

3. Michael Mann

Original Film: L.A. Takedown (1989)

Remake: Heat (1995)

In 1989, Michael Mann wrote and directed a made-for-TV movie called L.A. Takedown for NBC. The original screenplay for the flick was 180 pages, which Mann had to cut down to 110 pages to fit its TV-timeslot.

After the success of The Last of the Mohicans in 1992, Mann returned to L.A. Takedown and elaborated on its narrative, characters, and themes; it became Heat, which was released theatrically in 1995. Heat is a layered film with several subplots and deeper characters, whereas L.A. Takedown is simpler and more straightforward.

4. George Sluizer

Original Film: Spoorloos (1988)

Remake: The Vanishing (1993)

When the Dutch film Spoorloos (which translates to Without a Trace) was released in 1988, it was a critical and commercial success—not just in the Netherlands, but around the world. It received top awards and accolades from top film critics and organizations, and Hollywood recruited the original director, George Sluzer, to make an English version of the film for American audiences. That film, called The Vanishing, was poorly received for its lack of nuance, broad characters, and its new (happy) ending. To many cinephiles and film critics, The Vanishing is a pale comparison to Sluzer's original.

5. Cecil B. DeMille

Original Film: The Ten Commandments (1923)

Remake: The Ten Commandments (1956)

Director Cecil B. DeMille didn't shy away from large-scale set pieces, over-populated crowds, and giant film productions. In 1956, he returned to his original 1923 silent epic The Ten Commandments with the intent of making a bigger and grander version. The Ten Commandments remake featured heavyweight actors including Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, and Edward G. Robinson, but also took advantage of new filmmaking technology such as eye-popping Technicolor, sizzling sound, and award-winning special effects.

6. Takashi Shimizu

Original Film: Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

Remake: The Grudge (2004)

The third film in director Takashi Shimizu's Ju-on series, Ju-on: The Grudge, was such a hit in Japan that it got the attention of major American movie studios. Sony Pictures Entertainment commissioned Shimizu to remake his original film for American audiences.

The American remake focused on only one of the original film’s six interconnected short vignettes and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bill Pullman, and Jason Behr. The Grudge remake received a mixed critical response, but managed to spawn a new American film series with two subsequent sequels.

7. Ole Bornedal

Original Film: Nattevageten (1994)

Remake: Nightwatch (1997)

In 1997, director Ole Bornedal released an American remake to his 1994 genre film Nattevageten, which translates to Nightwatch. The English-language version was almost a shot-for-shot remake of the Danish original, but starred Ewan McGregor as the university student who takes a job at a morgue as a night watchman; Bornedal shared screenwriting credits with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. The remake was not as well received as the original, however; critics believed the new film was too shiny and glossy.

8. Alfred Hitchcock

Original Film: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Remake: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Alfred Hitchcock’s 51-year career spanned many eras of movie-making, but perhaps the best example of the director's progression as a true master of suspense is The Man Who Knew Too Much: the original 1934 film and its remake, released 22 years later in 1956.

While the original has its merits with a resourceful heroine played by Edna Best and a very effective villain played by Peter Lorre, the American remake is far more polished and intricate, with Doris Day and James Stewart in the main roles. Although Day is more passive than Best and the villain is not as memorable as the original film’s, The Man Who Knew Too Much remake is Hitchcock’s favorite between the two films.

In the legendary Alfred Hitchcock biography by French director and film critic François Truffaut, Hitchcock said of the two films, "Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional.”

9. John Woo

Original Film: Once a Thief (1991)

Remake: Once a Thief (1996)

Hong Kong action director John Woo remade his 1991 crime film Once a Thief as a made-for-TV movie for the Fox Network in 1996. While both versions showcased John Woo’s talent for creating breathtaking action as well as lighthearted comedy and romance, the 1996 made-for-TV remake also served as a backdoor TV pilot for a new series.

Ultimately, Fox passed on the John Woo TV series, but Canadian CTV Television Network ordered 22 episodes of the crime family action series in 1997. Billed as John Woo’s Once a Thief, the TV series was canceled after one season in 1998.

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© 2017 USPS
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Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

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Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
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15 Surprising Facts About Steve Buscemi
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

With his meme-worthy eyes, tireless work schedule, and penchant for playing lovable losers, Steve Buscemi is arguably the king of character actors. Moving seamlessly between big-budget films and shoestring independent projects, he’s appeared in well over 100 movies in the past 30 years. But if you think he’s anything like the oddballs and villains he regularly plays—well, you don’t know Buscemi. In celebration of the Brooklyn native's 60th birthday, here are 15 things you might not have known about the Golden Globe-winning actor.

1. HE WAS BORN ON A FRIDAY THE 13TH.

It only seems appropriate that Buscemi, who dies on screen so frequently, would be born on such a foreboding date. Growing up in Brooklyn and Valley Stream, New York, Buscemi also experienced plenty of real-life misfortune. As a kid, he was hit by a bus and by a car (in separate incidents). On the plus side, he used the money from the legal settlement following the bus accident to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City.

2. HE WAS A NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER.

As a teenager, Buscemi worked a series of odd jobs: ice cream truck driver, mover, gas station attendant. He even sold newspapers in the toll lane of the Triborough Bridge. When Buscemi turned 18, his father, a sanitation worker, encouraged his son to take the civil service exam and become a New York City firefighter. Four years later, in 1980, the future star became a member of Engine Co. 55, located in New York City's Little Italy district. While he answered emergency calls during the day, at night Buscemi played improv clubs and auditioned for acting roles.

After four years working for the FDNY, Buscemi landed one of the lead roles in Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances (1986), a drama set during the early days of AIDS in New York. Buscemi took a three-month leave of absence during filming, and afterwards decided not to return.

3. HE FORMED A COMEDY DUO WITH SONS OF ANARCHY’S MARK BOONE, JR.

For a brief while, Buscemi tried his hand at stand-up comedy (he bombed). In 1984, he met fellow aspiring actor Mark Boone, Jr., and the two began performing together. Part improv, part scripted comedy, the two would often carry out power struggles that pitted thin-man Buscemi against the larger Boone. The New York Times called their act “theater in the absurdist vein.”

4. HE DID NOT AUDITION FOR THE ROLE OF GEORGE COSTANZA.

Like any hard-working actor, Buscemi has had his share of failed auditions. His tryout for Alan Parker’s Fame lasted less than 30 seconds. In the late ‘80s, Martin Scorsese brought him in four different times to read for The Last Temptation of Christ. (Buscemi ended up reading every apostle’s part before being turned away.) He also auditioned for the part of Seinfeld’s George Costanza—at least according to numerous sources, including Jason Alexander himself. But it turns out this tidbit—fueled, no doubt, by the thought of a very twitchy, bug-eyed Costanza—isn’t true. On a recent episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Buscemi addressed the rumor in his typical good-natured way: “I never did [the audition] and I don’t know how to correct it because I don’t know how the Internet works.”

5. TREES LOUNGE WAS BASICALLY HIS LIFE AT 19.

After gaining momentum with roles in Mystery Train, Reservoir Dogs, Barton Fink, and other films, Buscemi took a turn behind the camera with 1996’s Trees Lounge. The movie, which he also wrote, follows a bumbling layabout named Tommy who spends most of his time at the title bar in the town where he grew up. It’s a classic flick for Buscemi fans and, according to the actor, it was pretty much his life as a teenager living on Long Island. “I was truly directionless, living with my parents,” Buscemi said in an interview. “I was driving an ice-cream truck and working at a gas station… The drinking age was 18 then, so I spent every night hanging out with my friends in bars, drinking.”

6. HE IS FULLY AWARE THAT HIS CHARACTERS OFTEN DIE.

Steve Buscemi in 'Fargo' (1996)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

He’s been shot numerous times, stabbed with an ice pick, riddled with throwing knives, tossed off a balcony, and fed to a wood chipper. Yes, Buscemi’s characters have died a variety of deaths, and the actor isn’t without a sense of humor about the whole matter. He’ll often joke in interviews that he’s living longer and longer as the years go by. Before the 2005 release of The Island, in which the aforementioned balcony-tossing occurs (and into a glass bar no less), Buscemi said he was happy his character lived almost a third of the way through the movie. Buscemi admitted that he will actually read ahead in any script he receives to see when and how he dies.

7. HE HAS A FAVORITE DEATH—AND IT ISN’T FARGO.

For connoisseurs of Buscemi's movie deaths, the demise of Fargo’s Carl Showalter by way of axe then wood chipper is the crème de la crème. But when asked about his own favorite onscreen death, Buscemi references another Coen brothers film: The Big Lebowski. In that movie his character, Donny Kerabatsos, succumbs to a heart attack. It’s a surprise for viewers, and so out-of-the-blue that Buscemi can’t help but be tickled at the randomness of it. “They thought, ‘Well, Buscemi’s in it, so we’ve gotta kill him,'" the actor said in an appearance on The Daily Show.

8. HIS CHARACTER IN CON AIR WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM.

In Con Air, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action movie filled with muscled-up prisoners, Buscemi played the most dangerous con of them all. His Garland Greene—a serial killer whose exploits “make the Manson family look like the Partridge family,” according to one character—enters the film strapped to a chair, Hannibal Lecter mask affixed to his face. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, a friend of Buscemi’s, wrote the part with him in mind, and was tickled when Buscemi accepted the role. To this day, fans will still serenade the actor with “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

9. HIS CHARACTER IN DESPERADO IS NAMED AFTER HIM.

Steve Buscemi in Desperado
Columbia Pictures

Although he inevitably dies (courtesy of Danny Trejo’s throwing knives), Buscemi commands the opening of Desperado, Robert Rodriguez’s stylish revenge movie, regaling bar patrons with the story of the title gunslinger, played by Antonio Banderas. Because his character’s name is never mentioned, Rodriguez decided to have some fun and name him "Buscemi" in the credits.

10. HE WON’T FIX HIS TEETH.

Buscemi’s crooked smile has helped him portray lowlifes and losers throughout his career. Dentists have offered to fix the actor’s teeth, but he always turns them down, knowing how valuable those chompers are to the Buscemi brand. In a guest starring role on The Simpsons, Buscemi poked fun at the matter after a dentist offers to straighten his character’s teeth: “You’re going to kill my livelihood if you do that!”

11. THERE’S SOME CONFUSION OVER HOW TO PRONOUNCE HIS LAST NAME.

Many people pronounce his last name “Boo-shemmy,” but it turns out Buscemi himself pronounces it “Boo-semmy.” In interviews, Buscemi says he’s following his father’s pronunciation, and says he doesn’t begrudge anyone who says it differently. It turns out, though, that his fans have it right—or at least mostly right. On a trip to Sicily to visit family, Buscemi recounted recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he noticed everyone saying “Boo-SHAY-me.”

12. HE GOT STABBED IN A BAR FIGHT.

Steve Buscemi in 'Trees Lounge' (1996)
Live Entertainment

On April 12th, 2001, while filming Domestic Disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina, Buscemi, co-star Vince Vaughn, and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg went out for late night drinks at the Firebelly Lounge. After Vaughn traded insults with another patron (whose girlfriend had apparently been flirting with Vaughn), the two stepped outside, and a brief scuffle ensued before the two were separated. Buscemi, who was among the crowd that had gathered, was then confronted by a man who, after a brief exchange, attacked the actor with a pocketknife. Buscemi suffered stab wounds to his face, throat, and hands, and had to return to New York to recuperate. His attacker, Timothy Fogerty, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. In typical good-guy fashion, Buscemi declined to press additional charges and instead insisted Fogerty enter a substance abuse program.

13. HE REJOINED HIS FIRE ENGINE IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

After the horrific attack on New York City’s Twin Towers on September 11, Buscemi—like many Americans—was desperate to help. Although it had been nearly 20 years since he had strapped on his fireman’s gear, the actor reunited with his Engine 55 brethren and for days scoured the towers’ debris for survivors. Buscemi didn’t want his actions publicized; when people asked to take his picture, he declined. It took more than 10 years, in fact, before word got out, thanks to a Facebook post from Engine 55. “Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble,” the post read. “This guy is a badass!”

14. HE NARRATES THE AUDIO TOUR AT EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY.

People who take a tour of the historic Philadelphia prison may notice a familiar voice coming through their listening device. So how did Buscemi end up lending his talents to such a seemingly obscure place? It turns out Eastern State is a popular location for film and photo shoots. Scenes from Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys were filmed there, as were album covers for artists like Tina Turner. In 2000, Buscemi scouted the penitentiary for a film project. The location didn’t work out, but the actor fell in love with the history and grand architecture of the 190-year-old prison. When officials asked for his help to celebrate the prison’s tenth year running tours, he agreed.

15. HE DIDN’T BELIEVE TERENCE WINTER WHEN HE OFFERED HIM THE LEAD IN BOARDWALK EMPIRE.


HBO

After years of playing disposable villains and losers on the periphery, Buscemi had grown accustomed to being passed over for leading roles. So when Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter offered him the part of corrupt politician Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in the award-winning HBO series, Buscemi offered his usual reply. “When Terry did call me and he said that he and Marty [Scorsese] wanted me to play this role, my response was, ‘Terry, I know you’re looking at other actors, and I just appreciate that my name is being thrown in,’" Buscemi recalled. "He said, ‘No, Steve, I just said we want you.’ It still didn’t sink in.” Eventually, of course, reality did sink in, and Buscemi went on to win a Golden Globe and Emmy Award across the show’s five seasons.

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