Roland Emmerich on the struggle to cast Heath Ledger in The Patriot

In issue 208 of Total Film magazine , we chat to Roland Emmerich and the stars of White House Down to discuss the explosive actioner.

The film sees Channing Tatum’s federal agent step up to the role of presidential bodyguard when 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue comes under attack.

You can read the full feature inside the issue (snap it up for just £1.99 on your iPad (opens in new tab) ), but for now, here’s an outtake of what Emmerich had to say when talk turned to his experience with Mel Gibson on The Patriot , and the process of casting Heath Ledger:

“I was, at the beginning, a little too shy to talk to the actors. I was super nervous to direct Mel Gibson [ in The Patriot]. He also had a different opinion about who should play his son. I had to pretty much call him up and say to go with Heath Ledger, and he said, ‘Okay, you’re the director.’ And I said, ‘Okay, yes I am.’ And then he hung up.”

And, Emmerich - the reigning king of the disaster movie - also told us about what scares him in real life:

“Step into an airplane, the first thing I think is I’m going down. Every little noise, I’m like, ‘Excuse me, have you noticed...?’ Honest to God, I don’t like to go to Vancouver because the air is so choppy. Flying in one of these little private jets through the Vancouver air space is frightening.

“The last time I was in Cancun, I was with George Clooney in the plane. And he said, ‘I’m flying back in a commercial flight.’ Right after, I said, ‘They would have said ‘George Clooney and others...’”

White House Down opens in the UK 6 September 2013, after a 28 June 2013 bow in the US.

For much more from Roland Emmerich, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, pick up Total Film magazine issue 208, which is out now!

Read a full preview of Total Film magazine issue 208

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The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, New Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Jack Shepherd. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.