Kurt Russell Loves His Escape From New York Character, but Won’t “Bleed” Him for Money

Summary

  • Snake Plissken, the iconic protagonist of Escape From New York, is an escape artist doomed to never escape from himself.
  • The deleted train station scene aimed to show redeeming qualities in Snake, but director John Carpenter felt he shouldn’t have any.
  • Kurt Russell is not interested in financially exploiting the character of Snake Plissken without the involvement of John Carpenter, preferring to create new iconic characters.


When it comes to iconic cult movies, John Carpenter’s Escape From New York is one of the most iconic of the 1980s, and Snake Plissken is one of Kurt Russell’s greatest characters. In a recent sit-down interview with GQ, Russell revisited the 1981 movie, sharing his thoughts on the movie’s legacy.

In the dystopian movie, Plissken is a cool and dangerous protagonist who is anti-establishment to his core. However, for Russell, there are certain aspects that really make him love the character. He said:

I like a lot about Snake. He’s an escape artist, is really what he is and he’s doomed to never be able to escape the one thing he wants to escape from and that’s himself. He’s got this equal amount of psychosis and survivability. They go together. I like that about Snake.

Russell continued to share details on one of the deleted scenes from Escape from New York, which involved giving Plissken some kind of “redeeming qualities.” However, Carpenter decided that there was no purpose in doing that to the character, because he was not that kind of person. Russell said:

“We started out doing some stuff that ended up not being in the movie with a train station sequence, sort of establishing the character of snake and he had a partner and got shot and Snake actually ran back to help him. They caught them. It was a redeeming quality is what we were showing. John Carpenter decided, rightly so, that Snake didn’t have any redeeming qualities. After we did a couple of takes of that train sequence, he came over and he whispered this f-cking character is great! I always felt that Snake was always just talking to himself, he was never really talking to anybody.”

Related

John Carpenter Thinks Escape from New York Franchise Has Two More Snake Plissken Stories

The director of the cult classic has said that he could see Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken appear in two further tales.


Kurt Russell Has No Interest in “Bleeding” Snake Plissken

Kurt Russell in Escape from New York
AVCO Embassy Pictures

Although Russell reprised the role of Snake Plissken in the belated sequel Escape from L.A., he is not one for needlessly returning to a character just to make a financial bonus from it. Despite being offered the chance to do other things with the character, without a purpose, or the involvement of John Carpenter, Russell just isn’t interested. He said:

“I come from a different era. I wasn’t interested in expanding financially off of something that we had created, or I had created in terms of a character. And I get business people, sure, [saying] ‘We could do this with that’ or ‘We could do this with that.’ And I look at it and go, that’s not written by John, that doesn’t smell right. If John’s not here to do that with then why am I…I’m not gonna do that. Let’s go do something new, let’s go do something fresh. Let’s go create another iconic character, rather than saying what can we bleed off this iconic character. I mean you don’t look at them as iconic characters. They call them that if they become iconic characters, but you’re just running day to day running and having a good time and trying to make it work.”

There has been renewed talk of a possible third movie in the Escape from… franchise, with Scream VI helmers Radio Silence planing on bringing the franchise back with their own take on the story.

Escape from New York is currently streaming on The Criterion Channel. Kurt Russell has most recently appeared in the MonsterVerse series, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, which can be found on Apple TV+.

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