It has been 35 years since Streets of Fire hit theaters, a box office disaster that has gone on to become one of the most beloved cult films.
“It was a rock and roll western with a fantastic cast, directed by Walter Hill, who is a genius,” explained Michael Paré. He played Tom Cody, a mercenary who returns home to find out his ex-girlfriend, played by Diane Lane, has been kidnapped by the leader of a biker gang, played by Willem Dafoe.
“The soundtrack was also incredible. It still is. Streets of Fire was this big studio movie that we made on the backlot at Universal Studios. It was kind of scary for me because to play such a hero, and to be so young was a lot of pressure. I don’t think there was anybody in the cast over 30 years old. Diane turned 18 on set. We were all kids. It’s not like we had this world of experience behind us.”
Streets of Fire was not a hit. It grossed just $8.1 million against its $14.5 million budget. It debuted in fifth place at the box office with $2.43 million.
“I’ve heard several explanations for why it didn’t open big,” Paré recalled. “One is that it opened against Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and just after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They were both huge.”
Despite the film’s theatrical drubbing, the film continues to be celebrated. I’m one of those people who love Streets of Fire. In a time of reboots, remakes, and sequels, would the actor consider a revival of some kind?
“No-one has ever called me about it, but I would love to do that, absolutely. Tom Cody was a great character; he was this guy riding into town on a motorcycle instead of a horse, settling problems,” he said. “It reminded me of Westerns, but when we were shooting the movie, Andrew Laszlo, the cinematographer, told me that Greek tragedies inspired a lot of Walter’s stories. Streets of Fire was inspired by Helen of Troy. When you have a basic plot like that, great characters, and a whole world to play in, you could easily do five or ten hours of television. I would do it in a second.”
Paré added: “I am and surprised it has never come up. I’ve spoken to the film’s producer, Larry Gordon, and Walter, and there are all kinds of politics involved about who owns what, who owns the title, who owns the music, who owns the characters, and all that kind of stuff. It does complicate things.”
“If Streets of Fire was made today, would it have worked out better or differently? I don’t know. The core story would work, absolutely, but a lot of the movie is about the music. It wasn’t music from that time, it was rock and roll and other stuff, but they’ve never gone out of fashion and still influence music today. It would probably still work if updated a bit. It’s hard to say, but it would be worth giving it a chance. I would genuinely love that.”
Paré has over 163 acting credits and has worked consistently in TV and film since the early 80s. His latest movie, the indie Western Once Upon a Time in Deadwood, has just been released, he’s currently filming a thriller, has four more films completed, four in post-production, and seven more in pre-production. Michael Paré has never gone out of fashion and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Some consider him something of an icon, but how does he see himself and his career?
“I think I’ve lasted because I continue to evolve as an actor and as a person. I never sit back and wait for stuff,” he explained. “When I’m not working, I study. I go to The Actors Studio and work on plays. The more I learn about what I do, and how to do it better, the more stuff I get to share with the audience.”
“The industry has changed a lot over the years, and now there are bigger audiences, more ways for people to consume content, which means more opportunities. That excites me. There are hundreds of channels on cable, there are so many streaming options, and they can specialize in content like Westerns or horror or thrillers or action drama or romance.”
He concluded: “I’m just an actor, an actor who has been lucky enough to have had a few great roles that people still talk about and like. I worked with Bruce Dern not too long ago, and he was making movies in the early 60s. He’s still working. Now, he’s an icon.”
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood is out now.