NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Twisters

Why You “Can’t Fake" Twisters Details with Steven Spielberg: “He’s Seen Every YouTube Tornado Video”

Twisters arrives on the big screen Friday, July 19.

By Josh Weiss

It stands to reason that the man who ushered in a new age of visual effects with Jurassic Park (visual effects, we might add, that still hold up more than three decades later) would be able to spot a phony-looking visual from a mile away.

All of the projects Steven Spielberg either directs or produces are held to quite the high standard, as Twisters director Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) reveals in the latest issue of Empire.

Twisters Director Lee Isaac Chung on Steven Spielberg's Contribution 

"Spielberg is a fanatic," the Oscar nominee said of the legendary filmmaker, who returns as executive producer for the follow-up to 1996's Twister. "He's seen every YouTube tornado video. And you can't fake anything with him — he invented this [blockbuster-cinema] business. But what I loved was that, more than anything, he wanted to talk about character."

RELATED: Twister Star Bill Paxton Had an Idea for a Sequel — Years Before Twisters

Wanting to use VFX as more of a flourish than a crutch, Chung tried to do as much in-camera effects as possible with the new film. The tornadoes might not be real, but the destruction sure is! "This is an elemental story, so I wanted us to go as practical as possible," he explained. "We really tore things up. We had jet engines blowing. We had fans so massive you'd lose your hearing without earplugs. We were pelting our cast with everything — dirt, wind, ice."

What Is Twisters About?

Twin Twisters, in Twisters directed by Lee Isaac Chung.

Written by Mark L. Smith (The Midnight Sky, The Boys in the Boat), Twisters follows Kate Cooper (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a New York City storm analyst who left the field after a devastating encounter with a tornado in her college years. She's reluctantly lured back into the field by her friend, Javi (Anthony Ramos), who's looking to test a state-of-the-art tracking system.

As Kate and Javi hit the road, chasing cow-lifting vortexes throughout rural America, they cross paths with vainglorious social media influencer Tyler Owens (Glen Powell), who has given himself the title "Tornado Wrangler." A self-assured pretty boy, Tyler thinks he's invincible from Mother Nature's terrible wrath, which probably isn't a very safe stance.

While the film won't pull any punches in its depiction of the destructive nature of... uh... nature, Chung wants viewers to come away from the movie with a greater appreciation for the natural world and an understanding of why it is so important to protect.

"We do want to inspire the next generation of weather scientists," he continued. "It's an interesting time right now for disaster movies, in that we can talk about climate change and allow that ideal to be real — which we do in this movie. But I didn't want to tell a pessimistic, all-is-lost story. I wanted a story full of hope, where the characters fall in love with nature. That's why I call this an 'adventure movie' rather than a 'disaster movie.' Optimism drives it."

RELATED: Glen Powell Says Filming Twisters Involved a "Jet Engine Hitting Us with Ice"

Maura Tierney (Liar Liar), Brandon Perea (Nope), Daryl McCormack (Peaky Blinders), Sasha Lane (Hellboy), Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), and Nik Dodani (Atypical) round out the cast. Thomas Hayslip and Ashley Jay Sandberg are executive producers along with Spielberg. Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley serve as producers.

When Does Twisters Open in Theaters?

Twisters arrives on the big screen Friday, July 19. Want to see it two days earlier? Click here to pick up tickets for early access screenings on Wednesday, July 17.