by Hans ten Cate
Monday, 11 September 1995

Ever think to yourself, "Hey, how about that 'Fish Called Wanda'... what a great movie! Wouldn't a sequel be a neat idea?" Well it seems that a sequel is already well underway. Actually, its not really a sequel at all - in the words of its stars: its an "equal."

The new film will star the same cast as in the original "Wanda" (i.e. former Python-members John Cleese and Michael Palin as well as Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline) but the roles they will be playing will not be those of the double-dealing crooks you saw in "A Fish Called Wanda."

The new film, titled "Fierce Creatures," is about an international tycoon who acquires a zoo and then tries to remove it by selling off the animals, presumably in support of more industrial pursuits. Also in the film, the various zoo keepers, in an effort to keep their animals from seeming dull, splatter themselves with fake blood and bandage themselves up claiming their ferocious penguin (or other such placid animal) viciously attacked them. Their behavior stems from Cleese's character suggesting that the public only want to see ferocious animals! The film is scheduled for release in Spring 1996.

Palin plays one of the animal keepers at the zoo while Curtis and Cleese come to the zoo to do the tycoon's bidding. John plays an Englishman named "Rollo," an ex-Hong Kong policeman. Kevin Kline is reported to be playing two characters in the film. The film is being produced by John Cleese and directed by Robert Young. Reportedly, appearances will also be made by popular English comedians Ronnie Corbett and Hugh Laurie.

The film has been given many titles. One of the earliest working titles was "Death Fish II," a sort of cross between a "Fish Called Wanda" and the "Death Wish" movies (of which there are a number of sequels). This humorous title was John Cleese's doing; he knew Jamie Lee Curtis always wanted to do a spy movie (and now she has with "True Lies") and so "Death Fish II" had been a working title since 1988. The screenplay has also been referred to as "A Lemur Named Rollo." At a February book signing in New York City, John Cleese said that the film would probably be called "Fierce Things."

This name playing shouldn't come as a surprise, however. John Cleese has traditionally been tight-lipped about his film projects - a marvelous sales-technique he employed during the development of "A Fish Called Wanda." Two years before "A Fish Called Wanda" was completed, John Cleese indicated in a series of interviews that he was toying with a number of titles, including: "A Goldfish Called Wanda," "A Guppie Called Jack," "The Last Prawn," "Corruption," "Wanda," "Wanda the Parrot," and "Wanda the Policeman."

The cast of "Fierce Creatures" began filming on May 15 in England and at the Jersey Zoo. Filming finished last month (August). Now final production and editing will take place so that the film can be released sometime early next year.

John Cleese had help from William Goldman on the screenplay for "Fierce Creatures." Goldman is well known as the author of the book and screenplay for "The Princess Bride" as well as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Marathon Man." One thing John Cleese prides himself on is the attention to detail and carefully scripted screenplays. "A Fish Called Wanda" underwent at least thirteen major drafts (most films only go through about five major drafts). The "Fawlty Towers" television series went through similar rigorous scripting prior to filming (about six weeks to write each episode). John Cleese is proud of his television accomplishments and claims that "Fawlty Towers" is about as funny as he can get.