In addition to bringing Stephen Hopkins in for a 25th-anniversary screening of Judgment Night, the Cinepocalypse Film Festival hosted director Ernest Dickerson, who would receive a Lifetime Achievement Award following a screening of his critically acclaimed Juice. However, the night before he would attend a very special screening of Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight.
The first-ever HBO-based “Tales From the Crypt” feature film starred William Sadler as a man on the run who is hunted by a demon known as the Collector (Billy Zane). Sadler’s character, Brayker, passed the torch to Jeryline, played by Jada Pinkett Smith.
Dickerson was extremely candid and shared several really gross Hollywood anecdotes that have bothered him for all of these years. In the film’s Q+A, he revealed that before casting Pinkett Smith, producer Joel Silver wanted The Mask‘s Cameron Diaz in her first starring role.
“I was trying to figure out who can be my Jeryline,” explained Dickerson. “I always saw her as a small lady. I had gone to see Menace II Society and I saw Jada in that and I said, ‘That’s her!’ Now, Joel Silver, he wanted Cameron Diaz and I just couldn’t see Cameron in that role. I keep pushing Jada and finally, he agreed to meet her. She said, ‘What do I say to him?’ I said, ‘Just be yourself.'”
The story takes a dark, Hollywood turn, even though Dickerson would eventually get the actress he wanted. “Joel was a crazy guy,” he explained, adding that he told the producer that Jada was “an amazing actress” who has “got it”. Silver’s jarring response: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but does she got big tits?” Dickerson countered, “I don’t know, Joel, [maybe] you should just talk to her?”
As for Jada, Dickerson eventually got his dream casting, which he hoped would turn typecasting against the audience by having her character survive and end up saving both the world and universe.
In the end, Demon Knight would end up being a huge success, as would Diaz.