Renny Harlin, the famous Finnish film director, producer and screenwriter, was at the peak of his career in the middle of the 1990s. His marriage with actress Geena Davis since 1993 and blockbuster films Die Hard (1990) and Cliffhanger (1993) helped to place the Riihimäki-born filmmaker in the limelight.
In December 1996, Harlin arrived in Helsinki from Los Angeles, accompanied by Samuel L. Jackson, the star of Harlin’s newest action film The Long Kiss Goodnight. In it, Davis takes on the role of a suburban homemaker who, after receiving a bump on her head during a car crash, begins to remember flashes of her previous life as a trained assassin. She then hires a private investigator, played by Jackson, to look into her past. In the process, she finds out that he also works as a contract killer. More information starts to resurface, leading to a full-scale war with the US intelligence establishment.
Jackson’s career was also on the rise around the time he visited Finland, thanks to hit movies such as Pulp Fiction (1994) and Die Hard (1995). Upon his arrival, the actor was photographed at Helsinki Airport puffing on a cigarette and wearing a Planet Hollywood leather jacket and a cap.
The celebrity-themed restaurant, located in Helsinki city centre, was known for the stars that invested and promoted it such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator actor, in fact, visited the Helsinki restaurant in 1996.
The movie The Long Kiss Goodnight eventually turned out to be a flop, but Harlin has considered it to be his best work. Jackson, meanwhile, was again seen in a movie directed by a Finn, this time by Jalmari Helander in 2014’s Big Game.
Jackson warmly looked back on his Finland visit in an interview by Iltalehti in 2013.
“I had a fun hanging out with Renny and (Finnish television and film producer) Markus Selin. I like Finns. Finnish food, though? That I am not so sure about.”
Sources: The Internet Movie Database, Wikipedia, STT, Iltalehti, City.