Everyone has a favorite movie that they’ve watched over and over again until the DVD was scratched beyond repair. And yet, there are a lot of hidden details in certain iconic movies that even the most enthusiastic film fan is unaware of.
Whether an actor was going through something difficult that changed their performance or the director put some mementos of their own life into the final product, movies are filled with stories, both on and off the camera. So, from heartbreaking behind-the-scenes facts to unforeseen changes in the script, here are some interesting tidbits that will change the way we see our favorite films.
Hidden Food on "The Avengers" Set
In “The Avengers,” moviegoers saw Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, munching on blueberries. But this wasn’t part of the script. It turns out that actor Robert Downey Jr., hid food everywhere on set so he would have some on hand when he got the munchies.
"The Blues Brothers" Set the Record For Car Crashes
John Landis, John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd spent $30 million for the iconic music film, which was virtually twice the project’s budget. The reason behind the expenditure was the result of the extra cars they bought for $400 each, which they ended up crashing for a scene. In fact, the original movie once held the record for most cars crashed in a film at 103 vehicles, before “Blues Brothers 2000” came out in which 104 cars were wrecked. They also had cameos from VIPs like Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin, which bumped up the film’s budget.
"Monty Python’s Life of Brian" Got Funding From One of The Beatles
The original studio for “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” pulled all their financing after discovering that the film contained biblical content. Fortunately, musician George Harrison loved the Monty Python films so much that he gave the project three million pounds to help producers finish the movie.
"All the President’s Men" Recreated a Real Office
Talk about attention to detail! Production designers spent what would be considered $2 million today to recreate every inch of the Washington Post perfectly right down to the garbage in the wastebaskets for the film “All the President’s Men.”
"The Shining" Cast Member Didn't Know the Film's Plot
“The Shining” director Stanley Kubrick never told child actor Danny Lloyd that he was starring in a horror flick. So, the young actor didn’t get to see his performance in the film from when he was 5 years old until he was 16. This was done to protect young Lloyd from being afraid of his costars and witnessing some truly gruesome scenes.
"Die Hard" Captured a Moment of Real Fear
There’s a reason the look of shock on Hans Gruber’s face is real in the film “Die Hard.” Director John McTiernan told actor Alan Rickman that he was going to give him a countdown before he was dropped forty feet to a padded area. But he surprised Rickman by letting him slip right away and the result was a more realistic death scene.
Dog in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" Wouldn't Stop Barking
The dog who played Fang in the film “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” didn’t realize he was acting and kept barking ferociously at the animatronic Aragog spider in order to keep actor Daniel Radcliffe safe. At least he was protecting his fellow cast members from harm!
Every Actor in "Saving Private Ryan" Received Training But One
All of the cast members in the film “Saving Private Ryan” underwent basic training to play soldiers. But Steven Spielberg didn’t make Matt Damon do it because he wanted the other actors to see him as the odd man out, which is exactly how the soldiers perceived Private Ryan.
Gene Kelly Was Sick During "Singin’ in the Rain"
Gene Kelly might have looked chipper as he danced and sang the song “Singin’ in the Rain” for the film of the same name, but no one could have imagined that he was doing this while fighting a fever of 103 degrees. And although Kelly made it look perfect in every take, the scene took three days to film.
A Duel "The Princess Bride" Meant a Lot to One Actor
Actor Mandy Patinkin’s dad died from cancer while “The Princess Bride” was in production. So, he took a short break to grieve and to attend the funeral. When he returned, Patinkin had a sword duel against the six-fingered man and uttered the words “I want my father back.” The actor later shared that during the scene, "I killed the cancer that killed my father and for a moment he was alive."
Scar Lost His Voice During "The Lion King"
While recording the musical number “Be Prepared,” actor Jeremy Irons, who voiced Scar in “The Lion King,” started to lose his voice. So, Disney had to hire actor Jim Cummings, who voices Winnie the Pooh, to help out. Cummings also voiced Ed, one of the hyenas, in "The Lion King," so the crew knew that he was already available for recording.
Buzz Was Nearly Larry in "Toy Story"
Buzz Lightyear is one of the most beloved characters in “Toy Story.” But writers originally named him Lunar Larry. Then, they thought of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and used his name as inspiration to rename the character.
Dustin Hoffman's Cameo in "The Holiday"
Dustin Hoffman made a cameo in “The Holiday” as a customer visitor a video store when he hears Jack Black singing “Mrs. Robinson” while holding “The Graduate” on DVD. But most moviegoers don’t know that this was a last-minute appearance. Hoffman was on set and producers asked him to appear. Fortunately, he was happy to oblige.
Joe Pesci's Mom in "Goodfellas" Was a Famous Mother
Actor Joe Pesci’s film mom in “Goodfellas” is actually film director Martin Scorsese's mom, Catherine. And to prove just how serious she took on the role, she actually cooked the pasta that the characters ate in the film.
"Batman" Used Countless Miniatures For Its Sets
In Tim Burton’s 1989 version of “Batman,” the crew used tons of miniatures and matte paintings to create the illusion of Gotham City so it would be virtually impossible for fans to actually spot what was real and what wasn’t when watching the film. And stunningly, the illusions still hold up during rewatches today.
"Poltergeist" Used Unique Filming Techniques
In “Poltergeist,” the Cuesta Verde home was sent to another dimension, but the crew didn’t use CGI to make the scene believable. Instead, they pulled down a six-foot-long miniature of the home using metal wires and a funnel.
"Escape From New York" Wasn't Filmed in New York
In “Escape From New York,” the crew wasn’t allowed to shoot in New York City, so the movie had to be done in St. Louis. However, the team did use a miniature replica of New York’s south side for the scene showing Snake Plissken hang-gliding through Manhattan.
The Stay-Puft Man in "Ghostbusters" Wasn't Really Huge
In “Ghostbusters,” some wide shots of the scene where the big Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man walks through Manhattan were done using a miniature set. The model also had busted fire hydrants that spilled sand that looked like water in the final shot, and remote-controlled cars to add realism to the scene.
"Inception" Didn't Use Much CGI
Fans of “Inception” might be surprised to learn that very little CGI was used in the film. So, the scene where the mountaintop hospital exploded was actually the work of a special effects team that built a 1/6 scale, 40-foot-high model that took only 5.5 seconds to blow up in the film.
"Goldeneye" Used Cat Litter and Flour for Snow
In the film “Goldeneye,” miniature effects supervisor Derek Meddings created a realistic replica of a Siberian landscape complete with trees, mountains, and snow. But he also added cat litter and flour to make the scene of the film’s satellite bunker look a bit more realistic.
Several Boats Were Used During the Filming of "Titanic"
In the “Titanic” film, director James Cameron and Dream Quest Images relied on a series of miniature models of the cruise ship. This included one that was at 1/20 scale and 45 feet in length. There were others too, like the 1/8-scale replica of the stern of the ship.
Not-so-Small Miniatures Were Used For "Alien"
In the 1979 film “Alien,” the spaceship, Nostromo, was a miniature designed by artist Ron Cobb and built by Brian Johnson and his visual effects team. But to call the ship miniature would be inaccurate given that it weighed more than 500 pounds and was 11x11 feet.
Stop-Motion Techniques Captured "King Kong"
In the 1933 version of “King Kong,” special effects designer Willis O’Brien had several puppet versions of King Kong and three miniature New York City skyscrapers made. And when it came time to film the scenes where Kong was in Manhattan, he had to use stop-motion to shoot the scenes.
Only One Miniature Was Used For "Harry Potter"
There was only one miniature version of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry used during the “Harry Potter” films. The school was modeled after the real-life Alnwick Castle and Durham Cathedral and had tiny hinged doors and owls in the owlery.
"The Usual Suspects" Had Gas
In the line-up scene for “The Usual Suspects,” the actors couldn’t keep a straight face because actor Benicio Del Toro, who played Fenster, farted in all 12 takes. But while the scene worked, director Bryan Singer never intended it to be a funny part of the movie.
Acting Lead to Injuries in "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope"
Luke Skywalker was seen choking in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” And the actor, Mark Hamill, wanted it to be so realistic that he held his breath until he bopped a blood vessel in one of his eyes. As a result, Hamill was shot from one side of his face or had to smile a lot to hide his left bloodshot eye during the rest of filming.
"Alien" Truly Freaked Out Its Actors
In Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller “Alien,” the cast had no idea that animal guts were going to be used when the alien burst out of the character, Kane, played by John Hurt. So, the shocked and disgusted expression on the actors’ faces were legit.
"Thelma & Louise" Featured an Unplanned Kiss
Towards the end of “Thelma & Louise,” Louise kisses Thelma on the lips, but this wasn’t part of the script, so director Ridley Scott had no idea actress Susan Sarandon was going to press lips with actress Gina Davis. But because shooting time had practically run out, he had no other choice but to leave the scene in the film.
A Frothy Scene in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
In “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” Frodo, played by Elijah Wood, was seen foaming at the mouth after being stabbed by a spider-like creature named Shelob. But to get Wood’s mouth to foam, the actor placed two dissolvable indigestion tablets under his tongue.
A Korean Delicacy in"Oldboy"
In the film “Oldboy,” actor Choi Min-sik actually ate four live mollusks, but audiences only saw his character Oh Dae-su eat one. But Min-sik didn’t mind as octopi are a South Korean delicacy. However, they are usually chopped up first.
DiCaprio Injured Himself in "Django Unchained"
In “Django Unchained,” actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Calvin Candie, loses his cool on another character and cuts his hand on a glass. Well, as it turns out, DiCaprio really did cut himself and needed to get patched up after the scene was over.
Sheen Didn't Sleep For Two Days For "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off"
In “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Dirty Dancing” actress Jennifer Grey’s character, Jeanie Bueller, meets Charlie Sheen’s scruffy character at a police station, of all places. To make the look believable, Sheen stayed awake for 48 hours.
An Injury Changed a Scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” actor Harrison Ford contracted Dysentery in Tunisia, so he couldn’t use Indiana Jones’ famous whip to take care of a swordsman in one of the scenes. Instead, the actor suggested his character use a gun, and Steven Spielberg approved of the idea.
"Psycho" Was the First Major Film to Show a Toilet
In the film, “Psycho,” screenwriter Joseph Stefano decided to use a toilet onscreen, which was a first for any film. But the film’s director, Alfred Hitchcock, would only greenlight it if there was a legitimate use for the toilet. So the character Marion Crane was seen throwing evidence into the toilet.
Drew Barrymore Was Emotional During the Filming of "Scream"
To ensure that Drew Barrymore’s portrayal of the emotionally wrecked Casey Becker was believable in “Scream,” director Wes Craven shared some animal abuse stories with her. The actress was visibly upset by the time the cameras were rolling because she loves animals in real life.
The Actors Weren't Acting in "Fight Club"
If the golf-playing drunken scene where Narrator, played by Edward Norton, and Tyler, played by Brad Pitt, seems legit, it’s because it was. It turns out that the actors really were inebriated while doing the scene.
James Cameron Made "Titanic's" Famous Drawing
In “Titanic,” audiences saw Jack played by Leonardo DiCaprio, draw Kate Winslet’s character, Rose, in the nude. But it was actually James Cameron who drew the sketch and it’s his hand audiences see doing the drawing in the film.
"Trainspotting" Featured a Lot of Chocolate
In “Trainspotting,” there was a scene where actor Ewan McGregor’s character, Renton, sticks his hand into a toilet full of excrement. Fortunately for McGregor, the excrement was actually chocolate, which smelled a lot nicer than most public toilets do.
Guitar Strings Were Used For "Jurassic Park's" Most Famous Scene
Remember the “Jurassic Park” scene where the water in the cups on the truck dashboard start to make waves? Audiences immediately knew that this was a sign of a T-Rex approaching. But to make this effect happen, the crew strummed a guitar string attached under the truck’s console.
The Shock in "The Godfather" Was Genuine
When actor John Marley’s character John Woltz discovered that a severed horse head was in his bed, the reaction was golden. But it turns out that Marley wasn’t acting. He was genuinely stunned because he wasn’t told that the crew would use an actual freshly severed horse head for the scene.
"Pulp Fiction" Mentioned "Kill Bill"
In the “Pulp Fiction” scene where Uma Thurman’s character, Mia Wallace, is at Jack Rabbit Slims, she seemingly discusses the plot to a film Thurman starred in called “Kill Bill.” In the scene, Wallace discusses the main characters in her faux TV pilot, “Fox Force Five” which sound like the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad in “Kill Bill.”
Joker in "The Dark Knight" Frightened Other Actors
In “The Dark Knight,” Heath Ledger’s make-up and performance as the Joker was so terrifying that co-star Michael Caine, who played Alfred Pennyworth, went totally blank when it came time to say his lines.
"Predator" Actor Appears in the Film
Towards the end of the film “Predator,” actor Kevin Peter Hall played Dutch, the pilot that landed that helicopter that picks Arnold Schwarzenegger up. But Hall is also the actor who played the terrifying alien known as Predator.
No Animals Were Harmed in "The Shawshank Redemption"
The American Humane Association protects all animal life, even maggots. So, during a scene in “The Shawshank Redemption” where the character Brooks feeds a maggot to a crow, the Association made sure that a maggot that died of natural causes was used.
An "Alien: Resurrection" Scene Was Shot in One Take
In “Alien: Resurrection,” Sigourney Weaver’s character, Ripley, made a backwards basketball shot before leaving the room. What’s even more impressive was that Weaver did this in one take. But actor Ron Perlman, who was in the shot, nearly ruined the take because he was utterly shocked.
The Waxing Scene in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" Wasn't a Stunt
In “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” Steve Carell’s character underwent a serious chest waxing. But what fans don’t know is that the actor actually underwent the process, so his reaction to having his hair ripped off was totally genuine.
Schwarzenegger Was Friends With His "Total Recall" Enemy
Although Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Ironside’s characters were enemies in “Total Recall,” they actually got along well in real life. It turns out that Ironside’s sister had cancer and Schwarzenegger gave him tips on what diet and exercises his sister could do to cope with the horrible illness.
It Took a Week to Film One Second of "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” was a real nightmare for the crew who had to pose the figures in 24 different poses just to get 1 second of film. So, technically, a week’s worth of work translated to just a minute of footage.
A Toe Was Broken on the Set of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
In “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” Aragorn kicks an orc helmet and cries out in anger. But what moviegoers didn’t realize was that actor Viggo Mortensen had just broken his toe, so the scream was actually legit.
Actors Caught a Criminal on the Set of "Leon: The Professional"
“Leon: The Professional” was Natalie Portman’s first big screen appearance, but most people don’t know that a real-life thief ran onto the set after robbing a store around the corner. What he failed to realize was that the cops that had surrounded him were just actors. So, he surrendered himself to them by mistake.