Watching a great film is an undeniably magical experience for the viewer. However, many of the most iconic films of all time were nothing less than torturous to be a part of for the those involved in their making. And while you may think you know everything there is to know about your favorite films, there’s plenty of info you won’t even find in the director’s cut that might just surprise even the biggest movie buffs.
From on-set conditions that nearly killed major stars to the shocking way actors got in character, we’ve rounded up the most surprising behind-the-scenes secrets from your favorite movies. And when you’re looking to improve your movie knowledge, make sure to you’ve seen these 20 Iconic Films You Should Have Watched by Now.
Jamie Foxx Glued His Eyes Shut for His Role in Ray
To really commit to his character in the Ray Charles biopic, Jamie Foxx actually had his eyes glued shut for 14 hours at a time while filming. His dedication undeniably paid off, however, when he went home with the Oscar for Best Actor.
Debbie Reynolds Danced Until Her Feet Bled in Singin’ In the Rain
Gene Kelly was reportedly so unkind to Debbie Reynolds because of her lack of dancing experience when the two filmed Singin’ in the Rain that the actress wept between takes. Worse yet, she was forced to dance for such long periods of time that her feet bled.
“Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life,” said the actress of her experience. Ready to show off your inner movie buff? Get familiar with these 37 Movies Everyone Over 40 Should Be Able to Quote.
Tony Todd Actually Put Bees in His Mouth for Candyman
To shoot the infamous bee scene in Candyman, actor Tony Todd actually filled his mouth with live bees. “I got 23 stings over the course of three movies,” Todd told TMZ. “But I had a great lawyer.” And for more spooky movies, check out these 20 Kids’ Films That Will Definitely Traumatize Your Children.
Jack Nicholson Pulled a Real Gun on Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed
If you think Leonardo DiCaprio’s look of surprise when Jack Nicholson draws a gun on him in The Departed is convincing, it’s because the younger actor was legitimately afraid. “[Jack] pulled a gun on him. He didn’t tell me he had a gun… Leo’s reaction is real-time,” said director Martin Scorsese of the famous scene.
The Actors’ Reactions to the Chestburster in Alien Are Genuine
The actors in Alien were simply told “this thing emerges,” according to Sigourney Weaver, but were given no other information about how graphic the scene would become.
“It was real, man,” actor Yaphet Kotto, who played Parker, told The Guardian. “We didn’t see that coming. We were freaked. The actors were all frightened.”
The Sound of Reagan’s Head Turning in The Exorcist is Actually Leather
The eerie sound of Reagan’s head spinning around in The Exorcist came from a rather surprising source. According to director William Friedkin’s autobiography, the noise is actually the sound created by twisting a leather wallet in front of a microphone.
Jim Caviezel Was Struck By Lightning During The Passion of the Christ
Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the movie, was struck by lightning during filming, as was the film’s assistant director, Jan Michelini. Perhaps even more surprisingly, this was Michelini’s second time getting struck by lightning—and living to tell the tale. And for more Hollywood trivia, check out these 30 Celebrities Who Are Amazing Artists on the Side.
Michael Caine Was So Frightened By Heath Ledger’s Joker He Forgot His Lines
Michael Caine, who played Alfred alongside Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, admitted that he was so frightened by his costar’s appearance that he drew a blank on his lines. “When the bloody door opened on that lift, he came tearing out. I forgot every line. Terrifying,” said Caine.
Live Birds Were Thrown at Tippi Hedren During the Making of The Birds
Actress Tippi Hedren’s response to the swarm of birds in the bedroom scene in The Birds was all too real. In fact, the actress says that director Alfred Hitchcock not only tied live birds to her costume, but had crew members toss real birds at her. “It was brutal and ugly and relentless,” she wrote in her memoir.
Chris Evans Wears a Plastic Jaw in The Avengers
In a post-credits scene in The Avengers, Chris Evans is the only character seen not eating. Apparently, this was because the actor was wearing a prosthetic jaw for the scene as a means of covering the beard he had been growing for Snowpiercer. And for more hilarity, check out The 30 Funniest Movie Lines of All Time.
The Cast of Saving Private Ryan Actually Went Through Boot Camp
To get the cast in character, Steven Spielberg had Tom Hanks, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Ed Burns, Barry Pepper, Tom Sizemore, and Adam Goldberg participate in a 10-day boot camp. Calling the experience “miserable,” Hanks told the New York Times, “things were demanded of us as human beings that are rarely demanded of actors. Our hands were raw. They were like hamburger by the time we were finished.”
Keanu Reeves Helped Cast Point Break
Keanu Reeves was adamant about Lori Petty being the right actress for the female lead in Point Break before she even auditioned. “I was in LA and Kathryn [Bigelow] was casting for the female lead and I remember I saw this woman come in driving this old beat up Cadillac and I was to meet actresses that day, and I saw this woman and I said ‘that’s the actress,’ and it turned out to be Lori Petty,” the actor told Reddit.
It Took Over 1,000 Takes to Get Groot’s Line Right in Guardians of the Galaxy
Vin Diesel admitted in an interview that he said the line more than 1,000 times to nail the character’s three-word catchphrase. “When I came into the recording booth, there was a 50-page document and on the left-hand side, it said, ‘I am Groot,’ and on the right-hand side, it would have a paragraph or a sentence explaining what he was really meaning,” he said.
Leonardo DiCaprio Really Cut His Hand While Filming Django Unchained
During the scene in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s character smashes a glass on the table in the Quentin Tarantino-directed movie, the actor actually ended up cutting himself badly.
“My hand started really pouring blood all over the table,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Maybe they thought it was done with special effects. I wanted to keep going.”
Ryan Gosling Really Plays the Piano in La La Land
Ryan Gosling actually plays the piano in his scenes in La La Land. In fact, he picked up the instrument so quickly that co-star John Legend admitted to being jealous of his talent.
The Girl Who Voiced Boo in Monsters, Inc. Was an Actual Toddler
Mary Gibbs, who’s now in her early 20s, was just a toddler when she provided the voice of Boo in Monsters, Inc. Her father was a storyboard artist on the movie and to capture her lines, the crew just followed her around with a microphone and edited her babbling into something usable.
“They would follow me around the recording studio, use puppets to talk to me, and have my mom tickle me or take money/candy away from me to make me laugh and cry,” she revealed.
900 Tons of Styrofoam and Salt Were Used in The Shining
The snow that covers the hedge maze at the end of The Shining was actually a combination of Styrofoam and salt. In fact, to effectively blanket the hedge maze, over 900 tons of the stuff had to be dumped on set.
Waterworld Spent Close to Double Its Intended Budget
Critically panned Kevin Costner action movie Waterworld couldn’t manage to stick to a budget of $100 million, thanks to difficult sets and major demands allegedly made by both cast and crew. In fact, the set itself—built in the middle of the ocean instead of on a sound stage— was so difficult that everyone involved had to jet-ski to it. In the end, the movie cost a staggering $175 million to make.
The Tin Man’s Makeup Nearly Killed Him in The Wizard of Oz
Buddy Ebsen, who played the Tin Man in the classic film, was nearly killed by the aluminum-based makeup he wore for his role. According to his autobiography, he suffered debilitating symptoms, including his finger and toes curling and stiffening, his knees bending the wrong way, and an inability to breathe.
Joe Pesci Actually Bit Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone
The scene in which Joe Pesci bites Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone left Culkin with a scar he still bears to this day. “In the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time.’ And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin,” Culkin told Rolling Stone.
Three Mechanical Sharks Were Used to Film Jaws
The movie used three different sharks—one pulled by a boat, one attached to a metal arm, and one fully mechanical shark used in head-on shots—to create the iconic beast. All of the sharks were affectionately called Bruce, after director Steven Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer.
The Rolling Stones’ Manager Let The Big Lebowski Use a Song for Free
Producer T Bone Burnett told Rolling Stone showed the film to the Rolling Stones’ former manager, Allen Klein, who owns the rights to the Townes Van Zandt cover of “Dead Flowers” used in the movie, to convince him to let the production use the song. Apparently, Klein was so thrilled by the movie’s repeated cracks about The Eagles that he waived the $150,000 licensing fee.
Rob Reiner Made His Child Actors Cry By Telling Them They Were Terrible
To coax an emotional reaction out of child actors Will Wheaton and Jerry O’Connell on the set of Stand By Me, director Rob Reiner went old-school. He simply screamed at them and told them they were doing a terrible job until they broke down.
Martin Scorsese Didn’t Direct All of Goodfellas
The ads for Morrie’s Wigs in Goodfellas weren’t directed by Martin Scorsese. In fact, the director tapped Stephen R. Pacca, the owner of a replacement window company, who had created his own line of kitschy ads on a shoestring budget, and had him direct the commercials himself.
Burt Reynolds Originally Had an Irish Accent in Boogie Nights
Burt Reynolds, who played producer Jack Horner in the Paul Thomas Anderson Film, initially tried to do the role using an Irish accent. Apparently, co-star Mark Wahlberg laughed at Reynolds’ take on the character, angering the veteran actor in the process. “I thought he was messing around,” Wahlberg told Yahoo Movies.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Didn’t Want to Be The Terminator
Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t originally want the role of The Terminator in the iconic movie franchise, and neither did director James Cameron. In fact, O.J. Simpson was originally the top pick for the role.
“I did not want to be the Terminator. I didn’t think I had established myself yet enough as a hero to be a villain,” Schwarzenegger revealed. “But I told [director James Cameron] some of my ideas about how the Terminator should train (not looking while loading weapons, not blinking, no emotions. I said the guy had to train blindfolded.) The Terminator, by the way, at that time, was O.J. Simpson. Jim told me I had to do it. He was right.”
Filming Apocalypse Now Nearly Killed Martin Sheen
Veteran actor Martin Sheen was put through so much on the set of Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now that it nearly killed him. In fact, Sheen, who was only in his 30s at the time of filming, had a heart attack on set a year into filming.
Robert Downey Jr. Left Jars of Urine Around the Zodiac Set
Frustrated by the long hours he and his fellow stars were forced to put in on the set of David Fincher’s Zodiac, Robert Downey Jr. came up with a bizarre form of retribution. The actor reportedly left jars of urine around the set in protest.
Christian Bale Slept Two Hours a Night to Prepare for The Machinist
Christian Bale dropped 60 pounds and slept just two hours a night to prepare for his role in 2004’s The Machinist. However, Bale had some good things to say about the experience. “It’s like you’ve abandoned your body,” he told The Guardian. “That’s the most Zen-like state I’ve ever been in.”
Edward Norton Actually Punches Jared Leto in Fight Club
While most of the fighting in Fight Club was well-rehearsed choreography, Edward Norton actually managed to punch Jared Leto in the face during one of the movie’s fight scenes. “Ed Norton swung a little too wide and knocked me in the chin,” admitted Leto. And if you think that’s bizarre, wait until you see the 20 Craziest Celebrity Rumors!
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