As a viewer, films and television shows that feature food can be quite tempting. Oftentimes, onscreen portrayals are focused in making the dishes look ultra-delectable, even if the storyline isn’t directly affected by the food. From sitcoms like Seinfeld where the characters meet at the local diner, to Joey on Friends enthusiastically eating a slice of pizza; it’s surprising how much food can be such a huge part of all of our favorite shows and films.
Yet, filming an eating scene can be quite tricky for actors. Since scenes can take upwards of hours to film, there are certain tricks that are required to make sure the food continues to look the same with each new take. Anyone that has seen a wilted salad or a browned banana can understand the difficulty in maintaining a fresh and appetizing meal after hours of having it just sitting around.
Unlocking some of the secrets behind some of Hollywood’s most recognizable eating scenes is a great way to know some insider tricks and go behind-the-scenes in the entertainment industry. Rather than drooling over some of the delicious-looking meals portrayed onscreen, you might be surprised at what was really going on during some of those fanciful eating scenes. From fake food to manipulated food alternatives, Hollywood seemingly has a never-ending bag of tricks to come up with all those eating scenes audiences see on the small and big screen. Check out our list of 15 food secrets revealed while filming during some of Hollywood’s hottest films and TV shows, and see how many times you have been tempted or fooled as a viewer.
15. Fake Vegan Twinkies In Zombieland
There are a number of celebrities that have altered their diet to become healthier and more animal-conscious, including Hollywood A-lister, Woody Harrelson. As a practicing vegan, Harrelson doesn’t eat animal products, which includes eggs and dairy. When he was cast in the role of Tallahassee in the box office hit, Zombieland, it was a bit of a problem that his character was obsessed with the Twinkies Hostess product. Much of the film was spent in pursuit of these little packaged treats, since Twinkies actually have an expiration date. To adhere to Harrelson’s strict vegan diet, production created special Twinkie-like cakes that were vegan. They were actually made out of cornmeal and were completely vegan-friendly. In 2011, The Huffington Post quoted Harrelson speaking out about this Twinkie swap by saying, “I’m not a Twinkie lover. I don’t do sugar or dairy either. When we finally shot my Twinkie-eating scene in the movie, they had to give me a specially made mock Twinkie made of corn meal. It could spur a healthy Twinkie revolution.”
14. Jon Gries Spit Out His Meat
Napoleon Dynamite was a film that started off slowly, but quickly gained a cult following. Making over $40 million worldwide, the catchphrases and characters became iconic in themselves. What was once a little film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, ultimately became a film with instantly recognizable characters. One of which was Uncle Rico, played by Jon Gries. His steak-loving character could be seen eating in the film, but the truth behind his meal scenes was that he wasn’t actually swallowing the food. Instead, Gries would spit out each bite after a few chews. This can actually be seen in the film, since he brings a napkin to his face after each bite. While this might ruin the authenticity of the film for some viewers, it probably saved Gries a few stomach aches while filming. Since movie scenes can often take hours and hours to film, it remains a smart choice by the actor not to actually eat bites of steak after steak.
13. Daenerys Was Actually Eating A Giant Gummy
In the first season of HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) became pregnant with Khal Drogo’s child and had to partake in a heart-eating ceremony. The Dothraki pregnancy ceremony involved eating the heart of a stallion, in all its bloody glory. Clarke and the producers of the show wanted to make the scene as authentic as possible, since it would be obvious if she only mimicked taking bites of the heart. In a behind-the-scenes interview for HBO, D. B. Weiss spoke about the prop used to make the heart, saying it was, “basically a giant, three-pound gummy bear, covered in fake sugar-blood.” When interviewed about the experience of filming this scene, Clarke admitted, “It was disgusting! They promised me that it would taste similar to a gummy bear, and it definitely didn’t. It was kind of like… the best way to describe it is sort of a congealed jam kind of thing. On the outtakes, there will be me heaving into a bucket.”
12. Direwolf Bread Had To Be Perfect
Before Arya Stark was left to her own devices in Game of Thrones, she had a small little band of misfits coming from Harrenhal. Hot Pie, played by Ben Hawkey, became a fan favorite because of his good-natured spirit, and his love of food. His first attempt at baking a loaf of bread in the shape of a Direwolf didn’t exactly turn out picture perfect, even though it tasted good. Yet the second loaf he made for her was definitely an impressive feat. When he gave the loaf to Brienne of Tarth to give to Arya, viewers got to see just how much his baking skills had improved since we last saw him. The actual story behind this loaf of bread is that it wasn’t fake, but was an actual loaf of bread that was shaped in the Direwolf form. In an attempt to make the perfect loaf to show his new and improved cooking expertise, production wound up making over 70 loaves of Direwolf-shaped bread and chose the best one to be used on the show.
11. Peter Dinklage Is Eating Tofu “Meat”
Game of Thrones may be set in the fantasy world of George R. R. Martin’s, A Song of Ice and Fire, but it also has deep roots set in the medieval period. Meat was a huge part of the food diet during that time, since there weren’t exactly vending machines doling out chips and prepackaged granola bars. Food was often a sign of prestige for the elite, and was a mark of wealth for the higher lords. While Peter Dinklage’s character, Tyrion Lannister, is known more for his love of wine, he is also a main figure in many of the feasting scenes. From the ultra lavish wedding feast at Joffrey’s Purple Wedding to regular meals at King’s Landing, Tyrion never seems to be lacking in food. Yet, the surprising thing is that the meat on the show that is eaten by Peter Dinklage isn’t exactly meat. Instead, the showrunners create fake or tofu meat for all of his “meat” eating scenes. Dinklage has always been a strong advocate for animal rights, and even performed a video spot for PETA entitled, “Face Your Food.”
10. Harry Potter Feast Made Of Wax
The fantasy world of Harry Potter is filled with all things magical, including the food in The Great Hall. Since the very start of the film series, viewers were invited to see the world through the eyes of the young Harry Potter. Without having a proper bedroom, and instead living in a cramped spot beneath the stairs, his life wasn’t exactly filled luxurious meals and lavish treats. So, when he was invited to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it wasn’t just the immense castle that was most appealing about his new situation. The feasts provided at The Great Hall were an added delight to young Harry, and to viewers as well. It seemed like such a marvel to have all that glorious food appear out of thin air. Yet, the truth of the feasts is that it wasn’t real food at all. Instead, much of it was made out of wax and resin, and only a small portion was actually edible.
9. The Big Bang Theory Makes Great Food
Oftentimes, shows that are taped in front of a live audience have to work with little tricks for scenes that involve its characters’ eating meals. The timing that is involved in reciting lines and interacting with the other characters doesn’t exactly allow for the actor’s to comfortably eat the food. From talking with a full mouth to retakes that require the plate to look exactly the same with each reshot, most scenes involving food show characters just pushing around their utensils to a full plate. In a show like The Big Bang Theory that has a storyline that involves structured take-out meals with each episode, there always seems to be an eating scene that shows off delectable looking dishes. Yet, the food isn’t just good-looking, it actually tastes really good as well. In a blooper outtake involving Kaley Cuoco eating a spaghetti dinner, she actually doesn’t seem to mind the constant retakes since the food “is so good.” She has also said that she skips dinner on the days where the Chinese food scenes are filmed, since their prop master, Scott London, prepares the amazing Chinese food featured in these scenes.
8. Hugh Jackman Went On The Rock Diet
Actors are often asked to completely transform their bodies in order to embody a role, which usually consists of either gaining or losing a tremendous amount of weight. From Tom Hanks’ transformation in Philadelphia and Cast Away to Christian Bale’s transformation in The Fighter, it seems like Hollywood will only take an actor seriously if they can give themselves over entirely to the process. While it’s difficult enough to look absolutely emaciated for a character portrayal, it can be even more difficult to bulk up. When Hugh Jackman was training for the 2013 film, The Wolverine, he reached out to none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson let him know the best way to put on 25 pounds of lean muscle, without adding fat. In preparation for The Wolverine meal and during filming, Jackman attributed his lean and super muscular look to this 6,000 calorie a day diet before moving on to The 8-Hour intermittent fasting diet.
7. Jennifer Lawrence Eating Raw Fish
The Hunger Games storyline isn’t just about kids between the ages of 12 and 18-years-old fighting to the death for the amusement of The Capitol. A huge part of the storyline revolves around food, and the lack thereof. During the tributes’ time away from their districts, a great amount of energy is put into the food portion of the storyline. All of the food is described in the books as being the epitome of deliciousness, and the film adaptation worked hard to make the audiences absolutely drool over the finely crafted dishes. Yet the second installment in the film series, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, had a scene that was cringe-worthy for the Oscar-winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence. While in the arena, Lawrence’s character was forced to eat a raw fish, and production actually gave her a real fish to eat. Lawrence gave a number of interviews talking about this experience, saying, “I had to eat a raw fish. And not like a sushi raw fish. I held a fish and had to eat it. And for the record, it tastes exactly how it smells.”
6. Pie Inspiration In Film Led To The Merge Of Food And Theatre
The 2007 film, Waitress, featured a storyline that was as much about the pies she baked as it was about the personal relationships in her life. By creating her own pie recipes and giving off the recipes onscreen, it seemed inevitable that the film would spark some would-be bakers. Numerous blogs were created to make some of the pies shown in the film, but it was the adaptation of the film onto the theatre stage that truly showed innovation. Rather than using props, the Weisslers chose to use edible pies. Stacy Donnelly, owner of Cute as Cake bakery, became a pie consultant for the show and started baking 32 pies a week for the Waitress onstage performances. The cast slices into five pies each night to serve to customers, and an additional pie is baked in the lobby of the theater so that the audience can actually smell the baking pie as they arrive to see the show.
5. Chef Employed A Food Truck
The 2014 film, Chef, featured a hodgepodge of film actors that bring their own brand of star appeal. John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, and Jon Favreau star in this food truck feel-good story, but the main star of the film is undoubtedly the food. Favreau’s character shows the recipe of the Cubano (Cuban sandwich) that helps to put his food truck on the map, but the recipe actually comes from real-life food truck entrepreneur, Roy Choi, the Korean taco truck innovator from Los Angeles. Production hired food stylist Melissa McSorley to translate Choi’s recipe onscreen, and over the course of filming the movie, McSorley estimated that she and her team made around 800 Cuban sandwiches. Since eating on set can be tricky for actors, Favreau wanted the food to look and taste appealing to help with the authenticity of the storyline for its viewers. If the actors look like they are really enjoying their Cuban sandwiches, it’s probably because they truly are.
4. The Big Kahuna Burger From Pulp Fiction
There are usually a number of different actor choices when films begin the casting process, making it rare for characters to be tailored towards one particular actor. When Quentin Tarantino was casting actors to play the role of Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, he was actually first considering Paul Calderon after a stellar audition. Yet, Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t about to let the role slip from his fingers. Instead, he reportedly flew out for a last minute audition with fast food burger and drink in-hand. Needless to say he got the part, and the film just wouldn’t have been the same without him. He nailed the Big Kahuna Burger scene, which is a fictional chain of Hawaiian-themed fast food created by Tarantino. What’s interesting is that this fast food chain came up again in another of Tarantino’s films, Reservoir Dogs. The logo of Big Kahuna Burger can be seen on the soda cup being held by Mr. Blonde after their diamond heist. George Clooney’s character in From Dusk Til Dawn is also holding a Big Kahuna bag, and the logo again appears in Tarantino’s other films, Four Rooms and Death Proof.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio
While filming the Martin Scorsese film, The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill performed in a scene at a sushi restaurant where it was discovered that DiCaprio’s character was wearing a wire. Although the scene originally called for Hill’s character to eat the last piece of yellowtail, Hill decided to let DiCaprio have the piece in an effort to get back at him for all the high jinks on set. Knowing that DiCaprio is a method actor that will go wherever the dialogue takes him, DiCaprio wound up eating sushi over and over again in the 100 takes it took to complete the scene. Both Scorsese and Hill spoke out about the filming of this scene while promoting the movie, and talked about how sick DiCaprio became after eating so much of this raw fish. DiCaprio allegedly became violently sick afterward, and was vomiting profusely towards the end of filming the scene.
2. Daryl Hannah Ate Tofu Lobster
Directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, Splash has become an iconic film since it was first released in 1984. It was Tom Hanks’ first acting role on the big screen, and helped to solidify him as one of Hollywood’s favorites. Daryl Hannah was actually the bigger star in the film, and production made sure to cater towards her strict vegetarian beliefs. The scene that involved Hannah devouring lobster at the restaurant was actually just the shells of the lobster stuffed with a tofu substitute. While she didn’t actually eat lobster in the takes, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t lobsters killed for this particular scene. The lobsters were cooked in order to create the redness in their shell, and the meat was dug out to be replaced by the tofu substitute. Reportedly, Hannah cried after each take due to the senseless deaths of the lobster while filming the scene.
1. Zombies Are Eating What In The Walking Dead?
Zombies used to be the hottest theme on the big screen, with films like Resident Evil and I Am Legend raking in money at the box office. Building on this fan favorite theme, The Walking Dead took to television to produce one of the most watched shows on TV. Each new season seems to be breaking records in viewership, with ultra-high hopes for the upcoming season. Known for its spontaneous storyline and gruesome special effects, the upcoming season will undoubtedly feature more hungry zombies chomping down on the living. The show’s production goes to great lengths in trying to create the authentic look of human flesh and organs in the show. The bloodied innards are actually ham, with a tweaked barbecue sauce that doesn’t have the traditional vinegar that was taking off the actor’s zombie makeup. Some of the scenes where zombies had to rip off a piece of flesh was actually raw chicken that the actors had to hold in their mouths, and the intestines are made of a vegetable stuffing.