There is a lot of work that goes into making a film. Even though they are not always as successful as the studios had hoped, there is no doubt that every film that comes out has cool tidbits of information from behind the scenes that can really add to the overall enjoyment of the final product.
The films that we are about to talk about below may very well be among some of your personal favorites. There are some great comedies, films you grew up with like Jurassic Park, iconic blockbusters like Star Wars and The Dark Knight, and many more that help make up this list. We’re not only talking about how successful and popular these films are, but also presenting some great pieces of trivia that we guarantee will blow you away.
These range from “almost” casting choices that would leave you scratching your head, to some moments that I guarantee you probably didn’t know were improvised, including perhaps your favorite Marvel film! You may have loved the look of The Joker in The Dark Knight, but do you know how much of an influence Heath had on the character? Well, you’re about to! You may love one of the directors I’m about to talk about, but you may not after you learn that he essentially tortured one of his lead actresses for months in order to get a better performance!
Whether your favorite movie appears on this list or not, hopefully these 20 movie trivia facts are just as intriguing to you as they are to us. Have a huge movie fan that you know? Be sure to share this on Facebook to show off just how in-depth your knowledge is!
20. Fight Club
Why It’s A Great Film: Fight Club stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt and is one of the most uniquely written stories out there, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It’ll captivate your attention and leave you wanting more, with some solid levels of testosterone. Just maybe realize that it’s still not a great idea to go and start a Fight Club.
The Trivia: There is a scene towards the start of the film in which Brad Pitt is calling out to Edward Norton to finally let loose and hit him. Pitt ends up convincing him, and Norton delivers a solid blow. What Pitt did not know is that right before the scene, director David Fincher came up to Norton and told him to really punch Pitt in the face. The reaction caught Pitt off-guard, who famously shouted out “YOU HIT ME IN THE EAR.”
19. The Shining
Why It’s A Great Film: If you’re looking for something to keep you up at night, look no further than The Shining. It may be from 1980, but Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest directors of all time and I bet you won’t be able to get Jack Nicholson’s performance out of your head anytime soon.
The Trivia: This one is actually really sad, but apparently Stanley Kubrick is not a very nice guy, at least as far as lead actress Shelley Duvall found. During filming Kubrick consistently berated Duvall, often talking about how she was wasting everyone’s time. Notorious for his pursuit of perfection, Duvall states that the famous “going up the stairs with a bat” scene was filmed roughly 127 times. If that wasn’t enough, the last hour of the film (that feature a freaked out Shelley) reportedly took close to 4 months to film. Kubrick stated that he instructed the cast and crew to be equally rude to Shelley in order to make Duvall looked stressed out, tired and haggard. Talk about going to some extremes to get the best performance out of your actress.
18. Star Wars
Why It’s A Great Film: I don’t think I need to spend too much time here trying to convince you why Star Wars is a great film. It helped create several iconic characters and moments in cinematic history, including several that revolve around the character of Darth Vader.
The Trivia: While Vader may be an iconic character, the person who acted out Vader and recorded the original lines was not James Earl Jones, but an actor by the name of David Prowse. Prowse stated in an interview that when they went to look at the footage that all the lines would have to have been re-dubbed.
“But they forgot to get me to do the dubbing before they went back to America and it was too expensive to fly me out there for the half-dozen or so lines I had, so they got James Earl Jones, who did a wonderful job.”
Prowse has had several fallings out with director George Lucas over the years and is currently banned from attending Star Wars conventions. He was also not contacted in any way about the new films, but frankly, he didn’t seem to care!
“My wife won’t have anything to do with Darth Vader and says Star Wars has been an intrusion into our life.”
17. Saving Private Ryan
Why It’s A Great Film: Saving Private Ryan came out in 1998 and stars Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, and Matt Damon. If the film doesn’t capture your attention right from the get-go with the storming of the beach, I don’t know what’s wrong with you! The film grossed $481.8 million worldwide and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
The Trivia: The main actors were made to go through a week-long fitness camp in order to best prepare for their role as soldiers. This included vigorous physical activity, awful meal plans and essentially was just not a very good time, especially for established actors. Fans of the movie will know that Matt Damon is not part of the main group for the first portion of the film, and as a result, he was exempt from the training. This was done so that the other actors would “generate genuine resentment towards him and his character.”
Easy to see how that would work!
Why It’s A Great Film: Well if you are going to define a successful film by the amount of awards it wins and the money it makes, then I don’t think it’s possible to not include Titanic on the list. Not to mention it was monumental in the overall career success of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The film ended up grossing $2.18 billion.
The Trivia: While some of these facts are about the movie, this one has to do with the cast and crew. It was reported that during the final night of shooting, someone had the brilliant of idea of sprinkling in dissociative hallucinogen PCP (angel dust) into the clam chowder that was being served to everyone. Thankfully James Cameron was able to realize what was going on before it was too late and was able to throw up the drug before it took effect. Over 75 people, including actor Bill Paxton, were not so lucky and were affected by the drugs.
15. Willy Wonka
Why It’s A Great Film: Willy Wonka is one of the most recognizable stories of all time. What child did not dream about potentially earning a trip to a chocolate factory?! Gene Wilder’s performance as Wonka was over-the-top, terrifying and captivating all at the same time.
The Trivia: When Wonka is first introduced on screen, he is seen limping towards the children and then suddenly somersaults into place. This seems like a small move, but if it was not left in the film, Wilder never would have signed on for the project. He believed that the misdirection was crucial, and would help keep everyone on their toes for the duration of the film. As an added fun fact, the child actors were not told about the somersault and believed Wilde was just playing the character injured.
Why It’s A Great Film: Anchorman may not be the biggest blockbuster of all time, but there is no doubt that it was one of the best comedies. The film was created by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and also helped bring along the careers of Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner.
The Trivia: Sometimes scripts get changed from the first draft, and Anchorman is no exception to the rule. McKay stated that when the story was first pitched, it was going to be about a plane full of news anchors that crashes into the mountains. It would then be revealed that the plane was carrying monkeys…as well as martial arts equipment. You can probably see where that’s leading!
13. The Terminator
Why It’s A Great Film: The Terminator franchise may have run itself into the ground by now, but there is no doubting that the first few films are some of the best out there. They helped introduce the world to Arnold and feature enough action to satisfy any macho man. The original film has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation, deeming it worthy of being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
“This was when everybody loved him, and ironically that was part of the problem—he was this likable, goofy, kind of innocent guy. Plus, frankly, I wasn’t interested in an African-American man chasing around a white girl with a knife.”
Hard to argue with Cameron’s logic! Thankfully they went another way, but at least OJ did a pretty good job of ruining his clean-cut image!
12. The Avengers
Why Is It A Great Film: Whether or not it was your favourite film from the Marvel franchise, there is no doubting the overall success of The Avengers film. It grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide and its sequel grossed $1.4 billion. Talk about the pressure being on to make a good film!
The Trivia: There are several scenes during the first movie in which Robert Downey Jr. is eating food. This was apparently done because Robert had been hiding food all over the set and they were unable to track it all down. Considering saving the world is an exhausting thing, I suppose it makes sense they allowed Robert to keep eating during the scenes.
The scene after the credits in which the Avengers are seen eating shawarma was also suggested by Robert. Clearly he’s often got food on the brain!
11. The Departed
Why It’s A Great Film: I’m not going to be able to get through this list and not include a film by, in my opinion, the greatest film director of all time: Martin Scorsese. His masterpiece could very well be The Departed which finally won him an award for Best Director (among others). The film is also brilliantly acted some great acted, including Nicholson and DiCaprio who helped create an unscripted moment of cinematic history.
The Trivia: In this scene, there is some tension as DiCaprio talks to Nicholson about whether he has the courage to commit murder. The tension builds, at least until Nicholson pulls out a loaded gun and points it at Leo, who you can see has a look of genuine shock and fear on his face. That may be especially because 1) It was a loaded gun, and 2) Nicholson didn’t tell anyone (including director Scorsese) that he was going to use it in the scene. I cannot imagine a rookie actor would have gotten away with bringing a loaded firearm to a set without telling anyone, but Nicholson is far from a rookie!
Why It’s A Great Film: The original Ghostbusters is a fantastic film and while it did not make as much money as some on this list, nobody can deny that it’s one of the most iconic films of all time. At the very least it gave us a great theme song to shake our booty to! We just have to do our best to ignore the spin-off that is coming out in the very near future.
The Trivia: While it is not hard to advertise a Ghostbusters movie in 2016, things were not so easy for the team during the time of the original release. Actor Ivan Reitman decided to set up a trailer to play an ad for Ghostbusters and contained a real phone number that people could call and receive a pre-recorded message of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd saying that they were too busy out catching ghosts to answer the phone. A version of the ad plays prominently in the movie, albeit with a fake number. They reportedly got over 1,000 calls per hour, every hour, for over six weeks.
9. The Lord Of The Rings
Why It’s A Great Film: The Lord of the Rings is one of the most successful film franchises of all time. A real-life adaption of JRR Tolkien’s novel, the movies helped captivate people’s attention over the span of 3 films and brought in over a billion dollars. The prequel The Hobbit was not as well received, but still help make LOTR one of the most important movie franchises out there.
The Trivia: During the first film there is a character, Boromir, who is played by Sean Bean. Apparently Bean was afraid of helicopters, which is what the cast and crew needed to travel in every day in order to get to the location of the shoot. As a result, Bean instead climbed up the mountain while decked out in his wardrobe. There are also reports that Viggo Mortensen would also walk with him at times in order to help make his outfit look more authentically worn.
8. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Why It’s A Great Film: Like many films on this list, Indiana Jones is part of a series that has helped change cinema forever. The original film, Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in 1981 and helped further cement the career of Harrison Ford. Directed by Steven Spielberg, you can expect a high-quality film that was well deserving of being the top-grossing film of that year.
The Trivia: There is a great moment in the film in which Indiana Jones is up against an enemy who is wielding a sword. You may be expecting a big fancy duel, at least until Indy pulls out his gun and promptly shoots the man dead. Apparently there was an elaborate fight scene that was scripted, but Ford was battling dysentery at the time and reportedly went to Spielberg stating “Let’s just shoot the sucker.”
It’s one of the best scenes in the entire series, so I suppose we should all be glad that Ford was feeling under the weather!
7. Pulp Fiction
Why It’s A Great Film: Pulp Fiction is one of the greatest films of all time and it is too bad it did not win Best Picture at the 1994 Academy Awards (damn you, Forrest Gump!). The film shows an intertwining of different stories and is acted impeccably by Samuel Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman and many other recognizable faces. While it only won one Academy Award, it was still huge in helping further along the career of Quentin Tarantino who took home the award for Best Original Screenplay.
The Trivia: While you can look at the film now and imagine it would have been an easy role to say yes to, that was not the case for Uma Thurman. She turned down the role originally and it was only after Tarantino called her up and read her the script over the phone that she agreed to take on the role. That definitely had the chance to backfire, but kudos to Tarantino for showing some serious persistence. Given how often the two have worked together since then, it was clearly a smart decision on both of their parts to say yes.
6. Star Wars
The Trivia: You didn’t think you’d be able to get out of this list with only one piece of Star Wars trivia, did you? While I won’t spend time telling you why the film is amazing, you may be amazed to learn that the original name for Luke Skywalker was actually Luke Starkiller. It was not until a few months into production that they decided to switch the name to Skywalker. When asked about it, Lucas stated “That I did because I felt a lot of people were confusing him with someone like Charles Manson. It had very unpleasant connotations.”
For those unaware, in the late 60s actress, Sharon Tate was murdered by Manson and his followers, so you can definitely understand why Lucas didn’t want to run with the idea of a Star Killer.
5. The Dark Knight
Why It’s A Great Film: There are many fantastic Batman films out there, but I think many would agree that The Dark Knight is the best one. Starring an unforgettable (albeit tragic) performance by Heath Ledger, the movie earned a little over $1 billion at the box office. Unfortunately, as I am sure you know, Heath Ledger passed away before the release of the film.
The Trivia: It is perhaps only fitting that the trivia is going to be linked to the amazing performance by Ledger. In order to get the proper look for the Joker’s makeup, Ledger took it upon himself to create the design using things he found at a local drugstore. His design was approved and then the professional makeup team went to work replicating it for each day of shooting. Similarly, Heath suggested that there should be white makeup over The Jokers’ hands so that it would give the audience the impression that he applied the makeup himself.
4. Jurassic Park
Why It’s A Great Film: At the time of its release, there were few things in film as impressive and terrifying as seeing the T-Rex on screen in the first Jurassic Park. While not everyone made it out of the series alive, the series itself is still alive and kicking; with the most recent one coming out in 2015. When the film first came out, it grossed over $900 million, which made it the highest-grossing film of all time (though times change!), so at least you can understand why sequels had to happen.
The Trivia: You may have thought the T-Rex was terrifying on screen, but you didn’t have to deal with it behind the scenes! One of the producers, Kathleen Kennedy, opened up in an interview about some of the issues that were occurring.
“The T-rex went into the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Scared the crap out of us. We’d be, like, eating lunch, and all of a sudden a T-rex would come alive. At first, we didn’t know what was happening, and then we realized it was the rain. You’d hear people start screaming.”
At least a robot coming to life is probably a lot less scary than a real dinosaur coming back to life!
3. Harry Potter
Why It’s A Great Film: There are a lot of big franchises on this list, but for many readers, it’s Harry Potter that they grew up with. The books are fantastic, and a huge amount of credit goes out to the cast and crew that helped bring the books to life. The series brought in over a billion, and many of the main cast, such as Emma Watson, are just getting started. Anytime you can put together 8 films and have it span the amount of time that the Potter series did, you deserve a lot of credit.
The Trivia: As you can imagine with a franchise that lasted a long time, that they would end up going through a lot of props! It was reported that lead actor Daniel Radcliffe went through roughly 60 to 70 wands throughout the course of filming the series. As a bonus fun fact, the wands were consistently made to be between 13-15 inches long, allowing the characters to grow into their wands as they got older.
2. Iron Man
Why It’s A Great Film: The cinematic world would not be anything close to what it is today if not for the success of the first Iron Man. It helped restart the career of Robert Downey Jr. and paved the way for the entire Marvel Universe to start unfolding. While Jeff Bridges was only in this film, he was able to share a great piece of movie trivia.
The Trivia: Bridges talked about how during filming, there was not exactly a script to go off of (because who needs that, right?).
Instead, he said
“They had an outline. We would show up for big scenes every day and we wouldn’t know what we were going to say. We would have to go into our trailer and work on this scene and call up writers on the phone, ‘You got any ideas?’”
Talk about being fortunate that they hired talented enough actors to make that work!
1. The Dark Knight (Again!)
Like Star Wars, The Dark Knight is so incredible that I don’t think anyone is going to come after me for including a second piece of fantastic trivia for the film. It was reported after Ledger’s passing, that the actor had hidden himself away in a motel room for six weeks where he tried to dig deeper into the psychology behind the character. Eventually, he said his inspiration came from a combination of Sid Vicious with the mannerisms of Alex Delarge (who is the psychotic lead in A Clockwork Orange).