It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that every year when 4/20 rolls around that three things are certain; there is a spike in pizza sales, cereal will be sold-out and Half Baked will air on TV. Half Baked is a classic stoner film that revolves around Thurgood Jenkins, Scarface and Brian, who start selling marijuana in order to raise enough funds to bail their friend Kenny out of prison. Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan co-wrote the script and Tamra Davis directed the film. It was released on January 16, 1998, and starred Dave Chappelle, Jim Breuer, Guillermo Diaz, Rachel True and Harland Williams. Half Baked is considered a stoner cult classic film despite its initial performance. Dave Chappelle had made a name for himself as a stand up comedian and was given the opportunity to write a film. Since its release the film has become very popular with pot smokers especially around 4/20, which takes place every year on April 20th. Besides the actual day of 4/20, the film is often associated with the marijuana culture. It joins several other stoner classics, such as Up In Smoke, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and Pineapple Express.
Half Baked is a beloved film amongst its fans. However, some fans might be surprised to know a few things about the film they didn’t know before. There are several behind the scenes secrets and happenings that some fans might not be aware of. Here is a look at 15 things you didn’t know about Half Baked.
15) Half Baked Was Considered A Flop
Half Baked was released on January 16, 1998 and ranked at number 6 on its opening weekend. The film was made on a budget of $8 million and made roughly $17,460,020 by the end of its run. Half Baked can be considered somewhat of a success at the box office. However, the film gained overwhelming negative reviews. At the time the film was considered a major flop, with CNN going as far as to say it was the end of Dave Chappelle’s career. Luckily for us it wasn’t the end of his career as he went on to create one of the greatest sketch comedy series of all time. The film had only a pretty short run in theatres and was pulled for various reasons (one of the reasons was because audience members were smoking weed in the theater). However, since then Half Baked has become one of the most famous stoner films and a cult classic.
14) Jim Breuer Was High During Only One Scene, “Sucks To Be You Man”
Many have the misconception that during filming the cast was smoking pot the whole time. In fact, that’s not the case and the cast was very professional. Jim Breuer falls in the category of being professional… well, except for one scene. Jim Breuer is a stand up comedian, actor and TV host. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 1998. He’s also released the comedy specials Hardcore and Let’s Clear The Air. He hosted The Jim Breuer Show on MTV in 1998. In Half Baked, Breuer portrayed the lovable stoner and record store employee Brian. During filming, Breuer was completely sober and smoked no pot before scenes. However, one day he had finished all of his scenes so he went back to his trailer and smoked a bit of pot. Moments later he was informed that he was needed back on set to shoot one final scene. Actor Clarence Williams threatened to quit the film unless all of his scenes were finished that day. Breuer forced himself to make it on set to film one more scene but it required several takes and he repeated the line, “Sucks to be you man”, over and over.
13) The Prison
Thurgood (Dave Chappelle), Scarface (Guillermo Diaz) and Brian (Jim Breuer) end up creating a very successful pot dealing business. Initially, their goal was to raise just enough money to bail their friend Kenny (Harland Williams) out of prison. However, they lose track of that goal and spend most of the money on other items, such as going on expensive dates, a vicious dog and a pouch containing the ghost of Jerry Garcia. Kenny spends a lot more time in prison than he would like. Half Baked takes place in and around the City of New York. Several iconic landmarks can be seen, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, which is prominent at the end of the film. A huge inspiration for the film was the city of New York. However, a majority of the film was actually shot in Toronto, Canada, with some scenes shot in New York. In the film, Kenny ends up sent to prison after he accidentally kills a police horse. Thurgood, Scarface and Brian visit Kenny in prison. Several scenes take place at the prison but it wasn’t always shot in an actual prison. Several of the exterior shots are actually the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant in Toronto.
12) Clarence Williams III Didn’t Enjoy His Time During Filming
Thurgood, Scarface and Brian’s pot dealing business turns out to be a major success. However, they end up angering the local pot dealer Samson Simpson, after they steal away most of his business. Clarence Williams III portrayed tough, no-nonsense drug dealer Samson Simpson. Clarence Williams III is an actor who is best known for his role as Linc Hayes on the counterculture cop show, The Mod Squad (from 1968-1973). He also appeared in a number of stage plays, including Walk in Darkness, Double Talk and King John. He received a Tony nomination for his role in the stage play, Slow Dance on The Killing Ground. In Half Baked, Williams played a terrifying and powerful drug dealer who becomes angry with the guys when they start encroaching on his territory. However, it’s been reported that Clarence Williams was unhappy and didn’t enjoy his time on the film. He even threatened to quit the film unless all of his scenes were finished shooting in one day.
11) Dave Chappelle And Jim Breuer: Buddies
This isn’t really about Half Baked but more about Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer. It’s been noted that Chappelle and Breuer have an incredible amount of chemistry together. Prior to Half Baked, the two friends almost starred in a sitcom together. In 1995, Chappelle and Breuer appeared on an episode of ABC’s hit sitcom Home Improvement. The episode featured Chappelle and Breuer appearing on “Tool Time” and asking Tim “The Toolman” Taylor (Tim Allen) love advice. Their appearance proved to be so popular that they were given their own sitcom an ABC, Buddies. However, after the pilot was shot Christopher Gartin replaced Breuer but the chemistry that Chappelle had with Breuer wasn’t there with Gartin. The series ended up being a flop and was cancelled after 5 episodes.
Chappelle noted that he knew the series wasn’t going to work, especially after Breuer’s firing. However, later Chappelle knew exactly who was perfect to play the role of stoned record store employee, Brian.
10) Snoop Dog Was Originally Set To Play Sir Smoke-a-Lot
During The Chappelle Show, Dave Chappelle often played numerous roles and portrayed several different characters sometimes in the same sketch. It’s possible that Half Baked helped prepare him for that task. In addition to playing the main character Thurgood, Dave Chappelle also portrayed rapper Sir Smoke-a-Lot. Sir Smoke-a-lot is one of the most popular characters in the film. He’s a rapper that smokes a lot of pot and likes to rap about it and his dealers. Chappelle recorded the song “Samson Gets Me Lifted” the night before the music video in the film was shot. However, Chappelle wasn’t initially going to play the role of Sir Smoke-a-Lot. Originally Snoop Dogg was set to play that role, which might be why Sir Smoke-a-lot has a similar hairstyle to Snoop. Instead it was decided that Chappelle would just take over the role. Snoop instead plays the role of the Scavenger Smoker who is constantly using people for weed without paying for it.
9) A Plethora Of Cameos
In Half Baked, Kenny Davis, portrayed by Harland Williams, is sent out by his friends to buy snacks after a pot smoking session. Kenny ends up feeding almost all the snacks to a police horse that dies. Kenny is sent to prison for killing the horse and his friends need to figure out a way to bail him out. They start their own marijuana selling company… basically they become pot dealers. They name themselves Mr. Nice Guy and soon become the number one dealers in the city. In the film, they describe the different types of pot smokers, such as the MacGyver smoker, enhancement smoker and the historian smoker. Their client list is huge and producers of the film spared no cost when it came to the cameos. Half Baked contains an awesome list of cameo appearances. Cameos in the film include Snoop Dogg, Jon Stewart, Bob Saget, Janeane Garofalo, Stephen Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong.
8) The Real Guy On The Couch
Half Baked featured several cameos but one in particular stuck out more than the rest. Living in Thurgood’s apartment is ‘The Guy On The Couch’. He has very few lines and is mostly seen sleeping on the couch. He does offer some advice and words of wisdom. Turns out that a real Guy On The Couch inspired ‘The Guy On The Couch’ in the film. While Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan were working on the script, a friend was crashing at Chappelle’s. His friend was often found sleeping on Chappelle’s couch. In Half Baked, ‘The Guy on the Couch’ is played by iconic stand up comedian Steven Wright. Wright is known for his slow paced, deadpan humor that features ironic, non-sequiturs and one-liners. He won an academy award for his short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings. He’s also released several comedy albums and specials, such as I Have A Pony, A Steven Wright Special and I Still Have A Pony. However, fans of Half Baked will always remember him as ‘The Guy On The Couch’.
7) The Beastie Boys Inspired The Set
Thurgood Jenkins’ apartment in the film is a unique and memorable set. The set used bright colors but the director gave the apartment a dirty feel to it. It included a kitchen that was right next to a bathtub and row of lockers. It also contained a shelf full of bongs and pipes, including, Billy Bong Thornton and Wesley Pipes. The inspiration for the apartment came from the director. The Beastie Boys were a hip-hop group that consisted of Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. The Beastie Boys have released several critically and commercially acclaimed albums, such as Licensed to Ill, Paul’s Boutique and Ill Communication. Mike D is married to Tamra Davis, the director of Half Baked. She took inspiration for the set from their Grand Royal Recording Studios. Specifically, Thurgood’s apartment is similar to the Beastie Boys’ recording studio, including the lockers lined up in the back.
6) “Jerry Garcia’s” Cameo
Since the films release, rumours have spread about Jerry Garcia’s appearance towards the end of the film. Some fans believe it to be the real Jerry Garcia, however Garcia died in 1995 and Half Baked was released in 1998. Jerry Garcia is an iconic musician who was a member of the legendary band, The Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead rose to fame in the 1960s during the counterculture era. The Grateful Dead is widely regarded as one of the greatest bands of all time. They released several albums, such as The Grateful Dead, Anthem of the Sun and American Beauty. The Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 but Garcia didn’t attend. He was suffering from several health issues. In Half Baked, the guys find themselves in immense danger against a rival pot dealer, Samson. Brian throws down a pouch and the ghost of Jerry Garcia appears to help the guys. However, Jerry Garcia died on August 9, 1995. Impersonator David Bluestein portrayed Jerry Garcia in the movie.
Director Tamra Davis has shown a lot of range in her career. Tamra Davis has directed several music videos, TV shows and films. Prior to Half Baked she directed the films Guncrazy starring Drew Barrymore, CB4 starring Chris Rock and Adam Sandler’s breakout role, Billy Madison. However, early in her career she directed a number of music videos. She said about her time directing music videos, “(music videos) played a huge role in developing my sensibility as a director. There’s much less sexism in the video world and they’re open to women. But more important, with video you’re always being pushed to experiment and come up with something new.” She directed music videos for several bands, such as Black Flag, Sonic Youth and N.W.A.
Right before she did Half Baked she directed the music video “MMMbop” by Hansen. Half Baked and “MMMbop” are clearly on the opposite sides of the spectrum but Tamra shows her range by directing the two very different things. She continues to work as a director and since Half Baked has directed episodes of Everybody Hates Chris and Grey’s Anatomy. She also directed the film Crossroads, starring Britney Spears.
4) Everyone On Set Used Fake Grass Except For Snoop Dogg
Several fans often ask the same question about films featuring drug use; “What were they smoking?” In most films, they’re not smoking real pot with the famous exception of the 1969 classic film, Easy Rider. The film features Dennis Hopper smoking real pot throughout the whole film. In Half Baked, the film features a great amount of marijuana use. Despite how realistic all the actors play stoned they’re actually smoking fake marijuana with one exception. Iconic rapper Snoop Dogg appears in the film in a minor role, playing the Scavenger smoker. Snoop is known for his laid back rhyming style and his love of smoking weed. Snoop has released several critically and commercially acclaimed albums, such as Doggiestyle, The Dogfather and Coolaid. During Snoop’s scene in Half Baked, he is smoking real pot with Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer. However, it’s unclear if Chappelle and Breuer are smoking real pot as well in the scene. The director was nervous while shooting the scene but the finished product is very authentic.
3) The Opening Scene Was A Major Risk
Thurgood, Scarface, Brian and Kenny have been best friends since they were kids and started smoking pot at a young age. This is shown in Half Baked and had a lot of studio executives worried. The opening scene of Half Baked was a huge risk for the studio. The scene is a flashback showing Thurgood, Scarface, Brian and Kenny as kids. It features them smoking pot for the first time and getting really high. They end up with a major case of the munchies and trip out. It turns out to be a great experience for them. However, the studio was incredibly nervous about the scene and even attempted to have the opening changed. The studio only allowed the scene to be in the film after it was shown at a test screening. The audience in attendance loved the opening and roared with laughter. The studio relented and allowed the scene to remain as is.
2) The Alternate Ending
In Half Baked, Thurgood, Scarface and Brian start selling pot under the name Mr. Nice Guy. They do this so they can raise enough money to bail their friend Kenny, out of jail. They end up upsetting the local drug dealer by stealing away some of his business. Things get even more complicated when Thurgood (Dave Chappelle) falls in love with a woman named Mary Jane Potman (Rachel True). She is the daughter of a pot dealer in jail and she’s completely against smoking pot. In the end, Thurgood has to choose between weed and Mary. At the very end, Thurgood stands on the Brooklyn Bridge and talks to a joint telling it that he’s got to give up pot for his love. He throws the joint over the bridge into the water below. He then walks away with the love of his life. The Fully Baked Edition of the film was released on DVD and includes an alternate ending. In the alternate ending, after throwing his joint over the bridge, Thurgood abandons Mary Jane and jumps over the bridge to get the joint back.
1) Dave Chappelle And Neal Brennan Dislike The Film
Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan co-wrote the script for Half Baked together. Later, they would find greater success together as they co-created and co-wrote the massively successful sketch comedy series, The Chappelle Show. Despite loving their initial script for Half Baked, both Chappelle and Brennan have expressed dislike over the finished product. During a 2006 appearance on Inside The Actors Studio, Chappelle noted that he preferred the original script before the studio got involved and made changes. He noted that the script written by Chappelle and Brennan was more for adults, however the studio changed the film into “a weed movie for kids.” Neal Brennan shares the same opinion as Chappelle. During an interview on The Breakfast Club in 2016, Brennan noted that once the film went into production everyone stopped listening to them and wouldn’t take any of their ideas or notes. The final product is not what they envisioned. However, despite being displeased with the finished product both greatly appreciate the love the fans have for Half Baked.
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