Even though the terms character or actor secret refer to something specific, we’re going to stretch what’s allowed here a bit. Basically, a character secret or an actor secret is something that is known to the actor but not to the audience. It may be hinted at or alluded to, but it is not directly revealed, and it doesn’t have a massive impact on the plot. If it did, we would know about it. Some directors, such as Guillermo del Toro, are known for providing their actors with character biographies that include little secrets. These secrets can inform the actor’s performance and, when discovered by the audience, can add an extra element to the character, particularly when trying to flesh out a backstory.
Now, the standard understanding of these secrets are all fine and dandy, and most of the entries on this list work within this definition. But we decided to include some fun little character/actor secrets that don’t really impact anything. We just found them hilarious and thought you should know about them. These funny little things may be better categorized as film facts rather than secrets, but since we weren’t supposed to know about them, secret isn’t the worst term to use. Without further ado, let’s learn a little more about some of our favorite film characters. Here are 20 Hidden Character Secrets That Make So Much Sense.
20. Vincent Hanna – Heat
Heat is still considered one of the best heist films of all time. Technically, it’s much more than a simple heist movie, but you get the idea. In the early drafts of the screenplay for the film, Al Pacino‘s character, Vincent Hanna, was actually said to be “chipping c*caine” as often as he could. This helped to explain why he was so high-strung and energetic throughout the entire movie. Eventually, the cock bit was trashed, but Pacino kept it very much alive in his performance. Even without seeing the actual drug use on screen, it’s easy to see that he was definitely performance-aided.
19. Fang – Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Remember in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry, Ron, and Fang, the Mastiff that is supposed to be a coward, walk through the forest looking for Aragog? In that scene, the boys and the dog are surrounded by spiders. The boys try to fight them off as Fang barks away. Well, the actual dog playing Fang, a female named Bella, was not as much of a coward as the character Fang. When shooting the scene, Bella kept getting super defensive of Harry and Ron and would jump in front of the boys to defend them from the huge animatronic spider. This caused the shoot to go on much longer than expected until they finally got Bella to stand by and watch.
18. Nicholas Van Orton – The Game
There has been plenty of debate over the years about what The Game is really about and what really happens at the end of the film. In truth, no one knows for sure, but there are hints. For this list, we’ll look at Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas). We know that Nicholas’ father killed himself on his 48th birthday. Now, Nicholas is turning 48. He has pushed away his entire family and is haunted by his father’s death. When his brother gives him the gift of this “game,” it appears that it ends up pushing Nicholas to try and kill himself as well, but it may have actually saved his life. Nicholas was headed toward suicide himself, just as his father had. The brother, Conrad, set up this game as an intervention of sorts, letting Nicholas attempt suicide and live to regret it.
17. The Extras – A Night’s Tale
While this may not necessarily give you any background into the characters, we feel compelled to tell you this hilarious bit of trivia from A Knights Tale. Remember that scene in which Heath Ledger wins a joust and Chaucer (Paul Bettany) gives an epic speech to the crowd? It’s meant to gain huge applause and cheers from the onlooking crowd, but they stand there silently after his speech, not really knowing what’s going on. Now, most of us believe that Chaucer’s poetic speech and big words confused the crowd and that’s why we don’t hear a pip from them until Roland (Mark Addy) gets them cheering. Roland does this simply by saying “yayyy,” and the crowd follows. Well, it turns out that extras in the crowd were all Eastern European and didn’t speak English, so Roland’s gentle nudging was extremely helpful.
16. Nick – Zootopia
Sure, we are informed about Nick’s sad past in the film Zootopia. We learn that he badly wanted to be a Junior Ranger Scout. Though Nick was poor, his mother saved up money and got him in. When he joined, however, Nick was badly mistreated, muzzled, and beaten. This trauma obviously stuck with Nick. It gave him a fear of muzzles and led him to be untrustworthy. He also decided to never show his vulnerable side. But it was there in front of us, if only secretively, the entire time. Nick’s dirty old handkerchief that he carried with him as an adult was the bandana from his Junior Ranger Scout’s uniform, showing that he never gave up hope of fitting in.
15. Garth – Wayne’s World
The “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in Wayne’s World is easily the most iconic scene in the film. It didn’t just help that film remain in the public eye for so many years, but it also helped that song become a bigger hit in the U.S. than it ever was before. In that scene, the gang in the car all join in and sing along with the famous song. They even have dedicated parts to sing when it’s their turn. Garth joins in on the fun and looks to be crushing it, but watch closely. Dana Carvey actually didn’t know the words to the song, save a few easy parts. He just mouthed along as the song played. You can spot his confusion in a few wide shots, though the camera does avoid him for the most part.
14. Jesse – Near Dark
This story has gained a lot of traction in the horror film community, but we’re pretty sure the average film fan still has never seen Near Dark, let alone know character secrets that are never explicitly revealed in the film. So, we have included it here. Enjoy. Jesse, the character played by Lance Henriksen, gives us a hint of his backstory in the film. He mentions that he was in the Civil War and that “we lost.” From that, we can figure that he fought with the South. There’s also the Confederate flag in the back of the van and even one stitched in Jesse’s coat, but that’s not much. Henriksen did elaborate later on, saying that he was in the Navy and was found bleeding out by a Harpy and fed on. This turned him into a “nocturnal nomad.”
13. Johnny – The Room
Truth be told, we don’t know anything about really any of the characters in The Room. If you’ve seen The Disaster Artist, you’ve seen them mock a few of the character mysteries, such as Lisa’s mom’s (Claudette) breast cancer. But the little actor secret we’ve chosen for this has to do with Tommy Wiseau and his character, Johnny. We all know the flower shop scene in which Johnny somehow sneaks up and surprises the florist. Well, she wasn’t the only one surprised in that scene. After Johnny picks up the flowers upside down, he looks over and says “hai doggy,” patting the puppy on the head. Well, according to Wiseau, he was surprised by the dog because he didn’t know it was “a real thing” at first.
12. Borat – Borat
We consider this one an actor secret because it’s something that the actor, Sasha Baron Cohen, used to help his character get more genuine reactions from others during his interactions, but the audience was unaware of it. We’re talking about the revelation that Cohen didn’t clean his clothes or wear any deodorant during the filming of Borat. We’re assuming he still showered, but he was otherwise sweaty and smelly, and the suit was the recipient of all that stench. For Cohen, he believed that “the smell is an added thing for people to believe that I’m from a country where hygiene wasn’t a necessity.”
11. Butch – Pulp Fiction
Almost everything in the Tarantinoverse has been discussed to death, but we’re going to entertain this little tidbit one more time because it fits in with the whole character secret bit we’re dealing with here. In Pulp Fiction, there is a fun little plot line under the surface of the film that deals with the mystery of the keyed car. We hear Vincent bemoaning the fact that someone keyed his car, but even if we were trying to discover who did it, it’s difficult to know who because the film is all scrambled and out of order. Well, not anymore. We know it was Butch who keyed Vincent’s car, and it happened after their little confrontation at the bar. Tarantino himself confirmed it. Butch was offended by Vincent in the bar, so he walked out and keyed the only car in the parking lot that he didn’t recognize Vincent’s.
10. Willy Wonka – Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
While the sticklers may not like that we’re classifying this as a character secret because it’s revealed to everyone during the film, we’re including it because we call the shots and people may not be familiar with this piece of trivia. When it came time to film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder was kept separate from the kids. This was pretty much only done so that he could surprise them when he first introduced himself out front of the factory.
This, you’ll remember, was the first time that we, the audience, meet him too. He walks out of the factory with a cane and a limp. He slowly walks up to the crowd. Then, after his cane gets stuck in a brick and Wonka falls over, he does a swift somersault and springs to his feet to the delight of the crowd. From that point on, nothing Wonka said or did could be trusted.
9. Doctor Moreau – The Island Of Dr. Moreau
Even though Marlon Brando wanted there to be a big reveal about his character in The Island of Dr. Moreau that never made it into the final cut, we believe that Brando’s performance was still informed by a character secret. This secret was that he, Dr. Moreau, had a blowhole. More specifically, Dr. Moreau was a human-dolphin hybrid. Throughout filming, Brando pitched this idea a number of times, but he was shut down. At least, the reveal was shut down. Brando still got to wear hats in every scene, which were originally intended to hide his blowhole. Even though he was denied the reveal, we have no doubt that Brando, ever the man who marched to the beat of his own drum, believed that there was a blowhole hiding under those hats.
8. Qui-Gon Jinn – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
If you ever looked at Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and thought to yourself, dang, that is a sweet beard, then this one’s for you. Perhaps this is not canon, but we believe that the reason Qui-Gon Jinn was so follically blessed in the facial region is because he always carried a razor on his person. Now, this wasn’t just any razor, though. It was a Ladies Sensor Excell razor, one of the premiere razors on the market. Plus, what’s even better is it doubled as a communication device.
7. Dr. Copper – The Thing
It may not impact you the same way it did us, but when we learned that John Carpenter gave the actors on The Thing the chance to create their own character backstories and Richard Dysart (Dr. Copper) decided to make his character a Russian spy, it changed the film’s dynamics. This is a film about paranoia and a claustrophobia. Adding in elements of the Cold War and a small spy mystery really adds to the overall film. Try it. Watch The Thing again with the knowledge that Copper was a Russian spy and see if it adds to the film or makes it more convoluted.
6. Venkman – Ghostbusters
We’re big fans of Ghostbusters and everything Venkman, but even we can see that this man has done some pretty questionable things. Sure, times have changed. Back then, we were a little less critical of what white men did. Still, when Venkman goes to Dana’s house for a simple night out and finds her possessed by a demon of some sort, that should have been the weirdest part of the night. But, things got weirder. Not long after, we see Dana sleeping and Venkman on the phone saying, “I just whacked her off with about 300CCs of Thorazine. She’s gonna take a little nap now.” First of all, that much of the drug would be fatal. But why the hell does Venkman have a syringe and Thorazine? It seems to us that Venkman’s little secret is that he doesn’t play fair on the field of love.
5. Hook And Smee – Hook
Hook is one of those films that is a treasure trove of trivia. We have so many little things going on that only add to what is already a great film. For the purposes of this list, we’re only concerned with the little character secret that Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins created while rehearsing for the roles of Captain Hook and Smee. Hoffman himself said, “Bob Hoskins and I were rehearsing and suddenly we looked at each other and realized it at the same time. We said, ‘These guys are gay….’ and it was fun… Suddenly, we rehearsed it that way: ‘Get over here, Smee. Give me a foot massage… We went to Spielberg… and he said, ‘This is a kids’ movie… It made all the sense in the world. They were really good friends. They lived on a ship. They were devoted to each other.”
4. HAL – 2001: A Space Odyssey
This isn’t as much a character secret as it is an overlooked character detail. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL, the on-board computer system, is giving two orders that end up conflicting. One orders him to send any and all information back to headquarters. The second order is to keep everything secret. Now, when they discover the monolith, HAL determines that he cannot perform both orders. Therefore, he reasons that he should disable communications and thus satisfying his second order of keeping things secret. The human crew notice that HAL disabled communications and try to fix it. If they are to succeed, HAL would be compromised again. Therefore, he decides to eliminate them.
3. Harry – In Bruges
In the final cut of In Bruges, we understand that Harry, the mob boss, has a strict morality. He ends up killing himself because he believes he killed a child, but is there any other reasoning other than just being a stickler for his own moral code? Yes. Although, some of it was cut. We learn that Harry ordering a hit on the priest was more than a job, but that’s really all we know. In a deleted scene, however, we see a young Harry with a priest. This priest has the same ring as the one who is ordered dead and this was Harry’s “last happy holiday.” There are some clear indications here that Harry was abused by this man.
2. The Butler – The Sound Of Music
Despite the stage musical making this point/secret quite clear, The Sound of Music film is still a little more ambiguous. We’re looking at the Butler, Franz. Think back to when Rolf shows up at the front door. Look at how smiley and bright-eyed Franz is in this shot. He’s extremely happy to see him. Later, when the family tries to sneak out away from the Nazis, watch that old dog Franz suspiciously looking out the window. This is the man who tipped off the Nazis on the family. Franz is a Nazi supporter.
1. Giles – The Shape Of Water
We will avoid any major spoilers here, so no worries. Richard Jenkins is getting a lot of attention for his performance in the recent Guillermo Del Toro film, The Shape of Water, and rightfully so. In the film, we learn that Giles, Jenkins’ character, is gay. He, like so many in the film, are invisible and hiding in the world. But there are some subtle details to the character that lie under the surface. For one, we learn that Giles is on leave from his old place of work. Although it is only a very minor part of the film, we can deduce that Giles and his employer may have had some private encounters. At least, this is what Jenkins drew from the script and inferred in his performance.
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