Sometimes in film, the magic happens behind the scenes. Iconic movies become iconic not just because they achieve filmmaking excellence, but because what happens on set is so outrageous and eccentric that the film garners infamy. Tn fact, the day-to-day tales behind these landmark flicks are quirky, unusual, laugh-out-loud funny and at times ridiculous. So without further ado, lights, camera, action! Here are 20 quirky behind-the-scenes facts you didn’t know about everyone’s favorite iconic movies.
20. Meet the Parents (2000)
When most people think of Robert De Niro, they remember his seriously badass performances in Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. However, while filming the comedy Meet the Parents, he showed a warmer, fuzzier side. Behind the scenes, in fact, De Niro formed a bond with mischievous cat Mr. Jinx – not only cavorting with him before and after takes, but vehemently pushing for the cat to get more screen time. If you thought scenes with this nine-lifer were overkill, then, you know who to blame.
19. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
When silver screen classic The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939, some of the costumed characters arguably looked quite frightening at the time. Hell, in 2016 there’s still something creepy about the villainous Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys. It may surprise film fans, then, to hear that the heroic characters – the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man – chose to spend their meal times chowing down in their dressing quarters to avoid scaring off diners in the studio cafe.
18. Bronson (2008)
Crime film Bronson was well-received, with some critics even calling it “a modern-day classic.” This was largely due to leading man Tom Hardy’s off-the-rails portrayal of the titular British prison inmate nicknamed after American actor Charles Bronson. But perhaps little known to viewers is the fact that Hollywood star Bronson actually sheared off his own ’stache and gave it to Hardy to use in the movie. Now that’s what we call getting inspiration right from the source.
17. Schindler’s List (1993)
Schindler’s List is one of director Steven Spielberg’s most critically lauded films, but it’s hardly a walk in the park. Indeed, the chilling real-life Holocaust story must have been a rather depressing exploration for its cast and crew. Still, Spielberg knew how to turn their frowns upside down. When in dire need of a laugh, there was no one better to call upon than comic legend Robin Williams – so the director rang him and put him on speaker for all to hear. Nanoo nanoo!
16. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
When movie legends Sean Connery and Harrison Ford got together for 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, sparks understandably flew – and not in the fiery way befitting of two blustery alpha males. It was literally hot on the set. The sweat-inducing temperatures caused Connery to take off his pants during a scene, only to be met with the same response from Ford. As such, in the movie, the pair appear to be talking normally at a table; meanwhile, out of view, they are actually sitting around in their briefs!
15. Goodfellas (1990)
Mom’s home-cooking is always the best, and evidently, director Martin Scorsese thought the same thing when he was filming his iconic mafia flick Goodfellas. His mother Catherine features in the movie as an Italian matriarch; behind the scenes, moreover, she was just as hands on. For the memorable dinner table scene, she whipped up the pasta that the fearsome mob trio gobbles down with gusto. Mamma wouldn’t have it any other way!
14. The Dark Knight (2008)
Late actor Heath Ledger’s depiction of the Joker in The Dark Knight is possibly one of the most intense and frightening performances in modern film – a performance that even left an old-school great speechless. In one scene, in which the Joker ascends in an elevator, Michael Caine can be seen in the background visibly shaken from seeing the crazed psychopath. The prolific British actor was actually supposed to deliver his lines but was rendered speechless by Ledger’s villain.
13. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
1994’s modern Gothic masterpiece Interview with the Vampire was conceptually deep and strangely thought-provoking. Some of this can be attributed to the care it took to bring the undead to life. In fact, the attention to detail even went as far as actors portraying vamps suspending themselves upside down like bats in order to get their facial blood vessels to noticeably protrude – an exercise that took roughly a half hour to perform. Strasberg would have been proud!
12. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Louise Fletcher’s phenomenal performance as the wretched Nurse Ratched is a well-known feature of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Yet, far less publicized is what occurred at the end of production. Tired of always having to play the ice queen while her fellow actors got to ham it up, she decided to show them she was far from a cold creature. And show them she did. Fletcher stripped down to her undies, which most likely got a boisterous reaction from Jack Nicholson and the guys.
11. The Mummy (1999)
Mummies are well-known for keeping things relatively under wraps – however, this was not the case in the 1999 swashbuckling adventure movie The Mummy. Fans may recall the scene in which Imhotep orchestrates the sandstorm. Although the camera glides upwards, all the real action takes place off camera, below – as the wind machines creating the effects sweep on, ultimately air-lifting actor Arnold Vosloo’s cape, only to reveal his fine posterior. Calm down, ladies!
10. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Actress Chiaki Kuriyama – who played assassin Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill: Volume 1 – may have looked innocent but, as director Quentin Tarantino discovered behind the scenes, this was the furthest thing from the truth. While filming a scene in the 2003 martial arts movie, in which her dangerous character casts off her ball and chain, Kuriyama inadvertently struck Tarantino’s head. Chiaki, it’s Kill Bill, not Kill Quentin!
9. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring actor Sean Bean has a bit of a flying phobia – hardly ideal when many of the 2001 film’s locations were not easily accessible. Still, he refused to head to work via helicopter with his fellow actors after a particularly treacherous ’copter journey. So how did he get around this? Bean set off by foot hours before the rest of the cast and crew and hiked his way there. Not a bad premise for another adventure movie.
8. Chinatown (1974)
What do you do when your employer won’t let you go on a bathroom break? Well, if you want to be extreme about it, you could take note of this jaw-dropping story from the set of iconic noir film Chinatown. After director Roman Polanski barred actress Faye Dunaway from going to the ladies’ room, she proceeded to urinate into a cup and flung the warm liquid at his face. It’s fair to say that Polanski had been taking the piss – in more ways than one…
7. Terminator 2 (1991)
We’ve all waltzed into random bars, but when one particular pedestrian stumbled into one, she got more than she bargained for. She actually walked into the biker watering hole set from Terminator 2, and to her surprise spotted Arnold Schwarzenegger standing there clad only in boxer shorts. After the woman was understandably confused, then, the reputedly potty-mouthed Schwarzenegger told her it was “male stripper night.” We imagine she grabbed a wad of ones and stuck around.
6. Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999)
The Phantom Menace may not be a great movie, but this little behind-the-scenes factoid almost makes it worth seeing. As anyone who grew up on Star Wars knows, the sci-fi franchise can spur some great imaginary fight sequences – even in its own fully grown actors. When Ewan McGregor was cast as Obi-Wan Kenobi, for example, he picked up the famous lightsaber and mimicked the weapon’s sound. When George Lucas informed him several times that audio effects would be added later, McGregor responded, “I keep getting carried away.”
5. The Exorcist (1973)
While The Exorcist isn’t known for its kooky hijinks, one on-set story is high on the eccentricity meter. Director William Friedkin was after some honest, real reaction shots in the ridiculously scary classic, so he fired off a pistol loaded with blanks between takes so that the cast’s horrified responses could be immortalized. These were then added to the scene in which Regan is stirring upstairs. Something tells us, though, that the cast didn’t have a blast during this shoot…
4. The Crucible (1996)
Method actor Daniel Day-Lewis is known for his all-encompassing approach to his roles; with 1996’s The Crucible, though, he really took this to another level. The fictional town featured in the movie also became a temporary home for the quirky actor, despite the fact that it did not benefit from modern amenities like water and electricity. As a result, Day-Lewis arrived on set every day – from principal photography to wrap – unwashed. Talk about making sacrifices for your art – ew!
3. Labyrinth (1986)
Unlike Day-Lewis, David Bowie had some professional self-awareness. In the 1986 movie Labyrinth, for one, a juggler had to largely work crotch-level with the pop star. To help ease the burden on his nostrils, then, Bowie placed potpourri on his own groin area, under his thin tights. It wasn’t a bad idea, either – indeed, director Jim Henson liked the new wardrobe addition so much that he decided he wanted it in the movie as well.
2. E.T. (1982)
The voice of E.T. the extra-terrestrial in the movie of the same name was famously that of a female senior citizen. But never one to be ageist, director Steven Spielberg also tapped into a kid’s unusual skills back in the pre-CGI days, when shooting the movie’s kitchen segments. The director employed the unusual artistry of a talented legless ten-year-old boy, who was capable of masterfully ambling around on his hands, to play the lovable alien in those scenes.
1. Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club featured many amazing moments, but we don’t think Brad Pitt enjoyed this one too much. In the scene in which Pitt’s character encourages Edward Norton’s to slug him, it was set up to be a faux hit. Director David Fincher altered those circumstances just before the shoot, informing Norton that he must do the punch for real. What played out was brilliantly captured, as the viewer can see Pitt literally grimace after receiving the blow. So much for not being real…