10 fascinating film facts you’ve probably never heard about

From one ‘Spider-Man’ scene that took 156 takes to a surprise cat in ‘The Godfather’, let’s dig up iconic bits of movie trivia

We now that film production can bring its share of surprises from actors getting cut out and re-filming to scenes that just don’t makt it on screen.

Some were intentional; others were happy accidents. Some of these make it onto the screen, while others live on quietly as hidden bits of movie history.

Matrix fans may not know where the film’s infamous lines of code came from, or Spider-Man aficionados may not be able to point out which specific scene necessitated 156 takes.

From improvised lines to production eccentricities, here are 10 captivating bits of movie trivia:

1. An innocent-seeming Spider-Man scene took 156 takes

In the 2002 Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker is seen coming to the help of his love interest Mary Jane after she slips inside their school cafeteria. Her lunch goes flying into the air, but Peter (aka Spider-Man) manages to swoop in, stop her fall, and catch all of her lunch items using her tray.

The scene wasn’t made using CGI, nor was it stapled together from different takes. Visual effects supervisor John Dykstra can be heard saying on the movie’s DVD commentary:  “This next gag here, where he catches all this stuff, [Maguire] actually did that. Pretty good. Take 156.”

Kirsten Dunst, who portrays Mary Jane, also states that no CGI was used, and adds that the tray was apparently stuck to Maguire’s hand during filming to help him catch the items.

2. The Matrix code comes from sushi recipes

All three existing Matrix films open with the same “digital rain”: vertical lines of code streaming down the screen to represent the virtual environment in which humans are unknowingly trapped.

The man behind the iconic code is Simon Whiteley, a production and concept designer who revealed the origins behind the design.

“I like to tell everybody that The Matrix’s code is made out of Japanese sushi recipes,” Whiteley told the outlet, explaining that he scanned the characters from Japanese cookbooks owned by his wife. “Without that code, there is no Matrix.”

3. The cat in The Godfather was a surprise

Don Corleone wasn’t always supposed to be stroking a cat during his tete a tete with Bonasera. Rather, director Francis Ford Coppola spotted the animal on the set and decided to include it in the scene.

“The cat in Marlon [Brando]’s hands was not planned for,” Coppola said. “I saw the cat running around the studio, and took it and put it in his hands without a word.”

4. Buzz Lightyear almost had a different name

Early designs for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear revealed the action figure was originally going to be called Lunar Larry – and its design was slightly different, too.

Buzz’s name was changed in a tribute to real-life astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first two humans to walk on the Moon on 20 July 1969. (Armstrong went first and Aldrin joined him about 20 minutes later.)

5. The trash in All the President’s Men came straight from the source

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman famously portray Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in All the President’s Men, a dramatisation of how the newspaper broke the Watergate scandal.

“Tens of thousands of dollars” were spent in order to recreate the Washington Post’s newsroom. That mission, according to the newspaper itself, including shipping “genuine Washington Post trash to Hollywood” in order to make sure the newsroom clutter looked authentic.

6. There’s a lot of Starbucks hiding in Fight Club

David Fincher once said he hid Starbucks cups “everywhere, in every shot” of his 1999 adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the coffee chain.

“When I first moved to LA in 1984, you could not get a good cup of coffee in Los Angeles to save your life. I mean, it was really pathetic,” he said.

“Then Starbucks came out, and it was such a great idea: good coffee. And when it became successful there were, like two or three on every block. It’s too much of a good thing. But they read the script, they knew what we were doing, and they were kind of ready to poke a little fun at themselves.”

He added: “I don’t have anything personal against Starbucks. I think they’re trying to do a good thing. They’re just too successful.”

7. Viggo Mortensen’s pain in The Lord of the Rings was real

In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn is seen kicking a helmet as an expression of frustration as he thinks Merry and Pippin have died.

That scene, according to director Peter Jackson, required four initial takes, after which the filmmaker decided to give Mortensen one last try. During that final take – which is included in the movie’s final cut – Mortensen lets out a drawn-out, primal scream after hitting the helmet and falls to his knees.

The reason for this added intensity, it turns out, is due to the fact that Mortensen broke two toes when kicking the helmet – and integrated the pain into his performance as Aragorn.

8. Gene Kelly was sick while filming the iconic scene in Singin’ in the Rain

Should he have been singing in the rain? According to Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene Kelly’s wife from 1990 to his death in 1996, the performer was sick while filming his famous number in Singin’ in the Rain.

“It was all draped in black tarpaulin, so he would come outside of the tarpaulin into the daylight and just lie in the sunlight and just kind of bake this fever out of him, and go back in and start over again,”. “They shot the number in a day and a half.”

9. Jaws wasn’t always going to need a bigger boat 

It’s one of the most iconic lines in the history of cinema, and it wasn’t always meant to be. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” is what Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) says after the menacing white shark is first spotted.

As screenwriter Carl Gottlieb revealed “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” had become a running joke on the film’s set, meant to signal small mishaps. “It became a catchphrase for any time anything went wrong – if lunch was late or the swells were rocking the camera, someone would say, ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat,’” Gottlieb recalled.

Scheider ad-libbed the line at various times in the movie, and this is the one that made it into the final cut.

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas was in production for more than three years

With a running time of 76 minutes, Henry Selick’s 1993 musical dark fantasy film is quite lean by today’s standards, but that doesn’t mean it was quick to produce.

The movie necessitated three-and-a-half years in production, due in large part to the meticulous stop-motion process.

“The stop-motion animation took about 18 months, but with pre-production, where you storyboarded every single shot, it did add up,” Selick tokd the outlet. “At its peak, it was about 120 people working on it, and we had between 12-17 animators on the job. It’s an insane way to make a movie, but a lot of fun. It’s joy, along with a lot of pain.”

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Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman is an established showbiz journalist and freelance copywriter whose work has been published in Business Insider, Daily Mail, Bloomberg, MTV, Buzzfeed and The New York Post amongst other press. Often spotted on the red carpet at celebrity events and film screenings, Mark is a regular guest on BBC Radio London and in-demand for his opinions for media outlets including Newsweek. His TV credits include This Morning, The One Show and T4. Email Mark@MarkMeets.com

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