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Nothing’s better than tuning into a great movie and disconnecting from the real world for a few hours.
But — like the way the magic of Christmas dissipated when you found out Santa wasn’t real — the behind-the-scenes truths about how these iconic films were made can totally change how you view them, so here are 19 of ’em:
The Wizard of Oz (1939) set was a horrendous fever dream. Not only did Cowardly Lion actor Bert Lahr have to wear a sweltering costume made of real lion hair, but the original Tin Man actor, Buddy Ebsen, suffered tremendously after ingesting aluminum from the makeup into his lungs. As his skin turned blue and he struggled to breathe, the callous studio heads replaced Ebsen with Jack Haley.
Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s visuals blew our minds in 2022, but they’re made even more impressive given the newbies behind them. Instead of hiring a fancy postproduction company, the movie’s visual effects were created by a small team of filmmakers who learned the craft from the comfort of their bedrooms. Five people created over 80% of the shots, barely using CGI because they weren’t particularly great at it. The team was led by Zak Stoltz, who had never been an effects supervisor on a feature film.
Watching Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s sex scene in Superbad gets even more awkward when you learn that his mom chaperoned him behind the scenes. Mintz-Plasse was 17 at the time, so he had to wait for her to arrive on set to “fake sexual intercourse in front of her.”
Jim Carrey wasn’t entirely faking his attitude as the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The mounds of makeup and prosthetics made Carrey quite the sour apple on set. Working with him was such a harrowing experience that special effects makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji had to seek therapy.
The most notorious behind-the-scenes Wizard of Oz incident involved Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West. When the effects crew butchered a fire stunt, Hamilton suffered the consequences. Alongside the terrible burn damage to her face, the skin on her hand was also seared, and she later wore green gloves instead of makeup when she resumed filming. It took her six weeks to recover.
Marlon Brando is revered as one of the greatest actors of all time, but his roles take on a new form when you learn he was reading cue cards while the cameras were rolling. Yes, even in films like The Godfather, Brando was reading a perfectly placed printout of his lines during any given scene. If it ain’t broke…
Those prominent, breathtaking shots of cornfields in Interstellar weren’t crafted with CGI. Director Christopher Nolan insisted on having 500 acres of real corn planted for the movie, and the filmmakers even turned a profit by selling the corn they didn’t destroy while filming.
The bees you see in the 1992 horror classic Candyman were all real. Yes, this includes the bees coming out of Tony Todd’s mouth in the movie’s most memorable sequence. A dental dam prevented the insects from sliding down the actor’s throat. He got stung 23 times while filming the disturbing scene but was nicely compensated for his pain. Todd negotiated a bonus of $1,000 for every sting.
It’s hard to look at Drew Barrymore’s iconic Scream opening the same when you know a worried 911 operator was on the receiving end. Her character, Casey Becker, desperately called for help onscreen, but Barrymore accidentally dialed 911 IRL because the film’s prop master forgot to unplug the phone. She called the emergency number repeatedly — screams and all — until the police called back in the middle of a take.
The Host is a certified Bong Joon-ho classic, but the process behind those crazy sewer scenes was even nastier than you’d imagine. The DVD commentary revealed that the entire cast and crew got tetanus shots and filmed in real sewers near Seoul’s Han River. Some scenes required the actors to roll around in raw sewage.
All the lip licking Heath Ledger did as the Joker in The Dark Knight might seem like brilliant characterization, but the behind-the-scenes reason for it is a bit…underwhelming. Make no mistake: His turn as Batman’s number one antagonist deserves all the praise it gets. But his disturbing habit throughout the film was an effort to keep his lip prosthetics in place, as they loosened when he talked.
The epic cinematic massacre in Inglourious Basterds nearly got the cast and crew killed. The fires in the scene were meant to be controlled (for obvious reasons), but actor Eli Roth revealed that the situation became a terrifying safety hazard when the flames grew more than expected. “They said if we were in there another 15 seconds, the stage we were on would have collapsed, and we all would have been killed,” said Roth.
If you thought the punches in Rocky IV felt a little too real, it’s because they were. Sylvester Stallone (who wrote, directed, and starred in the film) told Dolph Lundgren to actually hit him during their fight. One of those hits — a brutal uppercut — put Stallone in the hospital for nine days.
The 1997 Selena biopic took Jennifer Lopez’s career to new heights, but she didn’t actually sing in the movie. The lovely vocals heard throughout the film belonged to the late Selena Quintanilla herself, and Lopez was merely lip-synching.
Michael Myers’s legendary white mask from Halloween is William Shatner’s face. Seriously. The fictional killer wears a modified Captain Kirk mask from Star Trek. Production designer and editor Tommy Lee Wallace found it in a magic shop on Hollywood Boulevard. He enlarged the eyeholes, removed the eyebrows and sideburns, painted the mask white, and darkened the hair to create the horror icon we all know and love.
Pulp Fiction‘s famous burger scene was inspired by Samuel L. Jackson’s audition for the film. He was upset, tired, and utterly insulted when someone from production told him, “I love your work, Mr. Fishburne.” So Jackson entered the audition room with a burger in one hand, a drink in the other, and an intense look in his eyes that scared everyone in the room.
There are Starbucks cups all over Fight Club. Some are hidden and some are a little easier to spot, but according to director David Fincher, they’re tucked into every shot. He claimed that when he moved to LA in 1984, he struggled to find a cup of good coffee. Then Starbucks came along and changed his life.
New York City feels shockingly grimy in Taxi Driver because it was filmed in the summer of 1975, when the city’s economy was in shambles. There was also a sanitation workers’ strike amid a heatwave, meaning that all the garbage and nastiness we see onscreen was 100% authentic.
All those bubbles floating around in The Little Mermaid were drawn by hand. More than a million bubbles were required for the animated classic, and the task was so arduous that Disney had to farm out most of the workload to China-based firm Pacific Rim Productions.
Did you know any of these behind-the-scenes facts before? Did they change your perception of these films? What other interesting behind-the-scenes facts would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!