“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have a fantasy. Everybody must have a fantasy.” —Andy Warhol
Sometimes when you’re watching a movie, you don’t want to see real world struggles or stories—you just want to escape into a world like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Here are 41 facts from some of the best movies that science fiction and fantasy have to offer.
41. Blade Bowie
Director Denis Villeneuve’s first choice for Blade Runner 2049’s villain, Niander Wallace, was David Bowie, but he passed away before the shooting began. Eventually, Jared Leto was chosen for the role.
Eddie Redmayne’s costume for Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them features a dark grey and yellow striped scarf, alluding to the fact that Scamander was a member of Hufflepuff while at Hogwarts.
39. Luke Who?
Rogue One is the eighth Star Wars movie, but there’s one thing that sets it apart: It’s the only one where the name “Skywalker” isn’t mentioned once.
38. Life Imitates Art
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Finn and Rey ask Han Solo if he’s actually THE Han Solo, and he replies “I used to be.” This is allegedly Harrison Ford’s actual response when fans ask him “Are you Harrison Ford?”
37. A Light Breeze
Andy Weir, the author of The Martian, has admitted the storm that leaves Mark Watney stranded on Mars is the biggest scientific inaccuracy in the story. Since Mars’ atmospheric pressure is so low, even a fierce storm like the one shown would do little more than mess up your hair.
36. What’s “I am Groot” in Russian?
Groot, the character voiced by Vin Diesel in Guardians of the Galaxy, only says one thing: “I am Groot.” You’d think that would make Diesel’s job as a voice actor easy, but not only did he have to record many versions of that one line, he also recorded the lines for the Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French versions of the movie.
35. Are You Afraid of a Little Girl?
The first instance of Smaug’s roar in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was actually voiced by the special effects director’s daughter, although it was of course heavily altered.
34. Old Friends
If you look closely at the room of requirement in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Part 2, you can find the enormous knight from the chess game in The Philospher’s Stone, as well as the Cornish Pixies from Chamber of Secrets.
The “Seven Harrys” scene in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 required a lot of acting from of Daniel Radcliffe. He filmed more than ninety takes for just a single shot.
32. Half-Baked Acting
Daniel Radcliffe himself has gone on the record saying that his performance in The Half Blood Prince was his least favourite in the series, saying that it was “hard to watch” and that he was “just not very good in it.”
31. Fun with Phonics
The linguist Dr. Paul Frommer was hired to create a full language for the alien Na’vi in Avatar. The language, also called Na’vi, has over 1,000 words.
30. He’s Being a Real Snape about it
Allegedly, during filming for The Goblet of Fire, actors Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) spilled a milkshake in Alan Rickman’s car. Because of this, when filming The Order of the Phoenix, Rickman banned the two from going within five meters of his new BMW.
29. Smoking Kills
There are many times in Children of Men where Theo, Clive Owen’s character, tries to light up a cigarette, but he never finishes a single one; he is interrupted every time.
28. En Español Por Favor
Studio executives really wanted Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth to be made in English, even offering del Toro double the budget if he were to do so. But del Toro had always envisioned the movie in Spanish, and he never relented, making it with the smaller budget.
27. Not So Serene
In a scene from Serenity, Nathan Fillion is shirtless and four scars can be seen on his body. Each of these scars are from injuries that his character, Malcolm Reynolds, received during the events of Firefly, the TV series that the movie was based on.
26. Friendly Wolves
In the scene where wolves destroy the Beavers’ home in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the production mostly used real animals, with only a few CGI wolves added in. The only problem was that the real wolves’ tails kept wagging, making them appear less frightening. They ended up digitally removing the tails and re-adding them with CGI.
25. Making it Feel Real
In the first two Harry Potter movies, most of Hogwarts appears as a series of unconnected sets. Director Alfonso Cuarón tried to make the castle feel more real in Prisoner of Azkaban by connecting the different areas of the castle to one another. The layout he developed stayed more or less the same through the rest of the series.
24. What’s Better Than Perfect?
At the Academy Awards, a “Perfect Score” refers to winning in every category that you’re nominated for. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has the best perfect score in the history of the award, winning in eleven out of eleven categories.
23. Gollum Juice
Even for Andy Serkis, doing the voice of Gollum isn’t easy. To keep from damaging his vocal chords, he drank what he called “Gollum Juice,” a mixture of honey, lemon and ginger, in order to keep his voice properly lubricated during The Two Towers.
22. Actors Have Ideas Too
Lucius Malfoy has one of the most iconic wands in the Harry Potter film series (it’s hidden in his cane). This wasn’t thought up by J.K. Rowling or even the prop department. Jason Isaacs, the actor who played Malfoy, thought it would be a good idea, and it made it into the movie.
21. Happy Accident
In the opening to The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf hits his head on a beam in Bilbo’s house. This wasn’t in the script—Sir Ian McKellen accidentally hit his head, and Peter Jackson kept the shot in the final cut of the movie.
20. In on It
Alan Rickman was specifically picked by J.K. Rowling to play Professor Severus Snape. So that he could best play the character, she let him in on details about Snape’s backstory that wouldn’t be revealed to the public until the final book was published seven years later.
19. Inspiration Strikes
After Princess Mononoke was released in 1997, the legendary director Hayao Miyazaki thought about retiring. He changed his mind and decided to make Spirited Away after seeing a friend’s grumpy ten-year-old daughter. Miyazaki has since gone in and out of retirement.
18. We’d Have Questions Too
For the first half of The Matrix, Keanu Reeves’ Neo asks about one question every minute.
17. A Sure Thing
Confident that a movie adaptation would be successful, Universal paid Michael Crichton $2 million for the rights to Jurassic Park before the novel had even been published.
16. Too Big for His Britches
While in full RoboCop costume, Peter Weller couldn’t actually fit in his cop car. Most of the shots in the movie show him just about to get into or just getting out of the car because of this. For the shots where you do actually see RoboCop in his car, Weller is only wearing the top half of the suit.
15. Dream Home
Though it’s technically a fortified country house, not a castle, the real estate Haddon Hall was used to film The Princess Bride. It dates back to at least the year 1087, and the tapestries that can be seen inside are all original.
14. You Remind Me of the Babe
It might not seem like it today, but the owl that flies across the screen in the opening titles for Labyrinth was a groundbreaking moment in movies. It was fully computer generated, making it the first time in any movie that someone had tried to create a realistic animal using computer graphics.
13. Out of Sequence
In a stroke of genius, James Cameron filmed the scene where the Colonial Marines first appear in Aliens after the rest of the movie had already been shot. He wanted the camaraderie between the marines to appear real, so he waited until they had known each other for months of filming to do the scene.
David Lynch has had a long and successful career, and the only blemish on his record, according to him, is 1984’s Dune. He’s wary to even talk about the movie today, and he’s refused on multiple occasions to work on a special edition DVD, saying that it would be too painful to revisit.
11. Not as Nice of a Ring to It
The Terminator has one of the most iconic lines in the history of movies, “I’ll be back,” but Arnold almost never said it. In the original script for film, the character was supposed to say “I’ll come back.”
10. Feeling Green
In the book The NeverEnding Story, the character Atreyu has green skin. Filmmakers tried painting actor Noah Hathaway’s skin green for the movie, but it looked too ridiculous and they gave up on the idea.
9. A Big Job
Before CGI, people like George Lucas had to come up with creative practical effects for their movies. For instance, the enormous animatronic suit that was used to portray Jabba the Hut in Return of the Jedi was a physical prop that needed six different people to operate it.
8. Agree to Disagree
There is a lot of debate as to whether or not Rick Deckard is in fact one of the replicants that he himself hunts in Bladerunner. Ridley Scott has said numerous times that Deckard is a replicant, while Harrison Ford has said that he considers the character to be human.
When asked if E.T. was male or female in an interview, Steven Spielberg said neither. He had envisioned the character as being a plant-like organism without any gender.
6. Sans Studio
George Lucas didn’t want to share the creative rights for his Star Wars franchise, so he did The Empire Strikes Back by himself without a studio. That meant using most of the profits from the original Star Wars on top of taking out a large bank loan. The move paid off huge: he had made all of his money back within three months of the movie coming out.
5. Laser Loan
There are blue laser lights in the massive egg chamber on the alien ship from Alien. The filmmakers borrowed these lights from the rock band The Who, who happened to be testing out the lasers for their new tour next door to the movie’s sound stage.
4. Watch Your Language
In early drafts for the original Star Wars, R2-D2 actually spoke English and had a really foul mouth. Eventually, his dialogue was replaced with his trademark boops and beeps, but C-3PO’s reactions to his lines remained. That’s why C-3PO is constantly commenting on R2-D2’s language.
3. The Old Limp and Somersault
After reading the script of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder agreed to take the role of Willy Wonka, but only on the condition that he was allowed to limp slowly towards the camera when introduced and then do a sudden somersault. The director said yes, and it became one of the most iconic scenes from the movie.
2. Two Timing
When Mary Poppins sings along with a robin during “A Spoonful of Sugar,” Julie Andrews not only sang the song herself, she also provided the robin’s whistle.
Margaret Hamilton, a long time fan of the Oz books, was ecstatic when she found out that she was up for a part in The Wizard of Oz. She landed the role as the Wicked Witch of the West, but several of her scenes ended up being shortened or cut entirely. The reason? The filmmakers thought that her performance was too scary for audiences to handle.
That was just the tip of the iceberg. During a scene where Hamilton was supposed to disappear with a puff of smoke, the pyrotechnics exploded before she could descend through a trap door, and she was left with second and third degree burns.
Buddy Ebsen, who was the first actor to play the Tin Man, suffered a severe allergic reaction to his makeup, and aluminum powder got into his lungs, which made him unable to breathe. Ebsen ended up in hospital fighting for his life, and it would take several years before he was well enough to return to acting.
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