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13 Naked Truths About The Full Monty

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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

From Gypsy to Showgirls to Magic Mike, the silver screen has seen its fair share of strippers. Then came the guys from The Full Monty. In 1997, Peter Cattaneo's dramedy about a group of unemployed (and mostly out-of-shape) steel workers who decide their best chance at a big pay day is to take it all off for an audience of local ladies became a surprise hit around the world. It was a surprise to the cast and crew, too, who faced a number of hurdles in getting the movie made. On the 20th anniversary of its release, we're taking a look at the naked truth behind the film that brought "The Full Monty" into the general lexicon. 

1. IT GOT OFF TO A ROUGH START.

Though The Full Monty eventually became a massive hit, you wouldn’t have known it from the many roadblocks the film’s producers faced when attempting to get the project off the ground. Channel 4 Films initially showed interest in the film and invested in the script’s development. But once completed, they believed the final draft was too close to Brassed Off, another project they were interested in developing. According to then-chief executive Paul Webster, the company’s executives eventually decided to go with Brassed Off after a “beauty contest” between the two films.

“We felt that the two films served the same community and had the same concerns about unemployment and dignity,” Webster said. From a bottom-line standpoint, The Full Monty—which made about 10 times what Brassed Off did at the box office—clearly would have been the better bet. “You can only hope that you don’t make that mistake again,” Webster said.

2. THE MOVIE’S TITLE CONFUSED HOLLYWOOD EXECUTIVES.

After getting a pass from Channel 4, the film’s makers attempted to pitch The Full Monty to a number of Hollywood studios—many of whom were totally perplexed by the title. Though the movie popularized the phrase around the world, few people knew what it meant before 1997. According to the film’s screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, several American studio executives were confused by the movie’s title and wondered why there was no character named “Monty” in the film.

3. SOME AMERICAN MOVIEGOERS HAD TROUBLE WITH THE BRITISH SLANG, TOO.

Though Beaufoy knew that The Full Monty had universal appeal, he heard from more than one American moviegoer that they couldn’t understand a lot of what was being said. “When we first showed it at the Sundance Film Festival,” Beaufoy told Metro, “there were people coming out going: ‘God, I loved that. I didn’t understand a word they were saying but I loved it!’ We scratched our heads over that but there is something about the characters and the story that is universally understood. It’s about human nature and loss: loss of job, of pride, of dignity. It did fantastically in Brazil.”

Some U.S. theaters reportedly took to distributing pamphlets before the movie that broke down some of the more confusing slang within the film.

4. NICHOLAS LYNDHURST WAS THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY “GAZ.”

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Nicholas Lyndhurst, who is perhaps best known for his work in Going Straight, Only Fools and Horses, and Goodnight Sweetheart, was the first choice for the role of Gaz, which eventually went to Robert Carlyle. For Lyndhurst, passing on The Full Monty was a no-brainer: "I was in rehearsal in Northampton, on a bleak day, and my agent phoned,” Lyndhurst explained. “‘Darling—availability check: British film, not much money, set in Sheffield, about male strippers…’ I said I'd pass. I don't regret it."

5. ROBERT CARLYLE HATED MAKING THE MOVIE.

Eventually, Robert Carlyle—fresh off a starring part in Trainspotting—took on the role of Gaz, though he wasn’t thrilled about it. In the 20 years since the film’s release, Carlyle has shared that he did not enjoy making the film, and was pretty certain that it was going to bomb at the box office.

“I thought it was a load of f***ing pish,” Carlyle told Graham Norton earlier this year. Needless to say, he was shocked when it went on to make more than $250 million worldwide—especially considering that it was shot on a $3.5 million budget.

6. IT ALMOST WENT STRAIGHT TO VIDEO.

With so little confidence in the project coming from various angles, and a first cut that was reportedly pretty unimpressive, 20th Century Fox thought that cutting their losses and releasing the film straight to video might be the best option. “It was a tough shoot,” Carlyle said. “It was so horrible that when the people [at] Fox Searchlight, who'd commissioned it, saw the first cut they said ‘straight to video.'" But thanks to the persistence of producer Uberto Pasolini, who pleaded for the chance to let the team take one more pass at an edit, they were able to recut the film. In 1998, The Full Monty earned four Oscar nominations, including a Best Picture nod for Pasolini. (Anne Dudley took home the Academy Award for Best Music.)

7. THE “HOT STUFF” SCENE WAS ALMOST CUT.

One of the film’s most memorable scenes is when the guys are in line and Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” comes on the radio overhead. Without even thinking about it, they all quietly break into their choreographed moves to the song. According to a variety of sources, this scene came very close to ending up on the cutting room floor for being “too unrealistic."

8. YES, THE ACTORS REALLY DID TAKE IT ALL OFF.

Reluctant to put his cast through the torture of stripping down to nothing for take after take to shoot the film’s climactic striptease scene, Cattaneo promised his actors that it would be a one-take deal—an assurance that was ultimately what persuaded many of them to sign on for the film in the first place. And he delivered.

"We took two days to do the final scene with 50 extras," Cattaneo told the Chicago Tribune. "We rehearsed and rehearsed the last shot, but there was only one take. The cast agreed on that."

9. ALCOHOL PLAYED A ROLE.

In order to help calm pre-stripping nerves on the set, Cattaneo decided that a little liquid courage might help in eliciting the most natural performances from his actors—so he made sure there was plenty of booze lying around. “They were half full of whiskey at that point [of shooting the final scene],” Cattaneo told the Chicago Tribune. “That was the only way to get through it."

10. THE FILM ENDED UP BEING TOO SHORT.

After all the nips and tucks that were made to the earlier versions of the film, by the time the filmmakers had a cut that was working it ended up being too short. So, several months after filming had wrapped, the cast had to reassemble to shoot some additional footage. There was just one problem: Carlyle was already working on another movie and couldn’t make it back for the shoot, which is why you don't see him taking part in the above exercise montage.

11. IT WAS ADAPTED INTO A TONY AWARD-NOMINATED BROADWAY SHOW.

Like so many other successful films, The Full Monty made the jump from screen to stage in 2000. The play, which co-starred Patrick Wilson, opened at New York City’s Eugene O’Neill Theater on October 26, 2000, where it ran for 770 performances. In 2001, it received 10 Tony Award nominations.

12. MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT PRINCESS DIANA’S DEATH CONTRIBUTED TO THE MOVIE’S SUCCESS.

The Full Monty hit UK theaters on August 29, 1997, just two days before Princess Diana’s death. While the nation mourned the untimely passing of The People’s Princess, some box office analysts believed that the need to escape the sadness that engulfed the country actually contributed to the film’s success.

On September 16, The Los Angeles Times reported on the film’s unexpected global success, writing that, “In Britain it has already taken in about $13 million, topping the box office for three straight weeks, including the weekend of Princess Diana's funeral.” When writing about the stage version of the show in 2015, The Reviews Hub wrote that, “When the movie The Full Monty opened in 1997 on the same weekend as the death of Princess Diana, it was suggested that its success was down to the public needing something to cheer them up at such a tragic time.”

In what might be considered a sort of bookend to that belief, director Peter Cattaneo’s newest project—which will debut later this year—is a television movie called Diana and I, which examines the lives of four individuals in the week following the Princess’s death.

13. PRINCE CHARLES WAS A FAN, TOO.

JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images

In November 1998, on the eve of his 50th birthday, Prince Charles attended a Full Monty party where he and Hugo Speer, who starred in the original film, reenacted the "Hot Stuff" dance routine. Onlookers were impressed with the Prince's moves. "I've even been given a bit of choreography on how to do things in the queue," Charles admitted. "I liked the film so much, I've seen it twice."

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The Time Douglas Adams Met Jim Henson
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On September 13, 1983, Jim Henson and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams had dinner for the first time. Henson, who was born on this day in 1936, noted the event in his "Red Book" journal, in characteristic short-form style: "Dinner with Douglas Adams – 1st met." Over the next few years the men discussed how they might work together—they shared interests in technology, entertainment, and education, and ended up collaborating on several projects (including a Labyrinth video game). They also came up with the idea for a "Muppet Institute of Technology" project, a computer literacy TV special that was never produced. Henson historians described the project as follows:

Adams had been working with the Henson team that year on the Muppet Institute of Technology project. Collaborating with Digital Productions (the computer animation people), Chris Cerf, Jon Stone, Joe Bailey, Mark Salzman and Douglas Adams, Jim’s goal was to raise awareness about the potential for personal computer use and dispel fears about their complexity. In a one-hour television special, the familiar Muppets would (according to the pitch material), “spark the public’s interest in computing,” in an entertaining fashion, highlighting all sorts of hardware and software being used in special effects, digital animation, and robotics. Viewers would get a tour of the fictional institute – a series of computer-generated rooms manipulated by the dean, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and stumble on various characters taking advantage of computers’ capabilities. Fozzie, for example, would be hard at work in the “Department of Artificial Stupidity,” proving that computers are only as funny as the bears that program them. Hinting at what would come in The Jim Henson Hour, viewers, “…might even see Jim Henson himself using an input device called a ‘Waldo’ to manipulate a digitally-controlled puppet.”

While the show was never produced, the development process gave Jim and Douglas Adams a chance to get to know each other and explore a shared passion. It seems fitting that when production started on the 2005 film of Adams’s classic Hitchhiker’s Guide, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop would create animatronic creatures like the slovenly Vogons, the Babel Fish, and Marvin the robot, perhaps a relative of the robot designed by Michael Frith for the MIT project.

You can read a bit on the project more from Muppet Wiki, largely based on the same article.

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13 Smart Facts About The Big Bang Theory
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CBS Entertainment

The Big Bang Theory, which has held the title of television's most popular comedy for several years now, and will return for its 11th season on Monday, September 25th. In the meantime, geek out with these facts about the long-running cerebral comedy on the 10th anniversary of its premiere.

1. THE SHOW WASN’T PITCHED IN A TRADITIONAL WAY.

Instead of writing up a premise—which includes outlines of the characters and the long-term vision for the show—and pitching it to CBS, co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady revealed at PaleyFest in 2009 that for their pitch, they wrote a complete script, hired actors, and, as Lorre explained, “put on a show” for CBS president Les Moonves. Lorre found the experience to be “crazy,” but it obviously worked.

2. IT TOOK TWO PILOTS FOR THE SHOW TO GET PICKED UP TO SERIES.

The show filmed two different pilots, because CBS didn't like the first one but felt the show had potential. The first pilot began with a different theme song and featured Sheldon, Leonard, and two female characters, including a different actress playing what would become the Penny role. Chuck Lorre thought the initial pilot “sucked” but is open to having the unaired pilot included as part of a DVD.

3. JIM PARSONS THOUGHT HE WAS AUDITIONING FOR A GAME SHOW.

Amy and Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory.
CBS Entertainment

When Jim Parsons’s agent called and said Chuck Lorre wanted him to audition for a pilot, Parsons misunderstood. “I did not know Chuck Lorre at the time,” Parsons told David Letterman in 2014. “I thought he was talking about Chuck Woolery. I thought, why are they so excited about it? We should see what the man has to offer before we’re like, ‘It’s a new Chuck Woolery pilot!'"

4. ED ROBERTSON OF THE BARENAKED LADIES HESITATED TO WRITE THE THEME SONG.

As the story goes, Lorre and Prady went to a Barenaked Ladies concert and were impressed that lead singer Ed Robertson sang a song on cosmological theory, so they tapped him to write the series' theme song, called “The History of Everything." In 2013, Robertson told CBS News that he’d previously written some songs for TV and films only to have his work rejected, so he was initially reluctant to take on the project.

“I was like, look, how many other people have you asked to write this? I’m at my cottage, I got a couple of weeks off right now and if you’ve asked Counting Crows and Jack Johnson and all these other people to write it, then I kinda don’t want to waste my time on it,” Robertson told them. Lorre and Prady told Robertson he was their only choice, so Robertson agreed to come on board. The first version was 32 seconds long but Robertson had to trim it down to 15 seconds. The original version was also acoustic, which Lorre loved, but Robertson insisted that his bandmates be on the track, and Lorre loved that one even more.

5. SHELDON PROBABLY DOESN’T HAVE ASPERGER’S.

Because of Sheldon’s anti-social nature, viewers have often assumed that Sheldon has Asperger's syndrome. But Prady has stated that, "We write the character as the character. A lot of people see various things in him and make the connections. Our feeling is that Sheldon's mother never got a diagnosis, so we don't have one.”

Parsons himself isn’t totally sure, though. “Asperger’s came up as a question within the first few episodes. I got asked about it by a reporter, and I had heard of it, but I didn’t know what it was, specifically,” he told Adweek in 2014. “So I asked the writers—I said, ‘They’re asking me if Sheldon has Asperger’s’ and they were like, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ And I went back and I said, ‘No.’ And then I read some about it and I went, OK, well, if the writers say he doesn’t, then he doesn’t, but he certainly shares some qualities with those who do. I like the way it’s handled ... This is who this person is; he’s just another human.”

6. KUNAL NAYYAR GOT HIRED BECAUSE HE WAS “CHARMING."

CBS Entertainment

In reminiscing about the early days, Prady explained to Buzzy Mag how Raj came to be: “When we were casting for that part, we were casting for an international member of the ensemble, [because] if you go into the science department at a university, it’s not [just] Americans,” Prady said. “It’s one of the most international kinds of communities. So we saw foreign-born people. And so we saw people who were Korean and Korean-American and Latino. And then Kunal came in and it was like Jim [Parsons]—it was just Person Number Eight on a day of Twenty-Seven people, and he was charming.”

7. AMY FARRAH FOWLER WAS MADE A NEUROSCIENTIST ON PURPOSE.

Mayim Bialik, who in real life has a PhD in neuroscience, told Variety how Amy Farrah Fowler’s profession came to be. “They didn’t have a profession for my character when I came on in the finale of season three,” she says. “In season four, Bill Prady said they’d make her what I am so I could fix things (in the script) if they were wrong. It’s neat to know what things mean. But most of the time, I don’t have to use it.”

8. ASTROPARTICLE PHYSICIST/SCIENCE CONSULTANT DAVID SALTZBERG ONCE GOT A JOKE ON THE AIR.

The Big Bang Theory has had David Saltzberg on retainer since the beginning of the series. Every week he attends the tapings and offers up corrections and ensures the white boards used in the scenes are accurate. During episode nine of the first season, Saltzberg wrote a joke for Sheldon, who has a fight with another scientist. Penny asks Sheldon about the misunderstanding and Sheldon replies, “A little misunderstanding? Galileo and the Pope had a little misunderstanding!”

Even though Saltzberg teaches at UCLA and publishes papers, he thinks his work on The Big Bang Theory is more impactful. “This has a lot more impact than anything I will ever do,” he told NPR. “It’s hard to fathom, when you think about 20 million viewers on the first showing—and that doesn't include other countries and reruns. I’m happy if a paper I write gets read by a dozen people.”

9. WIL WHEATON GOT THE “EVIL WIL WHEATON” GIG THROUGH TWITTER.

Wil Wheaton and Jim Parsons in a scene from The Big Bang Theory.
Sonja Flemming - © 2012 CBS Broadcasting, Inc

Wil Wheaton, who plays a “delightfully evil version” of himself on the show, tweeted about The Big Bang Theory. Wheaton told Larry King, “I was talking on Twitter about how much I loved the show and how I thought it was really funny.” Executive producer Steven Molaro—who will be taking on the same role in the Young Sheldon prequel, which also premieres Monday night—saw the tweet and told Wheaton to let him know if he wanted to come to a taping. A few days later Wheaton received an email from Bill Prady’s assistant about appearing on the show. “I just thought the email was a joke from one of my friends, so I just ignored it,” Wheaton said.

When Wheaton realized that the email was legit he phoned up Prady, who explained they wanted a nemesis for Sheldon. “It’s always more fun to be the villain,” Wheaton said. Even though the character has evolved into Sheldon’s ally, Wheaton said, “I still call him Evil Wil Wheaton.”

10. CHUCK LORRE THOUGHT THE SHOW AIRING AT 8 P.M. WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

The show aired a handful of episodes in the fall of 2007, but a Writers Guild strike halted production until the following year. When the show returned in March, it had an earlier time slot. During a 2009 Comic-Con panel with the show’s cast and producers, the moderator asked Lorre about how CBS once again changed the time slot, this time from Mondays at 8 p.m. to Mondays at 9:30 p.m. “You guys followed us when they put us on at 8 and that is what kept us alive,” Lorre replied. "We did eight shows before the strike took us out in our first season. When the strike was over, CBS put us on at 8 p.m. and we thought that might be the end of it. You followed us and kept us alive and that was when we got the two-year pickup when we did well at 8.” The show eventually returned to the Mondays at 8 p.m. slot.

11. PARSONS ATTRIBUTES THE SHOW'S SUCCESS TO ITS LACK OF CHARACTER ARCS.

In a 2014 interview with New York Magazine, Parsons gave his theory (if you will) on why The Big Bang Theory attracts more than 20 million viewers per week—a number unheard of since the Friends-era sitcom reign. “There’s not anything to keep up with,” he said. “You don’t go, ‘I didn’t see the first three seasons, and now they’re off with prostitutes, and they no longer work in the Mafia, and I don’t understand what happened.’ People have so many choices on TV now, so no one’s asking for you to marry us. You can enjoy our show without a weekly appointment.”

12. A NEW GENUS OF JELLYFISH IS NAMED BAZINGA.

CBS Entertainment

In 2011, a photographer spotted the unnamed grape-sized rhizostome in Australia’s Brunswick River, snapped a photo of it, and sent the photo to marine biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin. In 2013, she named the jellyfish and published a paper on it for the Queensland Museum. In her findings she called it “a new genus and species of the rhizostome jellyfish, which cannot be placed in any known family or suborder.” She told The Huffington Post that it’s the first time in more than 100 years that a new sub-order of jellyfish had been discovered. For now, it’s the only member of the genus Bazinga, the family Bazingidae, and the sub-order Ptychophorae. Sheldon’s catchphrase also inspired the naming of a new bee species in 2013.

13. THE CAST MEMBERS ARE SOME OF THE WORLD’S HIGHEST PAID TV ACTORS.

In August 2017, Variety released a list of television's highest paid actors, and the main cast members of The Big Bang Theory—Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar—came out on top for comedy, earning an average of $900,000 per episode.

BONUS FACT: WE'RE ON THE COFFEE TABLE!

Image credit: Wil Wheaton

In 2010, Wil Wheaton shared this close-up of the coffee table in Sheldon and Leonard's apartment. "I saw a lot of things that could have been on my own coffee table," he wrote, "so I decided to grab a picture."

Here's one from 2014:

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