13 Naked Truths About The Full Monty

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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.”


Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

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."

15 Facts About Rushmore On Its 20th Anniversary

The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection

On December 11, 1998, Wes Anderson introduced the world to his unique brand of whimsical comedy with Rushmore. Though it wasn't his feature directorial debut—he had released Bottle Rocket, which he adapted from a short, in 1996—it was his first major Hollywood movie. And kicked off his still-ongoing collaborations with a stable of talented actors that includes Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. It was also the second film Anderson co-wrote with Owen Wilson.

To celebrate the quirky comedy's 20th anniversary, here are some things you might not know about Rushmore.

1. Rushmore Academy was the director's Alma Mater.

Wes Anderson sent location scouts across the United States and Canada to find the perfect high school to shoot the movie. He was having a tough time trying to find the school, until his mother sent him a picture of his old high school in Houston, Texas: St. John's School. Anderson thought it was the perfect location to make the movie.

2. Bill Murray wanted to make Rushmore for free.

Bill Murray in Rushmore (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Once Bill Murray read the screenplay, he wanted to be in the movie so badly that he considered appearing in it for free. Murray ended up working on Rushmore at scale with the Screen Actors Guild day rate minimum for smaller indie film projects. Anderson estimated that Murray made about $9000 for his work on the film.

3. Film critic Pauline Kael had a private screening.

Pauline Kael’s film criticism was a major influence on Anderson’s view of cinema. “Your thoughts and writing about the movies [have] been a very important source of inspiration for me and my movies, and I hope you don't regret that," he once wrote to her.

Kael retired from The New Yorker in 1991, so Anderson arranged for her to have a private screening of Rushmore before the film came out in 1998. He wrote about the screening in the introduction to the published version of the screenplay, and shared what Kael told him about the film: "I genuinely don't know what to make of this movie."

4. It was Jason Schwartzman’s first film role.

Casting directors searched throughout the United States, Canada, and England to find a young actor to play the lead role of Max Fischer. Australian actor Noah Taylor was the frontrunner for the part when, on the last day of casting in Los Angeles, Jason Schwartzman auditioned. He was wearing a prep school blazer with a Rushmore Academy patch that he made himself.

5. Owen Wilson's private school experiences inspired some of the movie's plot points.

As a sophomore at St. Mark High School in Dallas, Texas, Rushmore co-writer Owen Wilson was expelled for stealing his geometry teacher's textbook (the one that contained all the answers); he went to Thomas Jefferson High School to complete 10th grade. This was the inspiration for when Max is expelled from Rushmore Academy and is forced to attend Grover Cleveland High School.

Although Wilson doesn’t have a credited role in Rushmore, he does appear as Ms. Cross’s deceased husband, Edward Appleby, in a photo in Appleby’s childhood bedroom.

6. Wilson's Dad Inspired a Moment in the Movie.

Wilson’s father, Robert Wilson, was the inspiration for Herman Blume’s speech about privilege at the beginning of Rushmore.

7. Alexis Bledel was an extra in the film.


Getty Images

Before she starred as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, actress Alexis Bledel was an uncredited extra—she played a Grover Cleveland High School student—in Rushmore. You can see her in the background in various scenes, including dancing with the character Magnus Buchan (Stephen McCole) at the end of the film.

8. Both Anderson and Wilson's brothers had parts in the movie.

Owen and Luke Wilson’s older brother Andrew plays Rushmore Academy’s baseball coach, Coach Beck. He also appeared in Anderson’s directorial debut, Bottle Rocket, playing the bully John Mapplethorpe.

Eric Chase Anderson, Wes's brother, plays the architect who designs Max’s aquarium.

9. The Movie's Editor Made a Cameo.

Rushmore editor David Moritz plays the Dynamite Salesman; he sells Max the dynamite and explosives for his stage play Heaven and Hell at the end of the film.

10. Producers Made a Deal to get a Bentley.

Producers needed a Bentley for Murray's character, Herman Blume, but Rushmore’s production budget was only $20 million and they couldn’t afford to rent one. A Houston resident was willing to lend them his Bentley if they gave his daughter a role in the film. Producers agreed; the man's daughter plays an usher who seats Miss Cross at Max’s play at the end of the movie.

11. Mason Gamble's role in Dennis the Menace almost cost him the part of Dirk Calloway in Rushmore.

Mason Gamble in Rushmore (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Wilson referred to the character of Dirk Calloway, played by Mason Gamble, as the conscience of the film. Originally, Anderson didn’t want to cast Gamble in the part because of the actor’s previous—and very recognizable—role as Dennis Mitchell in the 1993 live-action movie Dennis the Menace.

12. Rushmore Upset Francis Ford Coppola.

Director Francis Ford Coppola owns a winery, and when he first saw Rushmore, he was upset with Anderson because he used Coppola’s chief Napa Valley wine rival during Max's post-play celebration. (It probably didn't help matters that Coppola is Schwartzman's uncle.)

13. Anderson's Brother Did the Movie's Criterion Collection Artwork.

The Criterion Collection edition of 'Rushmore' (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Eric Chase Anderson did the artwork for the Criterion Collection DVD cover, an interoperation of a shot from the montage of Max’s extracurricular activities at the beginning of the movie. The Yankee Racer shot is itself a recreation of a photo from French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue, taken in 1909 when he was only 15.

14. Schwartzman waxed his chest to play Max.

Although Max only shows his chest once in the film (during the high school wrestling match), Anderson made Schwartzman wax his chest for the duration of Rushmore's filming.

15. The Max Fischer Players Appeared on MTV.

During the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, the Max Fischer Players recreated the year's hit movies—The Truman Show, Armageddon, and Out of Sight—as stage plays.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2014.

Harry Potter Star Daniel Radcliffe Says Broadway Made Him a Better Actor

Dominik Bindl, Getty Images
Dominik Bindl, Getty Images

For 10 years, moviegoers watched as Daniel Radcliffe matured on film throughout eight Harry Potter films. But the 29-year-old recently revealed that he believes the bulk of his professional growth has occurred as a result of his Broadway stage work.

“It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe told Variety. “I feel like doing theater ... it was really very important for me psychologically.”

Radcliffe starred in a number of films after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final film in the franchise, including The Woman in Black, Now You See Me 2, and Lost in London. His Broadway credits include Equus, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The Cripple of Inishmaan.

“There’s something about doing it without an editor to save you, or a myriad of things in post-production that can help you out, something that made me go: ‘OK, I can act,’" Radcliffe continued. "I’ve grown a little bit as an actor every time I’ve gone back to the theater."

Radcliffe crediting his professional growth to working in theater may leave some Potterheads wondering if he thinks playing Harry Potter for so long held him back.

“Not professionally, at all,” he said. “There were moments when probably I coped with the personal effects of Harry Potter not as well as I could have. But professionally, no.”

According to Radcliffe, "There are directors that were, I think, excited to—I am quoting one of them here and I won’t say who—'reinvent' me.”

Radcliffe fans can gauge that reinvention for themselves with The Lifespan of a Fact, the new Broadway play starring Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale, and Cherry Jones. It is running at New York City's Studio 54 through January 13, 2019.

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