Bates Motel Recap, Episode 9: "Underwater"


There's just one more episode left of the season, and I have a feeling that White Pine Bay is getting ready to show us its worst - though this week is no cakewalk. Except for Emma.

Corpses and Chronic

Zack Shelby’s corpse is being removed from the Bates House. Again.

“The smell is never gonna leave my brain,” Norma mutters, then IDs Jake Abernathy when Romero asks if she knows who might have left her such an unpleasant surprise.

“Why do crazy people keep gravitating towards me?” she asks, followed by an awkward silence. Not even Norman is going to touch that one.

The next morning, Norman and Dylan are hauling the mattress out to the dumpster. Dylan thinks it’s a waste of money—after all, hospitals don’t dump mattresses every time someone dies on one. He’s grousing about how Norma is going to milk this for the next year when Norma reveals that she's right behind them. She smells something, but it’s not the Shelby juice soaking the mattress: The trimmers are smoking pot on the porch.


She stomps self-righteously over to the gang, who look like they could be extras from Dazed and Confused, and demands that they extinguish their wacky tobacky.

“You’re kidding, right?” the stoners are aghast. “You know where you live, right? What the local economy is? No one cares.”

Wrong. Norma cares. “No one prepared me for the colossal frickin’ facedive off a cliff that living in this crazy-ass town really is,” she says. “However, what happens on my property is still under my control, and it does not include people in torn jeans with tie-dyed clothing and dirty hair hanging out on my new furniture smoking a doobie. So take that as the law around here, because there doesn’t seem to be much of one otherwise.”

“OK, just chill,” lead hippie “Ra’uf” tells her. Yes, that’s his name.

“Chill your own ass,” she responds, exactly the way your mom would have said it.

Then she turns her attention to Dylan. She wants to know exactly what these wayward group of souls is doing for employment with his company.

“Processing stuff,” Dylan says, lamely.

“What stuff?"


Norma puts two and two together. “I hate this place. I hate it,” she whines. “We’re moving.”



A hand with black-polished nails is draped over the edge of a claw-foot tub. It’s Bradley, fully submerged in bathwater except her face. She’s wearing what looks to be a prom dress. She opens her eyes just in time to see Norman as he shoves her head under. She struggles and manages to come up for one last breath, but it doesn’t look good—and then Norman wakes up.

While Norman is just coming around, Emma has been up for awhile. She's at the motel bright and early before school to work on organizing files. Seriously? High school kids don’t wake up any earlier than absolutely necessary, do they?

Norma instructs her to trash everything that isn’t strictly related to the business. She also warns Emma that a group of nogoodniks have been smoking pot at the motel, and if she sees it happening, she has instructions to “Go out there and bust it up immediately."

“Bust it up?” Emma kind of chuckles, then realizes that it wasn't a joke. Norma is about to leave Emma to her strange early-hour organizing party when a man bearing a large bouquet of flowers shows up on the porch. She's delighted—until she checks out the attached florist’s card, which reads “See you soon...”

Norma isn't one to mess with ominous ellipsis, so she calls Sheriff Romero and leaves a message. “Tell him that someone sent flowers to me. The card says ‘See you soon.’” The dubious secretary promises to relay the information.

Now, off to those errands—namely, terrorizing her realtor.

“The motel business sucks, Matt,” she starts off, then lays into him about not telling her about the motel-obliterating bypass when she bought the property. He claims that nothing about the bypass was set in stone when she purchased.

“It was proposed!” Norma insists.

“Lots of things are proposed,” Matt says condescendingly, which is when Norma threatens to sue. She wants her money back, and she wants him to list the motel immediately. But no sign out front. “I still need to earn a living until it gets sold,” she says.

Back at her worthless motel, Norma is cleaning when she sees a black car—likely Abernathy—cruise by slowly outside. She goes back inside and Googles—excuse me, “Wikifinds”—“the safest cities in America. According to Wikifinders, the top cities include Brick Township, New Jersey; Kapolei, Hawaii; and Mission Viejo, California. (That’s not what Forbes magazine says.) 

The door opens and shuts. It’s just Norman, but she tells him to lock and bolt the front door.

“Welcome to my world, Juno,” he mutters to the stuffed pet under his arm.

Norma spots the strange new addition to the family and stops talking mid-sentence.

“How do you like her, mom?” Norman asks. To her credit, Norma tries her best to be supportive.

“Well, let’s see. Yeah! Yeah, look at that.”

“I had a really good day at school,” he reports, as though he’s a first grader. He tells her about the 4.0. “I really like this school, mom,” he says, subtly trying to convince her that he doesn’t want to move. Norma knows what he’s doing, though, and stops him in his tracks.

“It’s you getting the grades,” she says. “Not the school.”

Norman takes Juno into his room and pulls up the Interwebs to check out his drowning dream on “Dream Daemon.” As Dylan passes Norman’s doorway, he also spies Juno. She’s quite the conversation piece!

“What the hell is that?” Dylan wants to know. “That’s just weird, dude.” Then his eye falls on the computer and he sees what Norman is researching.

“It says here that drowning in a dream can mean you’re feeling overwhelmed in your life. That makes sense," Norman tells his brother.

“Yeah,” Dylan says, dismissively. “Just curious. Who were you drowning in the dream?”

After Norman confesses that he was dreaming about holding Bradley underwater, Dylan looks concerned. “You wouldn’t actually want to hurt anybody though, would you?”

“Of course I wouldn’t want to. I’ve never wanted to hurt anyone. Except you once in awhile.”

They both chuckle. It’s briefly cute, but it’s obvious that Dylan’s not totally buying that statement.

Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Downtown, Bradley spots Dylan and walks over to ask if Dylan can get her into her dad’s office to collect his things. He agrees, because why wouldn’t risk your own neck for a girl that you barely know? They give each other googly eyes.

“Well, I gotta go play high school now...” she smiles. More googly eyes.


Later, over at the weed warehouse, Dylan runs into Gil and takes the opportunity to feel him out about Mr. Martin's office.

“I haven’t promoted you fast enough? You want an office now, too?” Gil tries to sound jokey, but he’s anything but. “I’m not feeling too friendly toward Jerry Martin. His little shenanigans cost me over $100 grand in that warehouse fire. He’s lucky I didn’t get his family to cover my losses,” he sneers. “You want his office? Take it.”

Dylan and Bradley organize a restaurant rendezvous to discuss how they're going to get into the warehouse. Based on Gil’s vitriolic reaction to the mere mention of Jerry Martin, Dylan wants to load up her dad's personal belongings by himself, then deliver them to her. Bradley agrees, but she seems disappointed.

“I just really want to see my dad’s office again. The way he set it up. The way he left everything,” she tells him. Her mom is so freaked out by his violent death that she got rid of all of his things, so Bradley has nothing left of her dad. She was hoping that by visiting his office, she would feel like she was with him again.

The speech moves Dylan, and he agrees.

“You sure?” Bradley asks.

“No. But I’m gonna do it anyways.”

Man on Fire

At school, Miss Watson is effusing over an incredible short story Norman wrote about a man who’s literally burning up on the inside. She wants to help him get it published, promising to help him edit it if he stops by after school. Also, she’s been reviewing his quarter grades, and they’re straight A’s. “I think this school’s gonna be good for you,” she smiles.

When Norman does come by the next day, Miss Watson starts waxing poetic about how he understands things beyond his years, “things about how hard life can be, about how we’re not really meant to be happy.” It’s a little odd—I feel like maybe we'll hear more about her personal life in the seasons to come. She snaps out of her lament and tells Norman to check with his mom to make sure she’s okay with it being published, since he’s still a minor.

Let it Slide

The hippies are singing the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Slide” on the motel porch. I’m suddenly transported back to my junior year of high school and a mixtape I made for an ex-boyfriend. I have a feeling that Carlton Cuse and crew are focusing on different lyrics than I was, though. “We’re gonna let it slide,” lead hippie sings, and that’s exactly what Officer Romero is about to do.

He walks up to the motel, presumably to follow up on the Flowers of Doom, and the trimmers freeze. When Romero asks where they’re working, the guitar player says they’re out at Gil’s dry dock.“You want some veggies?” he asks the sheriff. Norma is peering out between the blinds, hoping that Romero is going to bust them. He is not.

“No, I’m good. Thanks.” He almost cracks a smile, then heads inside to chat with Norma. It's not good news: he has no leads, because Jake Abernathy doesn’t exist. All of the information he gave when he registered was completely fake. Romero asks to dust room number nine for fingerprints, but Norma’s already cleaned it, and now there are a bunch of stoners in there.

“God knows what they tracked in with them," she moans.

“It’s sort funny how you went into the service industry,” Romero says, wryly. “You’re don’t seem very keen on serving anybody.”

“I’m as keen as I need to be,” she responds, and asks what he intends to do about Abernathy.

The answer? Nothing. He has no leads, no evidence, no license plate, no locations he might be going. To appease her, Romero says he’ll have her house patrolled on the half hour.

“Let me know if anything else happens,” he says, and walks out the door.

After a moment, Norma thinks of a good retort (isn’t that always the way?) and flings the door open to yell after him, “Oh, like what? Like he digs up a couple of more dead people and puts them in my bed?”

“Yeah, like that,” Romero deadpans. “Goodnight, Norma.”

The stoners are baffled.

This is Emma on Drugs. Any Questions?

Earier in the day, Emma caught one of the trimmers smoking weed on the porch. When she goes to "bust it up immediately," he asks if she wants some.

“No, I don’t want some," she says. "Do you want me to blow up?”

“You won’t blow up," he assures her. "I’ve seen smokers with O2 tanks in Vegas. You know, playing the slot machines...” He chivalrously offers Emma some “killer” weed cupcakes instead. She declines and asks him to put the joint out so she won’t get fired. He obliges, then watches her walk into the office, intrigued.

The cupcake magically appears on the reception desk later. There’s a card attached that says “Emma - Hope I didn’t get you in trouble. Gunner.” He's signed it with a peace sign, obviously. After she answers a wrong number phone call from someone looking for “Dave," she decides to give the laced cake a go. And man, does she dig in with gusto.

Upstairs, Norman is at his laptop, presumably working on his story about the man living in a constant state of internal combustion. Norma enters and announces that she’s found them a beautiful little cottage in Oahu.

“I won’t do it,” Norman tells her. “This is just another of your stupid ‘starting over’ ideas and I’ve been through enough of them. I like it here.”

Norma, unfazed, insists that they will be able get jobs in the hotel industry now that they have experience.

“We’ve been open for three days,” he hisses.

“They don’t have to know that,” she shrugs.

“No matter where we go, things will always be the same. Because you do things that don’t make sense. YOU. You’re crazy!” he yells. After a brief pause, he apologizes. “I’m sorry mother. I didn’t mean that.”

Comic relief! Emma appears out of nowhere and reports that there may be video monitoring equipment in the office. She felt like she was being watched, which made her nervous, so she came up to see Norma(n).


“Have you ever thought about how long those stairs are? I just kept climbing, and climbing...” she says in a dreamy tone of voice.

“Oh my God. Are you high?” Norma asks.

Emma is still carrying on about the stairs. “Like it was an escalator. That you climb. One more step just kept coming out of nowhere like I was in space or something...”

She then confirms that she got baked on baked goods.
“I heard it’s fun, but I’m not having any fun yet. When does the fun start?”

To help counter Emma’s bad reaction, Norma tells Norman to get her some toast and juice. Will that really stop a bad high? Norman doesn’t seem overly concerned about Emma’s condition, high or otherwise. What he is concerned about, however, is about apologizing for his little outburst. “Mom. I’m sorry. I don’t think you’re crazy.”

“Get the toast,” Norma snaps.

Inappropriate Relationships x2

Dylan and Bradley have just jumped down from the rafters into Gil’s warehouse when someone starts shooting at them. Lucky for Dylan, it’s just Remo—but he isn’t impressed that Dylan has a stowaway. He’s even less pleased when he realizes who the girl is.


“You got any idea what kind of a position you put me in, bringing her down here?” he asks Dylan. Dylan promises that they’ll be no more than 10 minutes; Remo reluctantly gives them the go-ahead.

Bradley immediately tears up when she sees her dad’s office.

“Everything’s just how he left it,” she says. Dylan asks if she wants a minute.

“No. I like having you here,” she says. She searches desk drawers for a meaningful gold pocketwatch, but finds a stash of love letters instead. I caught a glimpse of the line, “My one and only Master”—was Bradley’s dad in on the sex slave trade, or is he just a bit 50 Shades?

The letters are signed “All my love, B,”—and “B” isn’t Bradley’s mother. Bradley drops the letters and runs out of the warehouse.

Dylan picks up the letters and I think he takes them, then runs out after Bradley.

“People are complicated,” he tells her. “He’s still your dad. He still loved you. I know that he had to love you, because who wouldn’t?” Oh, what a line. She thinks so, too, and they hold each other tight.

At home, Norman’s holding someone too. Norma came in and asked if she could sleep with him, because she’s understandably still freaked out by rotting body in her bed and her weirdo sex slave ringmaster stalker.


Norman agreed and offered to sleep on the floor so she could have his bed, but Norma wouldn’t have it. And that’s why they’re now cuddled up close in his tiny twin-size bed. After reminiscing about the sleepovers they used to have in her room when Norman was just a tot, Norma puts an arm over his chest. She apologizes about her latest moving kick. “It’s alright mother," he assures her. "I’m sorry I said you were crazy. You’re not crazy.”

She kisses him and snuggles into his neck. It’s ... not normal.

Norma's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


Back at school, Norman has changed his mind about having his story published. He doesn’t think his mom would approve. There's no point in even asking, he says. “She wouldn’t get it.” A beat later, Miss Watson wants to know how the therapy is going.

“I went once,” Norman shrugs.
Miss Watson sighs, then suggests that perhaps Norman doesn't really need to tell his mother about publishing the story.

“That doesn’t seem right,” he says.

Miss Watson gets weirdly close—personal space, lady—and says that she’s had a lot of troubles in her own life, so she can see when things aren’t fair. “What I’m saying is that, what is the likelihood she’ll ever know?”

Real estate agent’s office. Our pal Matt sees Norma coming and tries his best to avoid her, but it’s too late. She wants an update on the open house, which is when he lays it all out for her.

“There’s not gonna be an open house. I looked into it, and there’s no market for your property, not with the new bypass road going in. I can’t get you your money back.” In fact, he’s not even sure he can get half of her money back. He advises her that it’s probably just best to walk away.

“Are you kidding me? I will sue you!” she yells at him.

“Uhh, you can,” Matt smirks. “But I’m 30,000 in debt, I live with my girlfriend, and my mom owns my car, so...” Norma shows him the business end of her purse, smacking him with the full force of it. Repeatedly.

Then she goes outside and gets in her car, where she has a ticket. Could this day get any worse? Oh yeah, it could: “Jake Abernathy” is in the back seat, and he’s got a gun to her head.


Turns out that he’s been searching for $150,000, the cash Shelby owed him from the last batch of girls. It’s gone missing, and none of their mutual contacts has it. That leaves one person: Norma. He wants her to bring him the money tomorrow night at midnight. (A flair for the dramatic, I think.)

Norma agrees—and maybe she’s just playing along, but she seems genuine. Did she really take the money? Whether she did or didn’t, she’d better show up with the payout, because Abernathy isn't playing.

“I know where you live,” he tells her. “If I have to go to your house, I’ll kill your sons first. And then I’ll kill you. Goodnight.”

I do so prefer that my murderous blackmailing sex traffickers are polite, don’t you?

job secrets
14 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Hollywood Food Stylists

Hollywood food stylists are little short of magicians—only instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, they’re turning piles of mashed potatoes into ice cream sundaes. Indeed, making food (or food-like products) appear photogenic and appetizing onscreen is a job for a true illusionist. Mental Floss spoke to a few food stylists working in TV, film, and commercials—from Game of Thrones to Taco Bell—to bring you the tricks of their magical trade.


While food stylists are well-versed in the old-school swap tricks—using a pint of white glue to impersonate a glass of milk, for example—those are being phased out. Now, directors want actors to interact with their food, and high-definition camera lenses have made the fake stuff much more obvious. Plastic food props only appear in the background of scenes today, where they're less visible and susceptible to scrutiny.

“I only deal with real food,” says Chris Oliver, who has styled food for movies including Gone Girl (2014) and TV shows such as Seinfeld and Big Little Lies. “You also have to think about how a character would cook something or put a plate together. Realistic food is not all beautiful and perfect. I make ugly food and burnt food, too.”

There’s a trend in commercial food styling to present dishes that are less-than-perfect, too. Shellie Anderson, who styles food ads for clients including Burger King and Ragù, says it’s the consumers who are demanding food look more realistic and therefore more approachable.

“People are tired of seeing something in a TV commercial and then ordering it in a restaurant and it doesn't look the same,” she says. “You don’t want it to look staged anymore. You want a burger to look like the cheese naturally dripped off and landed on the plate.”


Bowl of strawberry ice cream

If a food stylist needs one sprig of parsley for a shoot, they’ll often order 10 bunches. They never know what the condition of the parsley is going to be when it arrives from the produce vendor, or if the shoot is going to require more than they originally planned for. Carving a turkey in a scene? That may require two dozen birds if an actor keeps flubbing his line.

“It really depends on how much of a story point the food is and how important the scene is for the director,” Oliver says.

Food stylists usually have relationships with produce vendors, who can look for products with the specific size, shape, and color that stylists need. No bruises or dents, and no frozen lettuce! But stylists can hide those things if they have to.

Ice cream is infamously hard to keep intact because it melts so quickly. Food stylists have been known to replace the scoops with dollops of meringue, which don’t melt, or butter rolled in sugar. Oliver makes her sundaes the day before and sticks them in the freezer, spoons and straws and all. If they freeze rock hard overnight, they can last a few hours on set the next day before being replaced with another sundae lined up in the deep-freeze. Anderson sprays her ice cream with cold spray, an aerosol can of super-chilled gas used for cooling electronics.


On film and TV shoots, there are rarely leftovers. In fact, good food stylists often compete with the caterers: Actors usually have to eat the food during their scenes, and the crew finishes off the scraps. While shooting a Chinese New Year scene for the show Fresh Off the Boat recently, actress Lucille Soong told Oliver, who was styling that episode, that she was going to skip lunch because she wanted to enjoy eating her food on camera. “That was pretty freaking flattering!” Oliver says.

Because Oliver works on multiple TV shows in a single day, if an item doesn’t get used on set and never comes out of her cooler, she can just take it back to her shop and recycle it for use on another show. If something can’t be used again, she’ll take it home and make salsa or jam. “When it gets really old, I'll just stick it in vodka,” she says.

Commercial shoots tend to have more unused food. Anderson says anything that’s still edible will be given to a food pantry. “I once donated an entire swordfish when we did a commercial for a fish restaurant,” she says. “We never even used it. So I kept it on ice and took it to a men's homeless shelter. They were thrilled to have it.”


Another reason food stylists swap out on-camera food so much is because of safety concerns—hot and cold foods need to be kept at certain temperatures that may not be practical on-set. Sushi-grade tuna may be replaced with watermelon, for example, because the fish spoils so easily.

Oliver requires all of her employees to have a food handler’s license. She also only works out of commercial kitchens (including the one on her fully-equipped food styling truck). But not every food styling team does; some prepare food in their homes. “The reason that I get so much work is that everybody knows I'm a chef and I have a real kitchen,” Oliver says. “People trust my food. I’ve done a bunch of movies with Reese [Witherspoon] because she knows that if I’m on set, the food is safe to eat.”


woman styling food

While there are a few well-known male food stylists, for the most part the key food stylists in the U.S. are women. (Both of Anderson’s daughters are food stylists, too.) The reason for this dates back decades.

Before food styling became its own career in the 1990s, it was up to network employees with home economics degrees (almost always women) to cook on-camera food. Then props departments became responsible. “But props guys can’t even make spaghetti,” Oliver says, laughing. So according to her, these guys would go home and ask their girlfriends or wives to make whatever food was required for the next day’s scene. “Eventually they would just hire their girlfriends or wives to do it; keep the money in the family,” she says. “I know five food stylists who at one time were in relationships with prop masters.”

Also in the 1990s, networks began making more multi-camera TV shows. A lot more food began appearing on screen, and actors openly discussed their dietary restrictions. They were vegan, sugar-free, and low-carb all of a sudden. Oliver trained at the Culinary Institute of America and had worked in restaurants and catering jobs before stumbling into this career. “Because I was a chef, and I understood how food works, I knew how to feed people and make food last on set,” she says. “And I could charge anything I wanted to.”

To get a job as a food stylist today, it helps to know someone already in the industry and have a culinary background. Everyone starts as an intern, and then may be able to work their way up to being an assistant and then a stylist. “Not everybody can be a food stylist,” Anderson says. “You have to be able to cook, but you still have to be creative. And you have to be able to work fast and under pressure.”


Now that movies and TV shows are frequently filmed all over the world, instead of just on sets in Los Angeles, food stylists can be based anywhere. There is a concentration of stylists who live in Vancouver, British Columbia, for example, because that's where many shows are now filmed. Labor laws also often require production crews to hire locally, so residing outside of L.A. can be a real advantage.

Some commercial food stylists, like Anderson, are flown in for shoots. “Food stylists can make or break a commercial,” she says. “And if you have trouble and you don't know what you're doing, it can be a real problem for production.” This is especially true on out-of-the-country shoots, when stylists don't have the resources that they’re used to. So clients who know her and her skill level, such as Taco Bell, will fly her to wherever they're filming.


hand styling pancakes

Food stylists use a mix of back-of-the-house kitchen lingo and film jargon. Some examples: The “hero” is the food that is written into the script, is being shot, and must appear in front of the actor. “Bite and smile” is when an actor takes a bite of food and pretends to like it. “All day” is the total number of items needed; if they needed five turkeys on a set, they would say “five all day.”


Food stylists usually specialize in different media: film, TV, commercials, or print editorial. Stylists often prefer one over the other. Print editorial is shot in a controlled studio and tends to have more leeway for creativity. Commercials are tied to a brand’s specifications. Film and TV shoots on location are in unpredictable settings and can be physically demanding. But everyone tends to work long, 12- to 14-hour days. For commercials, it can often take three days to shoot one 30-second spot.

When working on a movie or TV show, the actors’ demands usually take precedence over the food needs. After working on one film, Anderson had had enough and dedicated herself to commercial work. “When I do commercials, the food is the star,” she says. “So [the directors] want to make sure I have everything I need. On a movie, they could care less about you.”


Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter on Hannibal

Sometimes food stylists are expected to create sci-fi props—what would a person eat in the year 3000?—or fantasy items that they have no experience with. While working on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Oliver made gooey, edible slime from her imagination. “I also had to roll with the [actors’] different dietary needs,” she says. “I had to be able to make vegan slime, sugar-free slime, gluten-free slime, gelatin-free slime … Slime, any way you want it.”

Oliver also has to make items that you don’t really want to put in your mouth. While filming the TV show Big Little Lies, she made green-colored vomit for actress Reese Witherspoon of cucumbers and parsley. She says it was tasty, like green gazpacho. For a war film, she had to make 400 pounds of “dirt” for a group of prisoners of war to eat. She got Pakistani soil shipped to California so she could match it exactly. (Her recipe: ground-up Oreos and graham crackers, mixed with brown sugar and white sugar.)

Janice Poon, the food stylist behind the cannibal-centric TV show Hannibal, had a more challenging obstacle: how to make dishes that resembled human flesh. She refused to do research on cannibalism websites, she told, but she studied a lot of anatomy books. “I’m just like Dr. Frankenstein,” Poon said. “I’m always stitching things, exchanging, putting one kind of meat on a different bone, patching stuff together. ... The key is to let the viewer’s imagination do more of your work.” She transformed veal shanks into human legs, and used prosciutto slices to mimic slivers of a human arm.


When shooting, stylists need to be prepared for anything. They carry tools including tweezers, scissors, paint brushes, knives, offset spatulas, wet wipes, syringes, rulers, Q-tips, and spritz bottles.

“Think about your kitchen: all of your mixing bowls and utensils … I have that times 10 in my kit,” Anderson says. She also has a torch on hand for quick-cooking burgers and cold spray for extending the life of ice cream. Other stylists may have glycerin for adding shine or Kitchen Bouquet sauce for adding color. Poon often uses a white ceramic knife so she can see what she's doing on dark sets and work more quietly, so as not to disturb the acting process.

Food stylists sometimes work in erratic environments. Oliver brings her own 17-foot, cab-over truck to shoots. “It has a lift gate and everything's on wheels, so I can take everything out and have a kitchen in the middle of the desert, if I want,” she says. Inside, she has a full commercial kitchen: a six-burner stove, refrigerator, microwave, grill, freezer, prep tables, storage, TV, and a generator.


When production starts, the prop team sends memos to actors or their reps asking about food allergies and dietary restrictions. As trained chefs, most food stylists are happy to accommodate such limitations, cooking convincing swap-outs. “I find out what they will eat and make it happen,” Oliver says.

For example, Poon once made a convincing vegan “raw meat” on Hannibal using only grains. “I made lamb tongues out of bulgur and water,” Poon told “It’s like making a Lebanese kibbeh. You mix cracked wheat with water and it makes a kind of mush that holds together. The texture is a little 'nubbly,' so I added a pink food coloring, made little tongues out of kibbeh dough, steamed them up, and they were my little lambs’ tongues.”

Sometimes a director changes his or her mind at the last minute, and what was supposed to be a spaghetti dinner, for example, is now a breakfast spread. So the food stylist will squish down the meatballs and turn them into sausage patties. In an interview with NPR, food stylist Melissa McSorley recalled a time when a movie director suddenly decided to cut open a birthday cake she had made. The problem: It wasn’t real.

“So we had to cut the cake that was made out of Styrofoam, and I had to use a saw in order to do it because none of my knives could get through it,” McSorley said. “And then we had to layer in cake so it did look like it was real and then we had to send people scurrying to many markets to find white layer cake so it looked like people in the background could be actually be eating the cake.”


Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, David Bradley in Game of Thrones

Professional actors will often pick at the food in front of them, but not eat it because they know their scenes are going to require a lot of takes; they could be eating birthday cake for eight hours straight. Others dive right in. For a scene in The Guilt Trip (2012), actress Barbra Streisand had to pretend she was in a steak-eating contest. Oliver says they went through more than 300 pounds of meat for that scene’s three-day shoot and Streisand was totally game.

“But there’s a part towards the end where she has to eat really quickly and do a line without, you know, choking and dying,” Oliver says. “So I switched out the steak with seared watermelon. She took one bite and it sort of dissolved in her mouth, so she could do her line. If you watch it, and you really listen, you can hear the crunch of the watermelon.”

Sometimes, though, the spit bucket is the only option. In season one of Game of Thrones, the character Daenerys Targaryen had to eat a whole horse heart. But the actress who plays her, Emilia Clarke, actually had to eat 28. They were made of solidified jam, which tasted like “bleach and raw pasta,” she told The Mirror. “It was very helpful to be given something so truly disgusting to eat, so there wasn’t much acting required. Fortunately, they gave me a spit bucket because I was vomiting in it quite often.”


Food stylists who work on multiple projects at a time, like Oliver, can’t always stick around to see how their food will be used. They may later find out that a gorgeous spread was relegated to the background, or worse. For a scene in Seinfeld, Oliver was once asked to prepare a perfect, glistening turkey. “Later I was home watching the episode and they had put the turkey on Kramer!” she says. “I was literally crying I was laughing so hard. Never in a million years did I think my turkey was going to end up with a guy’s head.”


Food stylist preparing vegetables

You’d think that being around food all day would make food stylists tired of making things look nice. But most food stylists love to cook, and on the days they aren’t working, they love to throw parties. “People always expect to have beautiful food,” Anderson says. “And I don't disappoint.”

Universal Pictures
10 Surprising Facts About Burt Reynolds
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

If your first memory of Burton Leon Reynolds is from the 1993 film Cop and a Half, then you’re probably too young to remember—or even realize—that Burt Reynolds was once Hollywood's biggest movie star. To put it in perspective: Every year from 1973 to 1984, Reynolds was listed as one of Quigley’s “Top 10 Money Makers,” and held the top spot on the annual poll from 1978 to 1982 (the only other person to boast a record five consecutive years at the top of the list is Bing Crosby, back in the 1940s).

After a serious knee injury and subsequent car accident ended a promising football career at Florida State University, Reynolds found his way into acting. He got his start in a series of television roles, including a regular gig on the western series Riverboat, then hit the big screen big time with his breakout role in John Boorman’s 1972 backwoods classic, Deliverance.

Reynolds followed Deliverance up with such hits as Smokey and The Bandit (a film Playboy called “the Gone with the Wind of good-ol’-boy movies”), Semi-Tough, The Cannonball Run, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Though he hit a bit of a rough patch for a few years, all of that changed when Reynolds agreed to star in Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 ode to pornography, which earned the actor a Golden Globe award, a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, and one of the biggest comebacks of the decade. Here are 10 things you may not have known about the mustachioed Hollywood icon, who turns 82 today.


Over the course of a near-60-year career, one is bound to pass on some prime roles. And Reynolds has turned down a lot, including (by his own admission in the video above) Han Solo in Star Wars, R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman, and John McClane in Die Hard. Although he doesn't regret that final one: “I don’t regret turning down anything Bruce Willis did,” Reynolds told Piers Morgan.

More notably, and perhaps more regrettably, Reynolds turned down a chance to play James Bond in 1969. As Reynolds explains it: “In my infinite wisdom, I said to [producer] Cubby Broccoli, ‘An American can’t play James Bond. It just can’t be done.’ And they really tried to talk me into it. It was a 10-minute discussion. Finally they left. Every night, I wake up in a cold sweat.”

The role Reynolds laments turning down the most, however, is a role that was written specifically with him in mind. When director James L. Brooks approached him about playing Garrett Breedlove in 1983’s Terms of Endearment, Reynolds balked, instead taking a role in Hal Needham’s Stroker Ace. “When it came time to choose between Terms and Stroker, I chose the latter because I felt I owed Hal more than I did Jim,” Reynolds explained (Needham also directed Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, and The Cannonball Run). “Nobody told me I could have probably done Terms and Universal would have waited until I was finished before making Stroker.” The role went to Jack Nicholson, who took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1984.


It may be common knowledge that Burt Reynolds posed naked in Cosmopolitan. What may be less known is that he regrets that decision. “I’m very embarrassed by it,” Reynolds told Piers Morgan. Editor Helen Gurley Brown asked Reynolds to do the photo shoot after the two appeared together on The Tonight Show. “I thought it would be a kick,” Reynolds said. The issue came out only a short time before Deliverance was released in theaters and all 1.6 million copies of the magazine sold out.

Despite the popularity of the spread, Reynolds now believes that it may have distracted from the critical reception of Deliverance. “I thought it cost some actors in Deliverance an Academy Award,” Reynolds told Morgan. “I think it cost Jon [Voight]. I think it cost Ned Beatty, who certainly deserved an Oscar nomination. I think it hurt me, too.”


Burt reynolds in 'Boogie Nights'
New Line Cinema

Paul Thomas Anderson was adamant that Burt Reynolds play iconoclastic porn producer Jack Horner in his 1997 masterpiece, Boogie Nights, despite Reynolds’s aversion to the material. Anderson asked seven times, and got seven passes from Reynolds. “One night—the eighth time—[Anderson] came to my hotel room,” Reynolds recalled. “And I said, ‘Look, you don’t get it.’ And I went a little berserk. And at the end of the tirade, he said, ‘If you can do that in the movie, you’ll get nominated for an Academy Award.’ And he was right.”


The 1980s weren’t always kind to Reynolds. "I can't believe I did all those bad films in a row until I looked at the list," he said. During the filming of 1984’s City Heat, Reynolds was struck in the face by a metal chair and shattered his jaw. He developed TMJ as a result of the injury and ended up losing 40 pounds due to his inability to eat solid food. The shocking weight loss fueled speculation that Reynolds had contracted AIDS, a rumor he spent years refuting. He also developed a severe drug dependency as a result of the chronic and debilitating pain he suffered from TMJ; at one point Reynolds was taking up to 50 Halcion sleeping pills a day.

Reynolds eventually kicked the pill addiction, but was not so lucky with the pain. He still suffers daily from the more than 30-year-old injury.


Burt Reynolds had just finished up his segment as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1994 and had shifted over to make way for the next guest, TV show host Marc Summers (Double Dare, Unwrapped). Reynolds became visibly irritated with Summers for, ostensibly, turning his back on him while he was speaking to Leno. Summers then made the comment to Reynolds, “I’m still married, by the way.” This jab precipitated a water fight between the two combatants: Reynolds dumped his mug on Summers’s lap, Summers retaliated, so on and so forth. The donnybrook culminated in a rather violent pie fight followed by a very awkward hug.

“This was not a bit,” Summers explained. “I didn’t know what to expect. He was going through a divorce with Loni Anderson at the time and he was angry ... He hugged me and said, ‘I only did that because I really like you.’ You wait to get on The Tonight Show your whole life. You’re sitting next to Burt Reynolds. He drops water on your crotch, then you get into a pie fight!”


Reynolds was a longtime admirer of writer Elmore Leonard. After reading Leonard’s novel, Stick, Reynolds decided that he wanted to direct and star in the film version. Things did not go well.

After watching Reynolds’s first cut of the film, the studio pushed back its release date and forced him to re-shoot the second half of the movie, much to the actor/director’s dismay. “I turned in my cut of the picture and truly thought I had made a good film,” Reynolds told the Los Angeles Times. “Word got back to me quickly that the [studio] wanted a few changes … I gave up on the film. I didn't fight them. I let them get the best of me.”

The biggest blow came from Elmore Leonard. "Leonard saw the film the day he was interviewed for a Newsweek cover and told them he hated it,” Reynolds shared. “After his comment, every critic attacked the film and he wouldn't talk to me. When I re-shot the film, I was just going through the motions. I'm not proud of what I did, but I take responsibility for my actions. All I can say—and this is not in way of a defense—is if you liked the first part of Stick, that's what I was trying to achieve throughout.”


Burt Reynolds’s foray into the booming 1970s nightclub business was a short-lived one. He opened Burt’s Place in the late 1970s at the Omni International Hotel in downtown Atlanta. The club’s most notable feature was a stained glass dance floor that featured a rendering of Burt’s face and the words, “Burt’s Joint”—which was odd, considering that wasn’t even the name of the establishment. Burt’s Place/Joint closed after a year.


Coming up in the movie business, Burt Reynolds was a huge Marlon Brando fan. Brando did not share the sentiment. When Reynolds was being considered for the role of Michael Corleone in 1972’s The Godfather, Brando adamantly declared that if Reynolds was given the role, he would remove himself from the project. The rest is history.

Brando later said about Reynolds, “He is the epitome of something that makes me want to throw up … He is the epitome of everything that is disgusting about the thespian … He worships at the temple of his own narcissism.” Ouch! To be fair, in the same conversation, Brando admits that he had never even met Reynolds.



Hot off his success in Deliverance and his nude spread in Cosmo, a solo album seemed like the next, most Hollywood-appropriate course of action.

Reynolds released his debut record, “Ask Me What I Am,” in 1973 and somehow this gem seems to have evaded critics and fans alike. We do know that the album came with a double-sized poster of Reynolds in a blue jumpsuit and cowboy hat. You can listen to a track on YouTube, but if you must hear it in its entirety, it’s available on Amazon.


“They keep talking about a remake, but I don’t think you could find four actors crazy enough to do it,” Reynolds said. “Not by any stretch of the imagination were we white water experts. We’d quit for the day and come back and practice. We got to the point where we were more proficient, or at least we didn’t get tipped over all the time. I have to admit that, in spite of the danger, or maybe because of the danger, it was the most fun I ever had.”

Reynolds has often said that Deliverance is the finest of all of his films.


More from mental floss studios