15 Surprising Facts About There Will Be Blood

Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment

Family, greed, religion, madness, and milkshakes came together in unexpected and jarring ways in There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling tale of a wealthy oilman named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) who uses his cunning and charm to convince a small California town to let him drill their land for oil in the early 1900s. His manipulation tactics work on all but one member of the community: Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a young preacher who proves to be a surprisingly deft opponent for Plainview.

On the 10th anniversary of the movie’s release, we went behind the scenes of the epic Oscar-winner to dig up 15 fascinating facts about its making.

1. IT’S ONLY PARTIALLY BASED ON UPTON SINCLAIR’S OIL!.

Though even the credits note that the film is based on Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, the novel served as more of a starting point for Paul Thomas Anderson, who adapted it for the screen.

“[W]ith There Will Be Blood, I didn't even really feel like I was adapting a book,” Anderson told The A.V. Club. “I was just desperate to find stuff to write. I can remember the way that my desk looked, with so many different scraps of paper and books about the oil industry in the early 20th century, mixed in with pieces of other scripts that I'd written. Everything was coming from so many different sources. But the book was a great stepping-stone. It was so cohesive, the way Upton Sinclair wrote about that period, and his experiences around the oil fields and these independent oilmen. That said, the book is so long that it's only the first couple hundred pages that we ended up using, because there is a certain point where he strays really far from what the original story is. We were really unfaithful to the book.”

2. PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON AND DANIEL DAY-LEWIS WERE FANS OF EACH OTHER’S WORK.

While producer JoAnne Sellar has said that There Would Be Blood may never have even happened if Daniel Day-Lewis had declined the role, Day-Lewis said that he was excited simply at the prospect of working with Anderson, as he was a fan of the director’s work.

“Initially, it’s all about the script,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon. “But in [Anderson’s] case, I certainly knew his films and already admired him a great deal. And most particularly for his recent film Punch-Drunk Love. So even the very idea of working with him when the word came was something I was intrigued by. Nonetheless, had I read that script and not felt drawn into the world that he’d created, out of respect for him I’d have said: ‘Get somebody else, because I can’t help you here.’ But I was very drawn to the idea of working with him.”

3. DANIEL PLAINVIEW'S DARKNESS WAS PART OF WHAT ATTRACTED DAY-LEWIS TO THE CHARACTER.

Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood'
Paramount Home Entertainment

Day-Lewis isn’t known for playing happy-go-lucky types and admitted that it was the darkness within the character of Daniel Plainview that further attracted him to the part.

“I daresay, because the unconscious plays such an important part in the work, the imagination being on the front line of that ... what could be more liberating than to explore with impunity the darker recesses of one's imagination and psyche?" Day-Lewis told NPR. "I suppose that has always appealed to me, and I always am most often intrigued by lives that seem very far removed from my own. [With] Plainview, [it] wasn't the violence of the man or the misanthrope of the man that attracted me particularly, but just that unknown life in its entirety."

4. ANDERSON FOUND INSPIRATION IN THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.

It’s been widely reported that Anderson watched John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre every night before filming began on There Will Be Blood, but the director told Filmmaker Magazine that while the amount of times he watched the film before production “has gotten completely exaggerated,” he did find inspiration in the film.

“What was nice about that movie was that it's kind of a play wrapped up in the clothes of an adventure film,” Anderson said. “It's essentially a dialogue, a dynamic between these three guys. [The film's] traditional straightforward storytelling was what I was influenced by, and it was something that seemed to apply when trying to make a big story on a limited budget.”

5. DAY-LEWIS DID NOT BASE PLAINVIEW’S MANNERISMS ON JOHN HUSTON.

Another part of the There Will Be Blood/The Treasure of the Sierra Madre connection that seems to have been exaggerated is that Day-Lewis based the mannerisms of his character on John Huston, who wrote and directed the 1948 film and made a small cameo in it.

“A few people have asked me if I modeled [Daniel’s] voice on John Huston,” Day-Lewis told Time Out. “I didn’t. But I did listen to some tapes of Huston’s voice, among others. And there was something about the vigor of Huston’s language that appealed to me.”

6. DAY-LEWIS PUT A LOT OF THOUGHT INTO WHAT PLAINVIEW’S HAT SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Dillon Freasier in There Will Be Blood (2007)
Paramount Home Entertainment

In an interview with The Washington Post, costume designer Mark Bridges explained that hats were extremely important to both the character of Daniel Plainview, and Day-Lewis for finding the character. “Leading up to the first time we see that hat, his hats kind of echo or inform what’s going on with his career and life,” Bridges said.

“Daniel Day-Lewis felt the hats were very important to his character,” Bridges continued. “There were three choices that were all good, and he took them and lived with them for days. He sort of creates mini worlds, and so he took them, just took them for a spin, so to speak, and settled on that one as what he felt most comfortable with and most represented in his mind the character he was creating. And it took on a kind of magic where he would be Daniel Day-Lewis, but you knew he was Daniel Plainview once the hat went on. So that was very rewarding to me.”

One more thing about that hat: “The sweat stains are real,” Bridges admitted. “It was worn day in and day out and has been much loved by all who’ve come in contact with it.”

7. PAUL AND ELI SUNDAY WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE TWINS.

In the film, Paul Dano plays twins Paul and Eli Sunday, but the brothers weren’t written as twins. Dano was originally cast in the smaller role of Paul Sunday, who visits Plainview to tell him about the oil under his family’s property in Little Boston, California. Another actor, Kel O'Neill, was cast as Eli and spent several weeks shooting before Anderson decided it just wasn’t working. As all of O’Neill’s scenes would need to be reshot, Anderson approached Dano about taking on the role—leaving him with just four days to prepare. (Dano received a BAFTA nomination for his work.)

Though rumors swirled that O’Neill departed the project because he was intimidated by Day-Lewis, all of the parties in question have gone on record to state that this was not the case.

“Filmmaking is so alchemical that sometimes certain factors don’t add up,” O’Neill told Vulture. “Some directors I’ve worked with—who very few people would say are better directors than Paul—just had a way of making me feel comfortable. For some reason, even though every other actor I know had a relationship with Paul that was super positive and where they did their best work, that just didn’t happen with me. I would attribute that primarily to a failure on my side: An actor should, with every ounce of their humanity, be attempting to give the director what he or she wants. And I recall going in and out on whether I could really do that.”

“It’s the only occasion in my life that, during the course of a piece of work, we had to re-cast and re-shoot stuff which I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon. “Paul [Dano] was already contracted to play the part of Paul, and we’d all considered him for Eli already, so it seemed like an obvious choice … He came out on a Friday evening and we were shooting scenes on Monday with him. And I swear to God on set that day he was a recognizable, fully formed character. I dare say he was slightly unsettled in himself, but you wouldn’t have guessed it. He was just right there.”

8. PAUL DANO DIDN’T ALWAYS KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DAY-LEWIS.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano in 'There Will Be Blood'
Miramax

When asked about what it was like to work opposite Day-Lewis in such an intense, antagonistic way, Dano told Collider that there were “definitely some moments where, you know, I was going, ‘Holy s**t.’ … Because we didn’t really rehearse and so sometimes, I didn’t know how big something that was going to come out of him was going to be, because he’s so powerful. And I don’t really want to say specific instances. I think you can probably imagine hearing some of the lines from that ending scene on the page but then, you know, the real deal is just a whole [other] level.”

9. DILLON FREASIER, WHO PLAYED HW, HAD NEVER ACTED BEFORE.

Anderson and his team had a bit of trouble casting the role of HW, Plainfield’s son. Though they looked at a number of professional child actors, Anderson realized that “we needed a boy from Texas who knew how to shoot shotguns and live in that world.”

So casting director Cassandra Kulukundis contacted a number of schools around Marfa, Texas, where they were shooting, and asked for their help. According to the Los Angeles Times, Kulukundis was asking for "a child who didn't play with GameBoys but worked outside," while Anderson described the ideal actor as "a man in a young boy's body."

One of the boys recommended to Kulukundis was Dillon Freasier, whom she met, did some improv with, and was impressed by. “[H]e just stayed in my mind, so I called [his mother] at home and asked if it was all right if I could come over that night," Kulukundis explained.

That same day, while heading to another school to meet with some additional kids, she got lost and was running late and driving at triple the speed limit. That’s when she got pulled over by a state trooper, who looked down at her license and said: "I think you're coming to my home tonight." The officer was Dillon’s mom, Regina. (Who let Kulukundis off with a warning.)

10. FREASIER’S MOM WAS NERVOUS ABOUT LETTING HER SON WORK WITH DAY-LEWIS.

While things clearly worked out well for Dillon Freasier, even after that little traffic stop incident, his mom wasn’t very familiar with Day-Lewis’s work. Before agreeing to let her son spend so much time with a man she knew nothing about, she decided to watch one of his films.

“Dillon’s mom thought she’d go and rent a movie with that fella Daniel Day-Lewis,” the three-time Oscar winner told The Mercury News. “So she went and got Gangs of New York and was absolutely appalled. She thought she was releasing her dear child into the hands of this monster. So there was a flurry of phone calls and someone sent her The Age of Innocence and apparently that did the trick.”

When Day-Lewis won a Best Actor Oscar for his work in There Will Be Blood, he thanked his young co-star in his speech. But Freasier missed it; he was already asleep.

11. THE FAKE OIL WAS MADE FROM THE SAME LIQUID MCDONALD’S USES IN ITS MILKSHAKES.

Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood'
Miramax

When discussing the production design for the film with Entertainment Weekly, Anderson explained how they had to build an 80-foot oil derrick and fill it with fake oil. The recipe for that oil, according to Anderson, included “the stuff they put in chocolate milkshakes at McDonald’s.”

12. A PYROTECHNIC TEST PROVED PROBLEMATIC FOR THE COEN BROTHERS.

When awards season rolled around, There Will Be Blood and the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men went head-to-head for a number of the year’s biggest accolades. Oddly, the two films also ended up shooting in the remote and tiny town of Marfa, Texas at the same time. But Anderson ended up creating a bit of a problem for the Coens. While conducting a pyrotechnic test, Anderson and his team accidentally created a billow of smoke so large that it could be seen by the Coens’ cameras, leading them to have to cancel shooting for the day.

13. BEYOND READING, DAY-LEWIS DIDN’T DO MUCH PREP.

While Day-Lewis is known for going to some pretty far lengths to prepare for his roles, his prep for There Will Be Blood mainly consisted of reading. “I read the book [Oil!]. The first 150 pages or so introduce you to the world of the oilfields at that time, and there's a lot of great detail about the world of the drillers and the prospectors,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon.

As for any special preparations he made to play such a devilish character, the actor admitted that he didn’t really have to do much. “I don’t know what that says about me, I wish I could say there was some monstrous … well, there are a couple of monstrous members of the family that I suppose I could have modeled him on, but in this case I didn’t. There was no model.”

14. NO, DAY-LEWIS DID NOT BUILD AN OIL RIG IN HIS BACKYARD.

Ever the Method actor, many outlets reported that to prepare for his role, Day-Lewis actually built his very own oil rig. Those stories were false. “It was rumored apparently that I’d built a derrick in a field behind my house in County Wicklow,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon, “and I must say when I read that I thought: ‘That’s not a bad idea, I might try that!’ But we were a bit short on help at the time. Considering the way that I work very often, I do feel I’ve been soundly misrepresented so many times that there’s almost no point in even talking about it, but people tend to focus on the details of the preparation, the practical details in this clinic or that prison and so on and so forth … But for me as much as that work is a vital part of it and always fuel to one’s fascination, one’s curiosity, the principal work is always in the imagination. That’s where it’s going to happen if it’s going to happen anywhere at all.”

15. IT’S ANDERSON’S MOST PROFITABLE MOVIE.

Though Anderson’s latest film, Phantom Thread, is getting stellar reviews, There Will Be Blood remains the six-time Oscar nominee’s most profitable movie, with an estimated $40.2 million gross. It’s a far cry from the $26.4 million that his second most profitable movie, Boogie Nights, made.

10 Bold Breaking Bad Fan Theories

Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Ben Leuner, AMC

It’s been nearly six years since Breaking Bad went out in a blaze of gunfire, but fans still haven’t stopped thinking about the award-winning crime drama. What really happened to Walter White in the series finale? What’s the backstory on Gus Fring? And what did Jesse Pinkman’s doodles mean?

While El Camino, Vince Gilligan's new Breaking Bad movie, offers definitive answers to at least one of these questions, these fan theories offer some alternative answers—even if they strain the limits of logic and sanity along the way. Read on to discover the surprising source of Walt’s cancer diagnosis, and why pink is always bad news.

1. Walter White picks up traits from the people he kills.

Walter White is an unpredictable guy, but he’s weirdly consistent on one thing: After he kills someone, he kind of copies them. Remember how Krazy-8 liked his sandwiches without the crust? After Walt murdered him, he started eating crustless PB&Js. Walt also lifted Mike Ehrmantraut’s drink order and Gus Fring’s car, leading many fans to wonder if Walt steals personal characteristics from the people he kills.

2. Gus Fring worked for the CIA.

Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) in Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito and Javier Grajeda in Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote, AMC

Who was Gus Fring before he became the ruthless leader of a meth/fried chicken empire? Well, we know he’s from Chile. We also know that any records of his time there are gone. And we know that cartel kingpin Don Eladio refused to kill him when he had the chance. Since Don Eladio has no qualms about eliminating the competition, Gus must have some form of protection. Could it be from the U.S. government? A detailed Reddit theory suggests that Gus was once a Chilean aristocrat who helped the CIA install the dictator Augusto Pinochet in power. Once Pinochet became a liability, Gus went to Mexico at the CIA’s behest to infiltrate a drug cartel. His alliance with U.S. intelligence kept him alive even as his work got more violent, and helped him bypass the normal immigration issues you'd typically encounter when you’ve murdered a bunch of people.

3. Madrigal built defective air filters that gave Walter white cancer.

Madrigal Electromotive is a corporation with varied interests. The German parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos dabbles in shipping, fast food, and industrial equipment … including air filters. According to one fan theory, Gray Matter—the company Walter White co-founded with Elliott Schwartz—purchased defective air filters from Madrigal and installed them while Walt still worked at the company. The filters ultimately caused Walt’s lung cancer, pushing him into the illegal drug trade and, eventually, business with Madrigal.

4. Color is a crucial element in the series.

Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) and Hank Schrader (Dean Norris)
Betsy Brandt and Dean Norris as Marie and Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad.
Ben Leuner, AMC

Color is a code on Breaking Bad. When a character chooses drab tones, they’re usually going through something, like withdrawal (Jesse) or chemo (Walt). Their wardrobe might turn darker as their stories skew darker—like when Marie ditched her trademark purple for black while she was under protective custody. Also, pink signals death, whether it’s on a teddy bear or Saul Goodman’s button down shirt.

5. Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead exist in the same universe.

Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead both aired on AMC, but according to fans, that’s not all they have in common. There’s an exhaustive body of evidence connecting the two shows—and one of the biggest links is Blue Sky. The distinctively-colored crystal meth is Walt and Jesse’s calling card on Breaking Bad, but it’s also Merle Dixon’s drug of choice on The Walking Dead. Coincidentally, his drug dealer (“a janky little white guy” who says “bitch”) sounds a lot like Jesse.

6. Walter white froze to death and hallucinated Breaking Bad's ending.

Bryan Cranston in the 'Breaking Bad' series finale
Ursula Coyote, AMC

In her review of the Breaking Bad series finale “Felina,” The New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum suggested an alternate ending in which Walt died an episode earlier, as the police surrounded his car in New Hampshire. He could’ve frozen to death “behind the wheel of a car he couldn’t start,” she theorized, and hallucinated the dramatic final shootout in “Felina” in his dying moments. This reading has gained traction with multiple fans, including SNL alum Norm Macdonald.

7. Jesse’s superheroes are a peek into his inner psyche.

In season 2 of Breaking Bad, we discover that Jesse Pinkman is a part-time artist. He sketches his own superheroes, including Backwardo/Rewindo (who can run backwards so fast he rewinds time), Hoverman (who floats above the ground), and Kanga-Man (who has a sidekick in his “pouch”). The characters are goofy, just like Jesse, but they may also reveal what’s going on in his head. Backwardo represents Jesse’s tendency to run from conflict. Hoverman reflects his lack of direction or purpose, while Kanga-Man hints at his codependency.

8. Madrigal was founded by Nazi war criminals.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) in 'Breaking Bad'
Bryan Cranston and Michael Bowen in Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote, AMC

This might be one of the wilder Breaking Bad theories, but before you write it off, consider Werner Heisenberg: The German physicist, who helped pioneer Hitler’s nuclear weapons program, is the obvious inspiration for Walt’s meth kingpin moniker. While Heisenberg only appears in name, there are plenty of literal Nazis on the show. Look no further than Uncle Jack and the Aryan Brotherhood, who served as the Big Bad of season 5. At least one Redditor thinks all these Nazi references are hinting at something bigger, a conspiracy that goes straight to the top. The theory starts in South America, where many Nazis fled after World War II. A group of them supposedly formed a new company, Madrigal, through their existing connections back in Germany. Eventually, a young Chilean named Gus Fring worked his way into the growing business, and the rest is (fake) history.

9. Walter white survived, but paid the price.

Lots of Breaking Bad theories concern Walt’s death, or lack thereof. But if Walt actually lived through his seemingly fatal gunshot wound in “Felina,” what would the rest of his life look like? According to one Reddit theory, it wouldn’t be pretty. The infamous Heisenberg would almost certainly stand trial and go to prison. Although he tries to leave Skyler White with information to cut a deal with the cops, she could also easily go to jail—or lose custody of her children. The kids wouldn’t necessarily get that money Walt left with Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz, either, as they could take his threats to the police and surrender the cash to them. Basically it amounts to a whole lot of misery, making Walt’s death an oddly optimistic ending. (This is one theory El Camino addresses directly.)

10. Breaking Bad is a prequel to Malcolm in the Middle.

Bryan Cranston in the series premiere of 'Breaking Bad'
Bryan Cranston in the series premiere of Breaking Bad.
Doug Hyun, AMC

Alright, let’s say Walt survived the series finale and didn’t stand trial. Maybe he started over as a new man with a new family. Three boys, perhaps? This fan-favorite theory claims that Walter White assumed a new identity as Malcolm in the Middle patriarch Hal after the events of Breaking Bad, making the show a prequel to Bryan Cranston’s beloved sitcom. The Breaking Bad crew actually liked this idea so much they included an “alternate ending” on the DVD boxed set, where Hal wakes up from a bad dream where "There was a guy who never spoke! He just rang a bell the whole time! And then there was another guy who was a policeman or a DEA agent, and I think it was my brother or something. He looked like the guy from The Shield."

Fan Notices Hilarious Connection Between Joaquin Phoenix's Joker and Superbad's McLovin

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

There seems to be exactly one funny thing about Todd Phillips's latest film, Joker.

As reported by Geek.com, someone on Twitter by the name of @minalopezavina brilliantly pointed out that Arthur Fleck from Joker and McLovin from Superbad are pretty much in the same costume.

This meme is a nice moment of comic relief in an otherwise very serious movie. In fact, Joker is so dark that the United States Army had issued warnings about possible shootings at theaters playing the film. The warnings coincided with criticisms that the film might be too violent, with fears that the villain-led storyline would result in copycat events in real life.

Both Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix have weighed in on the controversy, with the director explaining to The Wrap, "It wasn’t, ‘We want to glorify this behavior.’ It was literally like ‘Let’s make a real movie with a real budget and we’ll call it f**king Joker’. That’s what it was.”

All we can say is the amount of chatter behind Joker certainly led to both packed theaters, and endless memes online.

[h/t Geek.com]

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