Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment

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.

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
12 Surprising Facts About Robin Williams
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA

Robin Williams had a larger-than-life personality. On screen and on stage, he embodied what he referred to as “hyper-comedy.” Offscreen, he was involved in humanitarian causes and raised three children—Zak, Zelda, and Cody. On July 16, HBO debuts the documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, directed by Marina Zenovich. The film chronicles his rise on the L.A. and San Francisco stand-up comedy scenes during the 1970s, to his more dramatic roles in the 1980s and '90s in award-winning films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; Awakenings; The Fisher King; and Good Will Hunting. The film also focuses on August 11, 2014, the date of his untimely death. Here are 12 surprising facts about the beloved entertainer.

1. ROBIN WILLIAMS GOT HIS START AT A COMEDY WORKSHOP INSIDE A CHURCH.

A still from 'Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind' (2018)
HBO

After leaving Juilliard, Robin Williams found himself back in his hometown of San Francisco, but he couldn’t find work as an actor. Then he saw something for a comedy workshop in a church and decided to give it a shot. “So I went to this workshop in the basement of a Lutheran church, and it was stand-up comedy, so you don’t get to improvise with others, but I started off doing, ostensibly, it was just like improvising but solo," he told NPR. "And then I started to realize, ‘Oh.’ [I started] building an act from there."

2. HE FORMED A FRIENDSHIP WITH KOKO THE GORILLA.

In 2001, Williams visited Koko the gorilla, who passed away in June, at The Gorilla Foundation in Northern California. Her caregivers had shown her one of his movies, and she seemed to recognize him. Koko repeatedly signed for Williams to tickle her. “We shared something extraordinary: laughter,” Williams said of the encounter. On the day Williams died, The Foundation shared the news with Koko and reported that she fell into sadness.

3. FOR A TIME, HE WAS A MIME IN CENTRAL PARK.

In 1974, photographer Daniel Sorine captured photos of two mimes in New York's Central Park. As it turned out, one of the mimes was Williams, who was attending Juilliard at the time. “What attracted me to Robin Williams and his fellow mime, Todd Oppenheimer, was an unusual amount of intensity, personality, and physical fluidity,” Sorine said. In 1991, Williams revisited the craft by playing Mime Jerry in Bobcat Goldthwait’s film Shakes the Clown. In the movie, Williams hilariously leads a how-to class in mime.

4. HE TRIED TO GET LYDIA FROM MRS. DOUBTFIRE BACK IN SCHOOL.

As a teen, Lisa Jakub played Robin Williams’s daughter Lydia Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. “When I was 14 years old, I went on location to film Mrs. Doubtfire for five months, and my high school was not happy,” Jakub wrote on her blog. “My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a ‘non-traditional’ student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.”

Sensing Jakub’s distress over the situation, Williams typed a letter and sent it to her school. “A student of her caliber and talent should be encouraged to go out in the world and learn through her work,” he wrote. “She should also be encouraged to return to the classroom when she’s done to share those experiences and motivate her classmates to soar to their own higher achievements … she is an asset to any classroom.”

Apparently, the school framed the letter but didn’t allow Jakub to return. “But here’s what matters from that story—Robin stood up for me,” Jakub wrote. “I was only 14, but I had already seen that I was in an industry that was full of back-stabbing. And it was entirely clear that Robin had my back.”

5. HE WASN’T PRODUCERS' FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY MORK ON MORK & MINDY.

Anson Williams, Marion Ross, and Don Most told The Hallmark Channel that a different actor was originally hired to play Mork for the February 1978 Happy Days episode “My Favorite Orkan,” which introduced the alien character to the world. “Mork & Mindy was like the worst script in the history of Happy Days. It was unreadable, it was so bad,” Anson Williams said. “So they hire some guy for Mork—bad actor, bad part.” The actor quit, and producer Garry Marshall came to the set and asked: “Does anyone know a funny Martian?” They hired Williams to play Mork, and from September 1978 to May 1982, Williams co-headlined the spinoff Mork & Mindy for four seasons.

6. HE “RISKED” A ROLE IN AN OFF-BROADWAY PLAY.

Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Michael Caulfield, Getty Images for PCA

In 1988, Williams made his professional stage debut as Estragon in the Mike Nichols-directed Waiting for Godot, which also starred Steve Martin and F. Murray Abraham. The play was held off-Broadway at Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. The New York Times asked Williams if he felt the show was a career risk, and he responded with: “Risk! Of never working on the stage again! Oh, no! You’re ruined! It’s like you're ruined socially in Tustin,” a town in Orange County, California. “If there’s risk, you can’t think about it,” he said, “or you’ll never be able to do the play.”

Williams had to restrain himself and not improvise during his performance. “You can do physical things,” he said, “but you don’t ad lib [Samuel] Beckett, just like you don’t riff Beethoven.” In 1996, Nichols and Williams once again worked together, this time in the movie The Birdcage.

7. HE USHERED IN THE ERA OF CELEBRITY VOICE ACTING.

The 1992 success of Aladdin, in which Williams voiced Genie, led to more celebrities voicing animated characters. According to a 2011 article in The Atlantic, “Less than 20 years ago, voice acting was almost exclusively the realm of voice actors—people specifically trained to provide voices for animated characters. As it turns out, the rise of the celebrity voice actor can be traced to a single film: Disney’s 1992 breakout animated hit Aladdin.” Since then, big names have attached themselves to animated films, from The Lion King to Toy Story to Shrek. Williams continued to do voice acting in animated films, including Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet 2.

8. HE FORGOT TO THANK HIS MOTHER DURING HIS 1998 OSCAR SPEECH.

In March 1998, Williams won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. In 2011, Williams appeared on The Graham Norton Show, and Norton asked him what it was like to win the award. “For a week it was like, ‘Hey congratulations! Good Will Hunting, way to go,'” Williams said. “Two weeks later: ‘Hey, Mork.’”

Then Williams mentioned how his speech accidentally left out one of the most important people in his life. “I forgot to thank my mother and she was in the audience,” he said. “Even the therapist went, ‘Get out!’ That was rough for the next few years. [Mom voice] ‘You came through here [points to his pants]! How’s the award?’”

9. HE COMFORTED STEVEN SPIELBERG DURING THE FILMING OF SCHINDLER’S LIST.

At this year’s 25th anniversary screening of Schindler’s List, held at the Tribeca Film Festival, director Steven Spielberg shared that Williams—who played Peter Pan in Spielberg’s Hook—would call him and make him laugh. “Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, Robin would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone,” Spielberg said. “I would laugh hysterically, because I had to release so much.”

10. HE HELPED ETHAN HAWKE GET HIS AGENT.

During a June 2018 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Ethan Hawke recalled how, while working on Dead Poets Society, Williams was hard on him. “I really wanted to be a serious actor,” Hawke said. “I really wanted to be in character, and I really didn’t want to laugh. The more I didn’t laugh, the more insane [Williams] got. He would make fun of me. ‘Oh this one doesn't want to laugh.’ And the more smoke would come out of my ears. He didn’t understand I was trying to do a good job.” Hawke had assumed Williams hated him during filming.

After filming ended, Hawke went back to school, but he received a surprising phone call. It was from Williams’s agent, who—at Williams's suggestion—wanted to sign Hawke. Hawke said he still has the same agent today.

11. HE WAS ALMOST CAST IN MIDNIGHT RUN.

In February 1988, Williams told Rolling Stone how he sometimes still had to audition for roles. “I read for a movie with [Robert] De Niro, [Midnight Run], to be directed by Marty Brest,” Williams said. “I met with them three or four times, and it got real close, it was almost there, and then they went with somebody else. The character was supposed to be an accountant for the Mafia. Charles Grodin got the part. I was craving it. I thought, ‘I can be as funny,’ but they wanted someone obviously more in type. And in the end, he was better for it. But it was rough for me. I had to remind myself, ‘Okay, come on, you’ve got other things.’”

In July 1988, Universal released Midnight Run. Just two years later, Williams finally worked with De Niro, on Awakenings.

12. BILLY CRYSTAL AND WILLIAMS USED TO TALK ON THE PHONE FOR HOURS.

Actors Robin Williams (L) and Billy Crystal pose at the afterparty for the premiere of Columbia Picture's 'RV' on April 23, 2006 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Starting in 1986, Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg co-hosted HBO’s Comic Relief to raise money for the homeless. Soon after Williams’s death, Crystal went on The View and spoke with Goldberg about his friendship with Williams. “We were like two jazz musicians,” Crystal said. “Late at night I get these calls and we’d go for hours. And we never spoke as ourselves. When it was announced I was coming to Broadway, I had 50 phone messages, in one day, from somebody named Gary, who wanted to be my backstage dresser.”

“Gary” turned out to be Williams.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind premieres on Monday, July 16 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.

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Walt Disney Pictures
10 Facts About Hocus Pocus
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Bette Midler said she'd be interested in doing a Hocus Pocus sequel. "You have to go to send in your cards to the Walt Disney company," she said. "The ball's in their court." While you get those cards ready, here are some facts about the original, which arrived in theaters 25 years ago today.

1. THE STORY ORIGINATED AS A BEDTIME STORY.

The story for Hocus Pocus came about after writer David Kirschner invented a bedtime story for his kids. He later wrote the story up and submitted it to Muppet Magazine (why does this not still exist?), where it gained recognition.

2. THE WRITERS USED PROPS TO PITCH IT TO STUDIO EXECUTIVES.

Bette Midler in 'Hocus Pocus' (1993)
Walt Disney Pictures

To pitch the story to Disney, the writers had execs enter a dark room with broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner hanging from the ceiling. They also scattered 15 pounds of candy corn throughout the room in an effort to invoke Halloween nostalgia. It obviously worked!

3. IT WAS NOT AN IMMEDIATE HIT.

Though it’s a cult classic now, Hocus Pocus didn’t do that well when it first came out in 1993, perhaps because it was released in July instead of September or October. Though it didn’t have a terrible opening—$8,125,471, putting it in fourth place at the box office that weekend—it fell to $2,017,688 a few weeks later, and bad reviews from the critics didn’t help matters.

Entertainment Weekly was particularly put off by the movie, calling it a “piece of corny slapstick trash” and saying that “It’s acceptable scary-silly kid fodder that adults will find only mildly insulting. Unless they’re Bette Midler fans. In which case it’s depressing as hell.”

4. BETTE MIDLER LOVES IT.

Bette Midler, by the way, has said that Hocus Pocus is her favorite film out of all of the films she’s ever done. (At least as of 2008.) Thora Birch agreed, recently saying, “The most fun I ever had on a film was Hocus Pocus.”

5. KATHY NAJIMY LOVES IT, TOO.

Midler isn't the only star of the film who isn't immune to its allure: Kathy Najimy has said she watches the movie with her family every year on August 15.

6. IT COULD HAVE STARRED LEONARDO DICAPRIO.

The role of Max was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio. He turned it down to do What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

7. SARAH JESSICA PARKER IS RELATED TO A WOMAN FAMOUSLY ACCUSED OF BEING A WITCH.

Had Sarah Jessica Parker known then what she knows now, she might have approached the role of Sarah Sanderson a little differently. When the actress went on the show Who Do You Think You Are to trace her family history, Parker discovered that one of her ancestors was Esther Elwell, one of the women accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. After a young girl said she saw Esther’s “spectre” strangling neighbor Mary Fitch, Elwell was arrested, but escaped going to trial.

8. THORA BIRCH REVISITED THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN AMERICAN BEAUTY.

While the kids are prematurely celebrating victory against the Sanderson sisters after locking them in the kiln, they’re shown talking in front of a house as they walk to a park. The house was later used as the house Thora Birch’s character lived in for American Beauty.

9. THE KIDS WEREN'T HUGE FANS OF THE CATS.

The kids all hated working with the cats. Many different cats were used to represent Binx, and each one served a different purpose—one was good at cuddling with the kids, one would jump on command, etc. Every time a new cat was used, the children would have to coerce the kitty to trust them by using treats and a clicker. They got sick of it.

10. MUCH OF THE ORIGINAL CAST REUNITED FOR A 20TH REUNION.

Most of the cast participated in a 20th anniversary event for D23 (the Disney fan club) members. Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler were not in attendance, but pretty much everyone else was, including Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), Vinessa Shaw (Allison), Omri Katz (Max), Thora Birch (Dani), and Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson). You can watch some of that reunion above.

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