10 Killer Facts About So I Married an Axe Murderer

TriStar Pictures
TriStar Pictures

On July 30, 1993, TriStar released Mike Myers's second film, So I Married an Axe Murderer. Myers’s first film was the blockbuster Wayne’s World (its sequel came out on December 10, 1993), but with So I Married an Axe Murderer, Myers took his first foray into leading man territory (opposite Nancy Travis, who he thinks is the titular killer).

Future Emmy-winning West Wing producer/director Thomas Schlamme directed the script, written by Robbie Fox. In the film, Myers portrays Charlie MacKenzie, a commitment-phobic beat poet who lives in San Francisco. (Myers also plays Charlie’s Scottish father, Stuart, based on Myers's own dad.) Charlie meets Harriet (Travis), a butcher, and despite suspecting her of murdering her previous husbands, he marries her. The thriller/rom-com was released a month after Sleepless in Seattle, but didn't make nearly the same impact. Axe Murderer grossed just $11.5 million at the box office (on a $20 million budget). Over the years, however, it’s evolved into a cult classic. Here are 10 thrilling facts about the film on its 25th birthday.

1. THE SCRIPT WAS INSPIRED BY ANNIE HALL.

Screenwriter Robbie Fox told a blog that while he was writing the script he was thinking about, “Annie Hall, but what if Annie just might be a murderer.” He sold the idea to Columbia Pictures, and the film’s producer Robert Fried “told me to write for Woody Allen.” Fox said Allen was interested in directing the film, but it didn’t pan out. “As it was told to me, he asked for $7 million; Columbia offered him $5 [million],” Fox said. “They had a Mexican standoff for about two weeks. Then he did Scenes from a Mall instead.”

2. SHARON STONE ALMOST STARRED IN THE FILM.

During production, the studio was considering casting either Kim Basinger or Sharon Stone for the role of Harriet. During the casting process, however, Travis was dating producer Rob Fried. “How did I get involved with Axe Murderer? I can truthfully say I slept with the producer,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I made suggestions, but I stayed back,” she said. “After Sharon Stone fell through, Thomas Schlamme, the director, said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I read with Mike Myers. I passed all the tests.” A year after the film came out, Travis and Fried married. They've been married for nearly 25 years now.

3. MIKE MYERS EQUATED HIS CHARACTER'S FEAR OF MARRIAGE WITH DEATH.

In a 1993 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, Myers explained how his character felt about marriage. “Charlie’s thing is that he’s so afraid of getting married that he thinks he’s going to die,” he said. “Then he meets the girl of his dreams, and yes, she will kill him.”

4. THOMAS SCHLAMME DIDN’T THINK MYERS TRUSTED HIM.

The director and actor disagreed on set, to the point that Thomas Schlamme told the Television Academy Foundation that working on the film was “the most difficult experience I had professionally.” He explained: “Because I had such good experiences [with comedians], I was amazed that I couldn’t get this guy to trust me. Mike wasn’t completely off base not to trust me, because I had a lot of anger and rage in there because I felt like I wasn’t being listened to.” Schlamme said he could’ve laid out the problems between them better than he did.

5. YOU CAN VISIT THE PLACE WHERE HARRIET AND CHARLIE HONEYMOONED.

The newlyweds spend their wedding night at a secluded hotel. In real life, they filmed it at the 50-acre Dunsmuir House and Gardens in Oakland, California—though production designer John Graysmark built a 16,224-foot replica of the roof, where the film’s thrilling climax takes place, on a sound stage. Many other movies have filmed at the 1899 estate, including Phantasm, Burnt Offerings, A View to a Kill, and True Crime. Visitors can tour the mansion and the grounds.

6. MYERS LOVED THE LA’S SONG “THERE SHE GOES.”

The one-album English group the La’s released the song—from their only album—in 1988 and then reissued it in 1990. ”I think it’s one of the greatest pop tunes ever,” Myers told Entertainment Weekly in 2005. “Paul Shaffer saw me listening and loving the song, so for many years that’s what he would play whenever I came out on Letterman.”

Two versions of the song appear on the film's soundtrack: the La’s version and a cover from another British group, the Boo Radleys. In 1999, Sixpence None the Richer had a hit when they covered it. Leigh Nash, Sixpence’s lead singer, said it was “the perfect pop song.”

7. THE FILM LED TO SCHLAMME’S SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION CAREER.

Schlamme made his feature directorial debut in 1989 with the Holly Hunter flick Miss Firecracker; So I Married an Axe Murderer was his second—and last—theatrical film. In 2015, when asked why he has "stuck to television, Schlamme told IndieWire: “Well, I would say the reason that it first started was I was put a little bit into movie jail after [So I Married an] Axe Murderer, and it was probably the best thing that’s happened because I had loved television, I was doing television ... But what happened after Axe Murderer was that I realized, with some of the work that I had done, television had the ability to do the kinds of stories that I was interested in. And having the ability to at least get those, where in movies I wasn’t [able], I became committed to television.”

Since Axe Murderer, Schlamme has directed episodes of Friends, Mad About You, Spin City, ER, Sports Night, The West Wing, and The Americans.

8. MYERS THINKS OF IT AS A HORROR MOVIE.

“We’re all suffering from cold feet, and what is cold feet but low-grade terror?” he told the Montreal Gazette. “This story just expands on that terror.”

9. SCHLAMME AND MYERS WANTED TO MAKE DIFFERENT MOVIES.

In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Schlamme explained that one reason he and Myers clashed was because they had different perspectives. “I thought this movie was for 30-year-old men or older,” he said. “It wasn’t for 12-year-olds. I think once he became the Scottish father and once that process started working and once he became much less secure about the film I was trying to make, the tendency to want to go back to his audience and the tendency to push it to be a more mature film just was in absolute direct conflict with one another.”

10. THE FILM’S SCORE WAS ONLY RECENTLY RELEASED.

According to Art of the Title, the title sequence first used a score composed by Bruce Broughton instead of the Boo Radleys’s cover of “There She Goes.” Broughton’s compositions are peppered in between the movie’s licensed pop songs. Finally in 2013, Intrada Records released all 40 of Broughton’s instrumental songs.

10 Facts About DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story For Its 15th Anniversary

Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Twentieth Century Fox

June 18, 2004 saw the release of two wildly different films in American cinemas: Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and a goofy, cameo-filled, wrench-chucking sports comedy called DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Guess which one came out on top at the box office? The sleeper hit both saluted and skewered the sports movie genre. It also gave Chuck Norris the chance to enjoy a free helicopter ride.

1. Dodgeball's creator was inspired by the book Fast Food Nation.

DodgeBall writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber considered DodgeBall an homage to some of his favorite flicks, including Revenge of the Nerds (1984), Rocky (1976), and Bull Durham (1988). Another source of inspiration was Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, the nonfiction bestseller about the modern obsession with greasy, ready-made cuisine. Published in 2001, Fast Food Nation sold more than 1.4 million copies within five years. It also left plenty of fingerprints on Thurber’s script.

"I really took a cue from that—there's an absolute love/fear relationship thing in our culture," Thurber told Film Freak Central in 2014. "We're so weight conscious, so image conscious, so youth-oriented—and wrapped up with all that psychosis are these ad images of it being so cool and all-American and sexy to eat McDonald's and drink pop and all that. It pulls people in all sorts of different directions, so I wanted [Ben Stiller’s character] White Goodman to be sitting there with a doughnut and the car battery attached to his nipples … That situation with food, with sports, with so much of our culture. [It’s] already almost too surreal to satirize."

2. The movie's actors went through some rigorous training.

To ready themselves for the movie, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and the rest of the actors ran indoor dodgeball drills at what many of them have since described as a “boot camp.” According to Stiller, this basically consisted of “us at a gym a few times a week playing dodgeball.” While that may not sound too intense, the physicality of these sessions took its toll on the performers. “It’s a game for the young,” Stiller said. “It’s one thing when you’re eight, but when you’re 38, it gets really exhausting. After three or four minutes, you’re fried.” Practicing at his side was Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, who plays Kate Veatch of the Average Joe’s squad in DodgeBall.

3. Ben Stiller took Christine Taylor down with a dodgeball ... twice.

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to hit one’s spouse in the face with a rubber ball while playing any sport, but that’s exactly what Stiller did to Christine Taylor—twice. Blow number one came during the boot camp; the second strike occurred while filming the epic Globo Gym/Average Joe’s showdown. The latter ball was intended to strike Vaughn, who reflexively flinched to get out of the way. In any event, Stiller admits that those two incidents put a temporary damper on the couple’s marital harmony “for like a week, because there’s no way to not get upset with somebody after you’ve done that. It just sent us both back to eighth grade." (Though the couple announced that they were divorcing in 2017, the split has never been made official, and the couple is still regularly seen together—sparking rumors of a reconciliation.)

4. Stiller borrowed much of his character's personality from 1995's Heavyweights.

The fact that Stiller borrowed some of White Goodman’s traits from Tony Perkis, the fanatical fat camp owner he played in 1995’s Heavyweights, won’t surprise anyone who has seen both films. DodgeBall’s White Goodman (as played by Stiller) is a bombastic, egomaniacal fitness guru with some inherited wealth and major insecurities. The same description also applies to Perkis. A lighthearted family comedy, Heavyweights didn’t fare well at the box office, grossing a meager $17.6 million. As such, when Stiller copied a few of Perkis’s mannerisms in DodgeBall, he figured that no one would notice.

"I always thought, ‘Well, nobody ever saw Heavyweights, so I can do this,” Stiller recalled. “But a lot of people saw Heavyweights … Apparently, it shows on the Disney Channel a lot or something.” Regarding the two characters, Stiller has said that Perkis is “definitely a first or second cousin” to Goodman.

5. Justin Long suffered a minor concussion on the set.

Justin Long, who plays Justin in the film, took some hard knocks while making this movie. For starters, a prop wrench made with hard rubber left a nasty cut on his eyebrow when Rip Torn, as Patches O’Houlihan, threw it at his face in one scene. Then, while filming another section of DodgeBall’s training montage, the actor was pelted with enough high-speed balls to render him "slightly concussed."

"They didn’t want me to drive home at the end of the day because I was a little off," Long told Today in 2017. “So next time you’re watching that and laughing, know that you’re laughing at my pain.” Still, the experience wasn’t all bad. According to New York Magazine, Long can often be seen riding a scooter adorned with the words “Average Joe’s,” a gift from Stiller.

6. Hank Azaria and Rip Torn didn't even try to synchronize their Patches O'Houlihan voices.

Early in the film, we get to watch an instructional video about dodgeball (and social Darwinism) hosted by a young Patches O’Houlihan, who is played by Hank Azaria. For the remainder of the film, however, it’s Rip Torn who portrays the seven-time ADAA all-star. You may have noticed that the two actors use very different accents in their respective scenes: Azaria, who joined the cast at Stiller’s invitation, called his performance “essentially a bad Clark Gable impression.” At the time, Torn’s sequences hadn’t been shot yet, leading someone in the crew to pipe up and say “You know, it’d be funny if Rip tries to emulate that voice!” “I was like, ‘Yeah, good luck walking up to Rip Torn and suggesting that he change his vocal quality in any way. Let me know how that goes for you,’” Azaria replied.

7. The Average Joe's team colors are an homage to Hoosiers.

Thurber, a fan of David Anspaugh’s Oscar-nominated Hoosiers (1986), tipped his hat to the Hickory Huskers’ red and yellow uniforms by giving the Average Joe’s squad—led by Vince Vaughn’s Pete LaFleur—an almost identical color scheme. 

8. Chuck Norris was reluctant to make a cameo.

The action star’s only scene was shot in Long Beach, California. Geographically speaking, this was problematic for Norris. “I was in L.A. when they asked me to do the cameo,” Norris told Empire Magazine. “I said no at first because it was a three-hour drive to Long Beach.” Hearing this, Stiller called Norris and begged him to reconsider. “He goes, ‘Chuck, please, you’ve got to do this for me!’” Norris recalled, “My wife said he should send a helicopter for me and that's what happened. I didn't read the screenplay, just did my bit where I stick my thumb up.”

After post-production on DodgeBall wrapped and Norris got around to seeing the finished product, he found himself enjoying most of it. However, there was one little moment in the final credits that really caught him off-guard. “In the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, 'F***ing Chuck Norris!' My mouth fell open ... I said, 'Holy mackerel!' That was a shock, Ben didn't tell me about that!"

9. One villain was originally supposed to be a robot.

By far the most mysterious player in the Purple Cobras lineup is Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky, an Eastern European all-star whom Goodman calls “The deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball.” What’s the secret to her success? Well, in an early version of the screenplay, it’s revealed that Fran is actually a robot in disguise. Thurber ended up dropping the gag, which he considered too ridiculous—even by DodgeBall’s standards. However, when Missi Pyle was cast as Fran, the big twist hadn’t yet been cut.

“Initially, in the first script I read, she was a robot, like a sexy-bodied robot” Pyle explained. The original plan was to slowly pan the camera up over a partly-exposed Robo-Fran—with her metallic face and fake breasts on full display—at some point in the climax.

10. Alan Tudyk weighed in on a fan theory about Steve the Pirate.

In 2012, Redditor Maized made the case Steve the Pirate, Alan Tudyk’s swashbuckling oddball, is actually an “ex-Navy sailor who suffers from PTSD.” As evidence, Maized cited Steve’s tattoos, which bear a striking resemblance to those frequently worn by U.S. Naval recruits. In theory, the Average Joe’s patron uses his pirate persona to cope with his condition.

During a 2016 interview with Screen Crush, Tudyk was asked to offer his thoughts on the theory. With a chuckle, Tudyk replied that it “doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.” Emphasizing that he didn’t wish to “insult Navy sailors who have PTSD,” the actor said he’d consider taking the Redditor’s idea into account if a DodgeBall sequel is ever made.

Game of Thrones Director Said He Wanted to 'Kill Everyone' During the Battle of Winterfell

Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Helen Sloan, HBO

Now that Game of Thrones is over, it’s time to talk about the nitty-gritty of the episodes, particularly “The Long Night.” While the Battle of Winterfell may have been nerve-wracking to watch, there ended up being surprisingly fewer deaths than fans expected, considering the living were fighting the entire army of the dead.

Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the episode, was no beginner with battle scenes before taking on “The Long Night,” as he was also responsible season 6's iconic “The Battle of the Bastards” as well as the memorable season 5 episode “Hardhome.” While his list of Game of Thrones accomplishments is long, it turns out that Sapochnik's choices haven't always been in line with what showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss want.

According to IndieWire, Sapochnik’s aesthetic choices, such as the decision to shoot shoot Cersei and Tommen shadowed by prison-like bars to represent Tommen’s imprisonment in season 5, were not favored by the showrunners. “[Benioff and Weiss] said [it was] ‘so self-conscious and we hate it basically,'” Sapochnik revealed at the time. Because of disagreements like this, the pair “visually policed” the director.

There was a difference of opinion between the director and the creators again for “The Long Night,” Sapochnik revealed on IndieWire's Filmmaker's Toolkit podcast. “I wanted to kill everyone,” the director said, as reported by Esquire. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I wanted it to be ruthless, so in the first 10 minutes you could say all bets are off, anyone could die. But David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back-and-forth on that."

Ultimately, Sapochnik gave in to Benioff and Weiss’s plan for the episode, and the Battle of Winterfell had far fewer casualties than most of the series's other battle scenes.

[h/t Esquire]

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