10 Memorable Facts About The Big Chill

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

If you trace back the origin of every movie of the modern era where adult friends hang out and strive to find personal profundity within stifling middle-class banalities, you’ll hit pay dirt in 1983. The Big Chill, Lawrence Kasdan’s serious comedy (funny drama?), features one of the best ensembles of the past half-century slogging through midlife crises.

Named a cultural artifact the first day it hit theaters, decades later it’s now considered both a hilarious, potent examination of a disillusioned group who grew from free love into “Greed is good” and a bougie whine of Baby Boomer privilege.

In celebration of The Big Chill’s 35th anniversary, here are 10 facts about having too much sex, friendship, and fun to handle.

1. EVERY STUDIO WANTED LAWRENCE KASDAN, BUT NOT HIS MOVIE.

After writing The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lawrence Kasdan got a chance to direct his own script with 1981's Body Heat. After its success, a lot of studios wanted to draft him onto their teams, but when he said he wanted to make a dialogue-heavy ensemble movie about complicated old relationships clashing after a mutual friend’s suicide, they weren’t super keen. In fact, no one wanted it.

2. KASDAN WROTE IT WITH HIS LAWYER’S WIFE.

Barbara Benedek had written a handful of episodes for a handful of TV shows when Kasdan—who was represented by Benedek’s husband—called her up and asked out of the blue to write a script together. "I didn’t know enough to say anything other than 'Sure!'" Benedek told Entertainment Weekly in 1998. "He wanted to collaborate with a woman, and he thought I was funny." Obviously, "Sure!" is the only correct answer when Kasdan asks that question. In 1984, they scored a joint Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

3. KEVIN COSTNER PLAYS A DEAD BODY.

The entire movie revolves around the suicide of Alex Marshall, an unseen college friend linking all the other characters together. Alex was originally in the film for one scene, but Kasdan cut it, effectively removing a young Kevin Costner from the movie except for one sequence where he lies motionless as Alex’s body is prepped for the funeral.

4. COSTNER ALMOST APPEARED IN THE FILM WITH A METAPHORICAL TURKEY.

Costner’s cut flashback scene is famously part of the movie’s lore because of how famous he became. There’s no known surviving copy of the scene, but luckily we have Jeff Goldblum to describe it for us. The scene involves the college era crew eating Thanksgiving together and Alex considering whether he can cut into a perfect, whole turkey—which Goldblum described as “poetical and metaphorical”—with a large knife. The turkey was, of course, a symbol for the untouched, unchallenged lives the young, success track kids have experienced with an added somber note echoing how we know he will end his life in the future.

5. THE CAST COOKED A MEAL TOGETHER TO PREPARE FOR FILMING.

Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams in The Big Chill (1983)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Watching the cast of The Big Chill onscreen, it feels like they’ve all been friends forever. That’s the greatest triumph of the acting. The fictional bond was solidified by a lengthy rehearsal in which Kasdan told Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams to cook a meal together in character so they’d have a common goal with different jobs to do.

“I chose to leave at that point,” Kasdan told TCM. “And for five hours they remained in character without any authority figure, without any director to tell them if they were behaving or reacting in the correct way according to the writer’s or director’s ideas."

6. THE CHARACTERS WERE BASED ON PEOPLE KASDAN MET WHILE LIVING IN A CO-OP.

The co-writer/director drew from his experience boarding at the Eugene V. Debs Cooperative House at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to color in the characters who, for the weekend, are essentially living a co-op experience.

"I think that all these characters are conglomerations of things in [me and Benedek] and things we’ve seen in our friends,” Kasdan said.

7. IT CONTRIBUTED TO GLENN CLOSE MAKING SOME ACTING HISTORY.

Glenn Close in The Big Chill (1983)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Everyone’s obsessed with EGOTing, but with an Oscar nomination for The Big Chill, a Tony nomination (and win) for The Real Thing, and an Emmy nomination for Something About Amelia, Close became the first actress to score all three major acting award nominations in a single calendar year. That’s a feat even fewer people have pulled off than the EGOT. Bob Fosse did it with directing and choreography in 1973, and Jason Robards became the first actor to do it in 1978. Unfortunately, she didn’t win the Oscar—and never has, despite six nominations (so far).

8. CLOSE WAS HUMBLE ABOUT BEING SINGLED OUT OF THE ENSEMBLE FOR AN OSCAR NOD.

Despite making history, Close had a level head about her Academy Award recognition because she was part of an ensemble. "I think my crying-in-the-shower scene had something to do with it," she recently told Entertainment Weekly. "Hollywood loves to see naked. Naked or dead."

9. AN OCTOPUS ACTS AS A SUBTLE SYMBOL.

Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger, and William Hurt in The Big Chill (1983)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

If we only saw an octopus once in the movie, it might be a happy accident, but there are at least two times that a soft-bodied cephalopod appears on a TV screen in the massive home the friends are sharing. You don’t have to dig too deeply to see the connection: eight limbs, eight friends, all interconnected and living (for the time we spend with them) as a single unit.

10. THE KASDAN FAMILY MAKES A CAMEO. 

Kasdan didn’t have to look far for some of the bit roles in the movie. His adolescent sons, Jonathan and Jake, each made their acting debuts in the movie. Jonathan played Harold (Kline) and Sarah’s (Close) son, and Jake played a young fan seeking TV action star Sam’s (Tom Berenger) autograph. Both have gone on to careers as writer/directors. Kasdan’s wife Meg played a flight attendant. In 1992, she would go on to earn an Oscar nomination for co-writing Grand Canyon with her husband.

Welcome to the Party, Pal: A Die Hard Board Game is Coming

Win McNamee, Getty Images
Win McNamee, Getty Images

On the heels of the 30th anniversary of the classic Bruce Willis action film Die Hard last year, tabletop board game company The OP has announced that John McClane will once again battle his way through Nakatomi Plaza. Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist is a board game officially licensed by Fox Consumer Products that will drop players into a setting familiar to anyone who has seen the film: As New York cop McClane tries to reconcile with his estranged wife, he must navigate a team of cutthroat thieves set on overtaking a Los Angeles high-rise.

The box art for the 'Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist' board game is pictured
The OP

The game is expected to have a one-against-many format, with one player assuming the role of McClane and the other players conspiring as the thieves to eliminate him from the Plaza.

The OP, also known as USAOpoly, has previously created games based on Avengers: Infinity War and the Harry Potter franchise. Die Hard has spawned four sequels, the latest being 2013’s A Good Day to Die Hard. Willis will likely return as McClane for a sixth installment that will alternate between the present day and his rookie years in the NYPD. That film has no release date set.

The board game is expected to arrive this spring.

[h/t MovieWeb]

Ralph Fiennes Doesn’t Want to See Anyone Else Play Voldemort

WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. // HARRY POTTER PUBLISHING RIGHTS J.K.R
WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. // HARRY POTTER PUBLISHING RIGHTS J.K.R

Who knew actor Ralph Fiennes would be so possessive of his Voldemort role from the Harry Potter movies? After all the hours sitting in a makeup chair, putting on a bald cap, and making his nose disappear day after day, you’d think Fiennes would be ok with never playing this evil character again—especially considering that he almost turned down the role in the first place. But it seems that the character really grew on the two-time Oscar nominee. As Screen Rant reports, Fiennes has made it clear that if Voldemort is ever needed in a future film, he's ready to come back.

“Well, there are variants, aren’t there? Fantastic Beasts and things. I feel a kind of affection for Voldemort," Fiennes said while appearing on Newsnight. "So if there was a world in which Voldemort came back, I would be very possessive about wanting to reprise that."

Voldemort coming back was always a lingering danger in the early Harry Potter books and movies, as fans waited eagerly to see the Dark Lord reborn and return to full power. It was definitely worth the wait when we were finally able to watch Voldemort return toward the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book—and movie—in the series.

As of right now though, it's uncertain whether Fiennes will ever get the chance to reprise his role. The only movies exploring the Wizarding World currently are the Fantastic Beasts films, which take place in 1927. Voldemort was born in 1926, so even if there would be a substantial time jump, Fiennes might be too old to play Voldemort. But at least we know that he is dedicated to the character, and that if Voldemort ever did come back, fans could count on him to jump right back into the role.

[h/t: Screen Rant]

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