10 Nice and Accurate Facts About Good Omens

HarperCollins
HarperCollins

After decades of waiting, fans of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch will finally get to lay their eyes upon an adaptation of the classic work of comic fantasy. Later this year, all your favorite Good Omens characters—the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), his demon BFF Crowley (David Tennant), pre-teen Antichrist Adam (Sam Taylor Buck), the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and more will appear on Amazon Prime and BBC Two. Before you watch it, here are some facts about the original, award-winning 1990 book.

1. It’s been adapted before.

The road to get Good Omens to the screen has been an arduous one (more on that later), but in 2015 a radio adaptation was broadcast on BBC 4. Among the cast were Mark Heap (Spaced), Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead), Louise Brealey (Sherlock), and Colin Morgan (Merlin).

2. Terry Gilliam was working on a movie adaptation for ages.

The Oscar-nominated director of Brazil and Time Bandits was working on a Good Omens adaptation for years. Per an interview with Gaiman, it finally fell apart due to bad timing, i.e., Gilliam pitched Hollywood financiers shortly after 9/11.

"[Terry] said, 'Hilarious movie about the Antichrist and the end of the world,' and they said, 'Please go away, you're scaring us,'' Gaiman told The Empire Film Podcast in 2013.

3. Johnny Depp and Robin Williams almost starred in the Good Omens movie.

When Terry Gilliam was still onboard the Good Omens movie, he had his eye on Johnny Depp for the demon Crowley and Robin Williams for Aziraphale. In the new miniseries, they're played by David Tennant and Michael Sheen, respectively.

4. There was almost a film version very different from the book.

In 1992, two years after the book’s publication, Gaiman wrote a Good Omens script for Sovereign Pictures, who had requested he write something with some of the same characters but substantial plot differences. "Set in America, no Four Horsemen … oh god," was Pratchett's take on what the film would have been like. Fortunately for the writers, Sovereign went bankrupt and Gaiman and Pratchett got the film rights back.

5. It was nominated for a religious fiction award.

In Good Omens, Gaiman and Pratchett take a comic approach to religion that is, per Gaiman, "blasphemous against religious order, as blasphemous as you can get." Still, it ended up being embraced by some religious leaders. "When Terry and I wrote it we half-expected book burnings and bricks through our windows, and instead we were nominated for (but did not win) a religious fiction award," Gaiman wrote in 2013.

6. A sequel was in the works.

Certain elements from the Good Omens show are taken from a sequel that Gaiman and Pratchett talked about but never wrote. "There are a lot of characters whom I borrowed from the sequel, and had them do the things they would have done [in the sequel, but] earlier," Gaiman explained. "[The Archangel] Gabriel [played by Jon Hamm] is a prime example."

7. One interviewer didn't realize the book was fiction.

For the first radio interview Gaiman and Pratchett did to promote the book, the radio host didn’t realize the book was fiction and instead assumed that the the pair had unearthed actual prophecies predicting the end of the world. "Once we realized, it was great fun," Pratchett recalled. “We could take over the interview, since we knew he didn’t know enough stop us."

8. Neil Gaiman WAS RELUCTANT to adapt the book without Terry Pratchett.

Pratchett passed away 2015, leaving the future of any Good Omens adaptation—which Gaiman had previously said he didn’t want to do without Pratchett—up in the air. However, Pratchett wrote a letter shortly before he died giving Gaiman his blessing to continue without him. "I would very much like this to happen, and I know, Neil, that you’re very very busy, but no one else could ever do it with the passion that we share for the old girl," Pratchett wrote. "I wish I could be more involved and I will help in any way I can."

9. The American edition was originally longer.

The first American edition of Good Omens had about 700 more words than the British hardback. Pratchett explained that the book’s American publisher requested a passage on what happened to Warlock—the child who everyone thinks is the Anti-Christ, but who is actually a normal 11-year-old boy (there was a switch at the hospital).

“He was an American boy, you see, and she was certain that Americans would want to know what had happened to him. So we said OK, and wrote it. To the best of my recollection that was the biggest change, although there were other minor additions.” The Brits finally got that extra Good Omens sweetness once the UK paperback was set from the U.S. manuscript.

10. Floppy disks were an integral part of the Good Omens collaboration.

Pratchett and Gaiman collaborated on Good Omens by mailing floppy disks back and forth to one another. "This was back in 1988 when floppy disks really were pretty darn floppy," Gaiman wrote of the process. Initially, Pratchett focused on writing most of the stuff surrounding Adam and his friends while Gaiman focused on the Four Horsemen bits. By the time they were finished, they had both worked on everything and it was hard to know what belonged to who.

8 Gonzo Facts About Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson in Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson (2008)
Hunter S. Thompson in Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson (2008)
Magnolia Pictures

Like any real-life legend, there are many myths surrounding the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson. But in Thompson’s case, most of those stories—particularly the more outlandish ones—are absolutely true. The founder of the “Gonzo journalism” movement is one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century. Here are some things you might not have known about the eccentric writer, who was born on July 18, 1937.

1. Hunter S. Thompson was named after a famous Scottish surgeon.

Hunter S. Thompson was reportedly named after one of his mother’s ancestors, a Scottish surgeon named Nigel John Hunter. But Hunter wasn't just your run-of-the-mill surgeon. In a 2004 interview with the Independent, Thompson brought along a copy of The Reluctant Surgeon, a Biography of Nigel John Hunter, a biography of his namesake, which read: "A gruff Scotsman, Hunter has been described as the most important naturalist between Aristotle and Darwin, the Shakespeare of medicine and the greatest man the British ever produced. He was the first to trace the lymphatic system. He performed the first human artificial insemination. He was the greatest collector of anatomical specimens in history. He prescribed the orthopaedic shoe that allowed Lord Byron to walk."

When pressed about what that description had to do with him, Thompson responded: "Well, I guess that might be the secret of my survival. Good genes."

2. Hunter S. Thompson missed his high school graduation ... because he was in jail.

Just a few weeks before he was set to graduate from high school, at the age of 17, Thompson was charged as an accessory to robbery and sentenced to 60 days in jail.

“One night Ralston Steenrod, who was in the Athenaeum with Hunter, was driving, and Hunter and another guy he knew were in the car,” Thompson’s childhood friend Neville Blakemore recalled of the incident. “As they were driv­ing through Cherokee Park, the other guy said, ‘Stop. I want to bum a ciga­rette from that car.’ People used to go park and neck at this spot. And the guy got out and apparently went back and mugged them. The guy who was mugged got their license number and traced the car, and within a very short time they were all three arrested.

“Just before this Hunter had been blamed for a nighttime gas-station rob­bery,” Blakemore added, “and before that he and some friends got arrested for buying booze under­age at Abe's Liquor Store on Frankfort Avenue by the tracks. So Hunter had a record, and he was already on probation. He was given an ultimatum: jail or the military. And Hunter took the Air Force. He didn't graduate with his class.”

3. Hunter S. Thompson's fellow journalist coined the term gonzo.


Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

While covering the 1968 New Hampshire primary, Thompson met fellow writer and editor Bill Carodoso, editor of The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, which is where Thompson first heard him use the word “Gonzo.” “It meant sort of ‘crazy’ or ‘off-the-wall,’” Thompson said in Anita Thompson’s Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson. Two years later, in June 1970, Thompson wrote an article for Scanlan’s Monthly entitled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” which became a game-changing moment in journalism because of its offbeat, slightly manic style that was written with first-person subjectivity.

Among the many fellow journalists who praised Thompson for the piece was Cardoso, who sent a letter to Thompson that “said something like, ‘Forget all the sh*t you’ve been writing, this is it; this is pure Gonzo.’ Gonzo. Yeah, of course. That’s what I was doing all the time. Of course, I might be crazy.” Thompson ran with the word, and would use it himself for the first time a year later, in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

4. Hunter S. Thompson typed out famous novels to learn the art of writing.

In order to get the “feel” of being a writer, Thompson used to retype his favorite novels in full. “[H]is true model and hero was F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Louis Menand wrote in The New Yorker. “He used to type out pages from The Great Gatsby, just to get the feeling, he said, of what it was like to write that way, and Fitzgerald’s novel was continually on his mind while he was working on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was published, after a prolonged and agonizing compositional nightmare, in 1972.”

"If you type out somebody's work, you learn a lot about it,” Thompson said in 1997. “Amazingly it's like music. And from typing out parts of Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald—these were writers that were very big in my life and the lives of the people around me—so yeah, I wanted to learn from the best I guess."

5. Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff in Colorado.

In 1970, Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado on what he called the Freak Power ticket. Among his political tactics: shaving his head so that he could refer to his opponent as his “long-haired opponent,” promising to eat mescaline while on duty, and campaigning to rename Aspen “Fat City” to deter "greed heads, land-rapers, and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name 'Aspen.'" Unfortunately, he lost.

6. Hunter S. Thompson stole a memento from Ernest Hemingway.

In 1964, three years after Ernest Hemingway committed suicide at his cabin in Ketchum, Idaho, Thompson traveled to the late author’s home in order to write “What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?” While there, according to his widow, Hunter “got caught up in the moment” and took “a big pair of elk horns over the front door.” In 2016, more than a decade after Thompson’s death, Anita returned the antlers to the Hemingway family—which is something she and Hunter had always planned to do. “They were warm and kind of tickled … they were so open and grateful, there was no weirdness,” Anita said.

7. Hunter S. Thompson once used the inside of musician John Oates's colorado cabin as his personal parking space.


Magnolia Pictures

Earlier this month, musician John Oates—the latter half of Hall & Oates—shared a story about his ranch in Woody Creek, Colorado, just outside of Aspen, which is currently on the market for $6 million. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Oates recalled how when he first purchased the cabin, there was a red convertible parked inside. “I happened to ask the real estate agent who owned the convertible, and he said ‘your neighbor Hunter Thompson,’” Oates said. “Why is he keeping his car in a piece of property he doesn’t own? The real estate agent looked at me and said ‘It’s Woody Creek, you’ll figure this out. It’s a different kind of place.’” After sending several letters to his neighbor to retrieve his vehicle, Oates took matters into his own hands and deposited the car on Thompson’s lawn. Oates said that the two became friends, but never mentioned the incident.

8. Hunter S. Thompson's ashes were shot out of a cannon at his funeral.

On February 20, 2005—at the age of 67—Thompson committed suicide. But Thompson wasn’t about to leave this world quietly. In August of that year, in accordance with his wishes, Thompson's ashes were shot into the air from a cannon while fireworks filled the sky.

“He loved explosions," his widow, Anita, told ESPN, which wrote that, “The private celebration included actors Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, rock bands, blowup dolls and plenty of liquor to honor Thompson, who killed himself six months ago at the age of 67.”

J.K. Rowling Reveals How San Francisco Inspired Major Harry Potter Location

Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images
Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

The award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is about to open at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. The two-part drama takes place 19 years after the events in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and depicts Harry’s life as his son, Albus, is about to begin school at Hogwarts.

J.K. Rowling has pointed out that San Francisco had a deep influence on the original Harry Potter novels, SFGate reports. In the video below, Rowling talks about how Alcatraz, the infamous former prison, inspired her creation of Azkaban.

"[San Francisco] is a very distinctive, special place—I love the feel of it, I love the architecture,” Rowling said. “I've actually said this before, but Azkaban is a combination of Alcatraz and Abbadon, which is an old word for hell. I squeezed those words together. The idea of the rock in the middle of the ocean was directly inspired by a visit to Alcatraz."

With its mist and Gothic mood, it’s no wonder this slice of San Francisco inspired a big part of the Harry Potter world.

[h/t SFGate]

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