CLOSE
Original image

15 Fun Facts About True Lies

Original image

Digital Domain

Arnold Schwarzenegger became a bonafide action superstar in the 1980s with films like Commando, Predator, Terminator, and the Conan films. By the early 1990s, the former Mr. Olympia had established himself as a guy who could both pump iron and tickle funny bones, with box-office hits like Twins and Kindergarten Cop. But nowhere was Arnold ever as tough and funny as when James Cameron’s True Lies hit the big screen in the summer of 1994. The film turns 20 today, so let's celebrate with some fun facts about the movie.

1. The film is based on Claude Zidi’s 1991 French film comedy La Totale! The original film has plenty in common with Cameron’s feature, from overall plot to small character details—for instance, the character of Simon (played in Zidi’s film by Michel Boujenah, with Bill Paxton taking on the part in Cameron’s film) is a sleazy car dealer in both films.

2. There are, of course, some differences between the two features. In Zidi’s film, the bad guys are intent on blowing up a French football stadium, while Cameron’s villains set their sights on bombing downtown Miami.

3. True Lies was reportedly the very first film to have a production budget that exceeded $100 million.

4. Schwarzenegger almost died on the set of the film, when a horse he was riding during one of the film’s most memorable action sequences got spooked by a camera boom and started rearing up near the edge of a very steep drop (the actor estimates it was about 90 feet to the ground). Arnold managed to slip off the horse in time, and a stunt man pulled him to safety.

5. True Lies is actually an Oscar nominee: The film’s visual effects team (John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis and Patrick McClung) were nominated for an Academy Award for their work on the film. They lost to Forrest Gump.

6. In 2010, a rumor spread that Cameron was interested in developing the film into a new television series, joining another long-standing rumor that Cameron and Schwarzenegger were planning a cinematic sequel. Neither has come to pass, and Cameron promises that he’s not working on anything new in the True Lies universe.

7. The film was the top-earning R-rated new release of 1994, making $146.2 million at the domestic box office. The film edged out Speed for the honor, which made $121.2 million in U.S. release, despite the fact that it was in theaters for an entire month longer than True Lies.

8. True Lies was number one at the box office for just one week. When the film hit theaters in July 1994, it bumped Forrest Gump from the top spot that the Robert Zemeckis film had earned just the week before, when it was first released in U.S. theaters. Gump was back in the top spot the following week.

9. Jamie Lee Curtis refused to let a body double film the scene in which her character (Helen) is dangling off of a helicopter over the ocean. The actress did the stunt herself—and on her birthday, no less.

10. Curtis didn’t just do her own stuntwork; she also brought her own wardrobe. The bra and underwear set she wears during Helen’s famous striptease scene were her own.

11. James Cameron’s voice makes an appearance in the film. During the car chase scene with Simon, Helen, and the helicopters, it’s Cameron who yells, "Yeah, she's got her head in his lap, yahoo!" when Curtis tries to hide her face.

12. Schwarzenegger may have been very comfortable with the action sequences, but he needed extra help in a different area—he had to take tango lessons prior to filming, to give his Harry Tasker all those smooth moves on the dance floor.

13. Although Schwarzenegger was always going to play Harry, Helen could have been someone quite different. Jodie Foster was originally cast in the role, which she had to turn down when she signed on for the lead in Nell.

14. Other Hollywood starlets who were rumored for the Helen part included Rosanna Arquette, Annette Bening, Geena Davis, Madonna, Sharon Stone, Lea Thompson, Debra Winger, Kim Basinger, Joan Cusack, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Emma Thompson.

15. Three of the jets in the film are actual military fighter jets. Producers rented out three Marine Harriers (and their pilots) from the U.S. government for shooting. Total fee? Just over $100,000, figured from a $2410 hourly rate.

Original image
IFC Films
arrow
entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
Original image
IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

Original image
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow
arrow
fun
Play the Sneakers Computer Press Kit from 1992
Original image
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

In September 1992, the computer hacking movie Sneakers hit theaters. To correspond with its launch, members of the press received a floppy disk containing a mysterious DOS program that, when launched, asked for a password. Once the reporters "hacked" their way in, they found the Sneakers Computer Press Kit. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can play at being the film press of 1992.

It's hard to characterize exactly what this electronic press kit is. Is it a game? Sort of. It's essentially a very gentle computer hacking simulator, in which the "hacking" consists entirely of guessing passwords (complete with helpful prompts from the program itself), and the payload you discover is silly stuff like mini-biographies of Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, and Sidney Poitier. Still, it's a good match for the film itself, which helped set the template for Hollywood depictions of computer hacking.

A paper folder lies open on a wooden floor, with a black floppy disk on top. The folder is labeled SNEAKERS in giant red letters, as is the floppy. Inside the folder is printed material. On the right flap of the folder are instructions on how to load it.
Inside the Sneakers Computer Press Kit's paper folder. (The right flap contains installation instructions, along with a note that the studio will FedEx printed material if the user doesn't have access to a printer.)
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

Always remember: "My voice is my passport. Verify me." Now, get cracking on this press kit and don't be flummoxed—if you can't figure out a password right away, just wait a moment.

(Incidentally, Sneakers did also include printed materials for the press, in case they lacked a computer and/or the patience to deal with this approach. But who in the world would look at that, when they could play with this? There's also a method in the Computer Press Kit that allows the user to print out more detailed materials—provided they have a printer, and it's attached to a particular printer port on the computer.)

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios