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28 Things You Might Not Have Known About The Royal Tenenbaums

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Like Eli Cash, you probably always wanted to be a Tenenbaum. Here are some facts that will help you fit right into this family of geniuses, on the 15th anniversary of its release.

1. THE PRIMARY STORY CAME OUT OF THE DIVORCE OF WES ANDERSON'S PARENTS.

Though it was partly inspired by real life, writer-director Wes Anderson admits on the film’s DVD commentary that the film itself ended up being very different from his own personal experience. Still, some small details remain, such as the fact that Ethel Tenenbaum is an archeologist, and so was Anderson’s mother. 

2. THE NAME "TENENBAUM" CAME FROM ANDERSON'S COLLEGE FRIEND.

Anderson's longtime friend, Brian Tenenbaum, appears as a paramedic in one of the film’s final scenes. Tenenbaum also appeared in Anderson’s previous films Bottle Rocket and Rushmore in similar background roles.

3. WES ANDERSON MAKES A CAMEO.

It's the filmmaker's hand that stamps the library card of the book at the beginning of the movie.

4. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS IS THE THIRD MOVIE TO BE CO-WRITTEN BY ANDERSON AND OWEN WILSON.

Buena Vista Pictures

The other two were Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. The two writers would be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the movie. 

5. THE MOVIE'S TITLE CARD SCENE WAS INSPIRED BY ANOTHER FILM.

Anderson was inspired to include a title card scene featuring the actors and the characters they play after a similar scene in the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday.  It was the first image for the movie Anderson had in his head.

6. THE MICE WEREN'T ACTUALLY SPOTTED.

Buena Vista Pictures

The spots on Chas Tenenbaum’s fictitious dalmatian mice were created by drawing dots with a sharpie on regular mice.

7. ANDERSON INTENDED MARGOT'S WOODEN FINGER FOR A CHARACTER IN ANOTHER ONE OF HIS FILMS.

Rushmore's Margaret Yang would have had the digit blown off in a science experiment, but it was scrapped and later included in this movie. 

8. THE ROLE OF ROYAL TENENBAUM WAS WRITTEN WITH GENE HACKMAN IN MIND.

But when Anderson approached Hackman to be in the movie, the actor declined because he’d have to work for scale and didn’t like the idea of having a part written exclusively for him. His agent eventually convinced him to take the part. It was well worth it; Hackman would go on to win a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance. 

9. HACKMAN WASN'T THE ONLY ACTOR TO HAVE A ROLE WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM.

Buena Vista Pictures

Anderson and co-screenwriter Wilson specifically wrote the role of Etheline for actress Anjelica Huston. She would go on to work with Anderson again in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

10. THE GO-KART SCENE WITH ROYAL, ARI, AND UZI WAS A NOD TO ANOTHER FILM.

The 1971 film The French Connection featured Hackman (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role) and a legendary car chase sequence.

11. BEN STILLER WAS CAST AS CHAS TENENBAUM BECAUSE HE WAS AN EARLY FAN OF BOTTLE ROCKET.

Stiller liked Anderson's debut movie so much that he cast actor Owen Wilson, who played Dignan in Bottle Rocket, in The Cable Guy, which Stiller directed.

12. MARGOT AND RICHIE HIDING IN A MUSEUM OVERNIGHT WAS INSPIRED BY A CHILDREN'S BOOK.

In E.L. Konigsburg’s 1967 book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, two kids run away from home and stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The book was a favorite of Anderson’s as a child.

13. THE ACTOR WHO PLAYS YOUNG RICHIE HAS A FAMOUS DAD.

Buena Vista Pictures

Amedeo Turturro is the son of actor John Turturro

14. ANDERSON'S BROTHER CHIPPED IN TO HELP ON THE FILM.

Eric Chase Anderson is an illustrator; he created all of Young Richie’s drawings.

15. THE BB LODGED IN CHAS'S HAND IS BASED ON A REAL-LIFE INCIDENT.

Buena Vista Pictures

Owen Wilson shot his older brother Andrew in the hand with a BB gun when they were younger, and the hand with the BB in it shown in the movie is actually Andrew Wilson's. This isn’t his only appearance in the movie; he can also be seen as Margot’s biological Amish father and as the voice of one of the sports commentators who covers Richie’s tennis match meltdown (the other commentator’s voice is actually Wes Anderson). Wilson also played Future Man in Bottle Rocket and Coach Beck in Rushmore.

16. RICHIE'S FALCON, MORDECAI, WAS PLAYED BY THREE FALCONS AND A HAWK.

The falcons were used for close-up shots and the hawk was used for the longer flying scenes, like at the end of the film’s prologue. 

17. BILL MURRAY'S CHARACTER, RALEIGH ST. CLAIR, IS BASED ON NOTED NEUROLOGIST AND WRITER OLIVER SACKS.

Buena Vista Pictures

Anderson was a big fan of Sacks’s four-part documentary from 1998 called The Mind Traveler.

18. RALEIGH'S RESEARCH SUBJECT, DUDLEY, WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYED BY ANDERSON'S FRIEND AND ACTOR, WALLY WOLODARSKY.

But Wolodarsky dropped out in order to direct his own movie, Sorority Boys. Wolodarsky had previously appeared in Anderson’s movies as a wrestling referee in Rushmore, and would go on to appear as Brendan in The Darjeeling Limited, as the voice of Kylie in Fantastic Mr. Fox, and as M. Georges in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

To replace Wolodarsky, Anderson cast actor Stephen Lea Sheppard, who was recommended to him by Anderson’s friend and fellow director Judd Apatow. Sheppard was previously in Apatow’s TV show Freaks and Geeks.

19. ANDERSON WAS A BIG DANNY GLOVER FAN.

Buena Vista Pictures

The director cast the actor because he liked his performances in To Sleep with Anger, Beloved, and Witness. The name of Glover’s character, Henry Sherman, is the name of Wes Anderson’s old New York landlord, who wore blue suits similar to the ones Glover’s character wears in the movie.

20. GLOVER ISN'T THE ONLY LINK THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS HAS TO THE MOVIE WITNESS.

The line “I know you, a**hole!” that Royal screams at Eli Cash as he escapes from the house is the same exact line that Harrison Ford’s character says to Glover’s character in Witness. 

21. 111 ARCHER AVENUE ISN'T REAL, BUT THE TENENBAUMS' HOUSE IS.

It’s located at 144th Street and Convent Avenue in New York City. The production used both the exterior and the interior of the house for the movie (the only interior of the house in the movie that isn’t from the real-life location is the kitchen scene between Royal and Henry Sherman, which was shot in the house next door because it had windows). The production convinced the owner of the house, who had recently bought it in foreclosure, to delay moving in so they could renovate it as they needed. It's believed that the production paid the owner roughly the same amount the owner had paid to buy it, so the owner effectively got the house for free. 

22. THE LINDBERG PALACE HOTEL, WHERE ROYAL STAYS, ISN'T REAL EITHER.

Buena Vista Pictures

The location for the hotel was the actual exterior and lobby of the Waldorf Astoria in New York. The hotel only gave Anderson and the production two hours to get all of the shots they needed.

23. THOUGH THE MOVIE WAS SHOT IN NEW YORK, ANDERSON DIDN'T WANT TO INCLUDE ANY NYC LANDMARKS IN THE FILM.

During the scene where Pagoda meets Royal near the water, Anderson intentionally positioned the actor playing Pagoda (Kumar Pallana, who also appeared in Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited) to stand directly in front of the Statue of Liberty.

24. ONE OF RICHIE'S LINES CAME FROM ANOTHER FILM.

Richie’s seemingly bizarre line “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow,” immediately before trying to take his own life, is actually a line Anderson took verbatim from director Louis Malle’s 1963 film Le feu follet (a.k.a. The Fire Within). Spoiler: In that film, the main character actually does kill himself the day after uttering the line. 

25. RICHIE AND MARGOT'S ROMANCE IS A REFERENCE TO A FRENCH FILM.

Buena Vista Pictures

The semi-incestuous subplot is Anderson’s nod to director Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1950 film Les enfants terribles about a similar relationship between an actual brother and sister. In Tenenbaums, of course, Margot is adopted.

26. THE MOVIE PARODIES AUTHOR CORMAC MCCARTHY.

The excerpt that Eli Cash reads from his book, Old Custer, is Anderson’s parody of the style and subject matter of writer Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of books like No Country for Old Men, The Road, and Blood Meridian

27. CHAS WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO WEAR A BLACK ADIDAS TRACK SUIT EACH TIME HE WENT TO THE CEMETERY.

Buena Vista Pictures

But Ben Stiller thought it would be a funnier reveal if he only wore it at Royal’s funeral.

28. ONE OF THE FINAL SHOTS IN THE MOVIE WAS DONE IN A SINGLE TAKE.

The technically complex shot moves from person to person after Eli crashes his car at the wedding. The production did 20 takes of the shot; take 18 is the take included in the final movie. 

Additional Sources: Blu-ray special features; The Wes Anderson Collection.

Screenshots courtesy of Film-Grab.com and LeaveMetheWhite.com.

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks

Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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