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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
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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.”

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15 Fascinating Facts About Amelia Earhart
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Amelia Earhart was a pioneer, a legend, and a mystery. To celebrate what would be her 120th birthday, we've uncovered 15 things you might not know about the groundbreaking aviator.

1. THE FIRST TIME SHE SAW AN AIRPLANE, SHE WASN'T IMPRESSED.

In Last Flight, a collection of diary entries published posthumously, Earhart recalled feeling unmoved by "a thing of rusty wire and wood" at the Iowa State Fair in 1908. It wasn't until years later that she discovered her passion for aviation, when she worked as a nurse's aide at Toronto's Spadina Military Hospital. She and some friends would spend time at hangars and flying fields, talking to pilots and watching aerial shows. Earhart didn't actually get on a plane herself until 1920, and even then she was just a passenger.

2. SHE WAS A GOOD STUDENT WITH NO PATIENCE FOR SCHOOL.

After working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment in Toronto, Earhart took pre-med classes at Columbia University in 1919. She made good grades, but dropped out after just a year. Earhart re-enrolled at Columbia in 1925 and left school again. She took summer classes at Harvard, but gave up on higher education for good after she didn't get a scholarship to MIT.

3. ANOTHER PIONEERING FEMALE AVIATOR TAUGHT EARHART HOW TO FLY.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Neta Snook was the first woman to run her own aviation business and commercial airfield. She gave Earhart flying lessons at Kinner Field near Long Beach, California in 1921, reportedly charging $1 in Liberty Bonds for every minute they spent in the air.

4. EARHART BOUGHT HER FIRST PLANE WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF HER FIRST FLYING LESSON.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

She named it The Canary. The used yellow Kinner Airster biplane was the second one ever built. Earhart paid $2000 for it, despite Snook's opinion that it was underpowered, overpriced, and too difficult for a beginner to land.

5. AMY EARHART ENCOURAGED HER DAUGHTER'S PASSION. HER FATHER, ON THE OTHER HAND, WAS AFRAID OF FLYING.

Earhart's mom used some of her inheritance to pay for The Canary. She was a bit of an adventurer herself: the first woman to ever climb Pikes Peak in Colorado.

6. EARHART HAD A LOT OF ODD JOBS.

In addition to volunteering as a nurse's aide, Earhart also worked early jobs as a telephone operator and tutor. Earhart was a social worker at Denison House in Boston when she was invited to fly across the Atlantic for the first time (as a passenger) in 1928. At the height of her career, Earhart spent time making speeches, writing articles, and providing career counseling at Purdue University's Department of Aeronautics. Oh, and flying around the world.

7. SHE WASN'T SURE ABOUT MARRIAGE, BUT SHE DEFINITELY BELIEVED IN PRE-NUPS.

When promoter George Putnam contacted Earhart about flying across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, it was her first big break ... and the beginning of their love story. The two began a working relationship, which soon turned into attraction. When Putnam's marriage to Dorothy Binney fell apart, he eventually proposed to Earhart. She said yes, albeit reluctantly.

Earhart wasn't worried about safeguarding financial assets so much as she wanted the two of them to maintain separate identities. Earhart asked Putnam to agree to a trial marriage. If they weren't happy after a year, they'd be free to go their separate ways, no hard feelings. He agreed. They lived happily until her disappearance.

8. SHE WROTE ABOUT FLYING FOR COSMOPOLITAN.

In 1928, Earhart was appointed Cosmopolitan's Aviation Editor. Her 16 published articles—among them "Shall You Let Your Daughter Fly?" and "Why Are Women Afraid to Fly?"—recounted her adventures and encouraged other women to fly, even if they just did so commercially. (Commercial flights date back to 1914, but they wouldn't really take off until after World War II.)

9. FIRST LADY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT WAS SO INSPIRED BY EARHART THAT SHE SIGNED UP FOR FLYING LESSONS.

The two became friends in 1932. Roosevelt got a student permit and a physical examination, but never followed through with her plan.

10. EARHART WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO GET A PILOT'S LICENSE FROM THE NATIONAL AERONAUTIC ASSOCIATION (NAA).

That was in 1923, when pilots and aircrafts weren't legally required to be licensed. Earhart was the sixteenth woman to get licensed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which was required to set flight records. Still, the FAI didn't maintain women's records until 1928.

11. SHE ACCOMPLISHED A LOT OF "FIRSTS."

Earhart eventually became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger (1928) and then solo (1932) and nonstop from coast to coast (1932) as a pilot. She also set records, period: Earhart was the first person to ever fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, Los Angeles to Mexico City, and Mexico City to Newark, all in 1935.

What do John Glenn, George H.W. Bush, and Amelia Earhart have in common? They all earned an Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross. But only Earhart was the first woman—and one of few civilians—to do so.

12. SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST CELEBRITIES TO LAUNCH A CLOTHING LINE.

Amelia Earhart Fashions were affordable separates sold exclusively at Macy's and Marshall Field's. The line's dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats were made of cotton and parachute silk and featured aviation-inspired details, like propeller-shaped buttons. Earhart studied sewing as a girl and actually made her own samples.

13. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SPENT $4 MILLION SEARCH FOR EARHART.

At the time, it was the most expensive air and sea search in history. Earhart's plane disappeared July 2, 1937. The official search ended a little over two weeks later on July 19. Putnam then financed a private search, chartering boats to the Phoenix Islands, Christmas Island, Fanning Island, the Gilbert Islands, and the Marshall Islands.

14. THE SEARCH ISN'T OVER.

There are several theories about what happened to Earhart's plane during her last flight. Most people believe she ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Others believe she landed on an island and died of thirst, starvation, injury, or at the hands of Japanese soldiers in Saipan. In 1970, one man even claimed that Earhart was alive and well and living a secret life in New Jersey.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has explored the theory that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan lived as castaways before dying on Gardner Island, now called Nikumaroro, in the western Pacific. Over the years, they've found a few potential artifacts, including evidence of campfire sites, pieces of Plexiglas, and an empty jar of the brand of freckle cream that Earhart used.

In early July 2017, a photo surfaced that seemed to confirm the theory that Earhart and Noonan crashed and were captured by Japanese soldiers, but that photo was quickly debunked.

15. TODAY, ANOTHER AMELIA EARHART IS MAKING HISTORY.

In 2014, another pilot named Amelia Earhart took to the skies to set a world record. The then-31-year-old California native became the youngest woman to fly 24,300 miles around the world in a single-engine plane. Her namesake never completed the journey, but the younger Earhart landed safely in Oakland on July 11, 2014. We think "Lady Lindy" would be proud.

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