16 Totally Awesome Facts About Point Break
Before you ride that last wave during the 50-year storm, see if you know everything about Point Break. As always, vaya con dios.
1. THE STORY WAS CONCEIVED IN AN APPROPRIATE PLACE.
Co-producer Rick King (who also has a “Story by” credit on the movie) first came up with the idea for the movie while lounging on the beach. He had been given an LA Weekly article about Los Angeles being the robbery capital of America and dreamed up a movie about an FBI agent infiltrating a surf gang that robs banks to fuel their fun.
2. WRITING THE SCRIPT WASN’T THE SCREENWRITER’S ONLY JOB.
King recruited screenwriter W. Peter Iliff to pen the script for only $6000. Since the pay was paltry, Iliff had to wait tables at a restaurant during the day before going home to write the script for Point Break at night.
3. THE MOVIE WENT THROUGH SEVERAL TITLES.
The movie was originally supposed to be titled “Johnny Utah,” the name of the character eventually played by Keanu Reeves. It was renamed “Riders on the Storm” during the first half of production, but was changed to Point Break—a surfing term for a wave that hits a piece of land extended from the coastline—before production wrapped.
4. KEANU REEVES WASN’T THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY JOHNNY UTAH.
The producers of the movie wanted Charlie Sheen or Johnny Depp for the role, but director Kathryn Bigelow demanded that Reeves be given the part. In fact, Patrick Swayze originally auditioned for the part of Utah before eventually landing the role of Bodhi.
5. UTAH’S NAME WAS BASED ON A FOOTBALL ICON.
Though Johnny never made it past being a quarterback at Ohio State in the movie, screenwriter W. Peter Iliff based the character’s name on NFL quarterback Joe Montana.
6. BODHI AND JOHNNY HAD A HISTORY.
Point Break isn’t the first time Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves worked together. They previously starred in the 1986 hockey drama Youngblood, which was Reeves’ first studio movie appearance.
7. THE PRODUCTION TOOK YEARS.
The movie was originally set up to go into production in 1987 with Ridley Scott at the helm before the producers backed out after losing the film rights. It was picked up again and completed four years later when James Cameron and his then-wife Bigelow were looking for projects for Bigelow to direct.
8. THE EX-PRESIDENTS WERE REAL SURFERS.
Instead of getting actors who could surf, Bigelow cast surfers who could act to be in the gang of “Ex-Presidents.” Bojesse Christopher (who plays Grommet) and John Philbin (who plays Nathaniel) were pro surfers who acted on the side.
9. THE FOOT CHASE BETWEEN BODHI AND UTAH WAS TECHNICALLY COMPLEX.
To get a sense of frenetic energy for the scene, Bigelow and her crew shot the sequence with what they dubbed the “pogo-cam,” which was a rig that mounted a gyro-stabilized camera on a body-length pole that could be led by the cameraman shooting the actors in front or behind him.
10. SWAYZE MISSED OUT ON SHOOTING THE FOOT CHASE.
Swayze is not the one wearing the Reagan mask during the foot chase sequence. Instead, his stunt double, Scott Wilder, performed the scene because Swayze was in Europe doing press for Ghost.
11. ONE OF THE SURFERS IS A REAL-LIFE ROCK STAR.
One of the members of the surf gang is none other than Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis. Point Break wasn’t his first acting gig; he started acting in 1978 under the pseudonym “Cole Dammett,” and first appeared as Sylvester Stallone’s son in the movie F.I.S.T.
Point Break isn’t the only time Reeves shared the screen with a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Reeves appeared in My Own Private Idaho (also released in 1991) with RHCP’s bassist, Flea.
12. THE CAST RECEIVED EXTENSIVE FIGHT TRAINING.
Second unit director and stunt coordinator Glenn Wilder held fight training sessions for the cast on weekends because Bigelow wanted the actors to do their own fights onscreen without stuntmen. Kiedis was allegedly the only cast member to miss this training, so Wilder had his character knocked out with one punch during the first fight sequence in the movie.
13. THE SKYDIVING SCENES WERE FAKE …
To get close-ups of the actors during the skydiving sequences, a crane rig with a telescoping arm was built for each actor. The rigs enabled the cast to say their lines while the camera shot them from below to achieve the sense of floating while skydiving.
14. … BUT THEY WERE ALSO REAL.
Swayze, who participated in skydiving as a hobby, was told to stop for insurance purposes once production began. Producers coaxed him into the agreement with the promise of letting the star do one actual skydive onscreen. The uncut shot of Bodhi yelling “Adios amigo!” and falling from the plane features Swayze actually making a jump.
15. THE SURFING SCENES WERE REAL, BUT WEREN’T THE REAL ACTORS.
Though cast members took surfing lessons to appear in some of the less technically complex surfing shots, many of the more dangerous shots utilized pro-surfer stunt doubles. During the “50-Year Storm” scene at the end of the movie, Swayze was doubled by legendary big-wave surfer Darrick Doerner.
16. THE MOVIE INSPIRED ITS OWN STAGE SHOW.
Point Break Live! consists of actors performing the entire movie onstage, with one catch: A random audience member is chosen to play the part of Johnny Utah and, in a send-up of Reeves’ flighty performance onscreen, the person must read all his lines off of cue cards.