15 Wild Facts About Animal House

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Toga! Toga! Toga! On the 40th anniversary of its premiere, here are some fun facts about Animal House that’ll bring you right back to your college days.

1. THE MOVIE WAS ORIGINALLY ABOUT CHARLES MANSON.

The first draft of the screenplay by Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney was entitled Laser Orgy Girls, and was about the cult leader and murderer in high school. The script was immediately rejected.

2. THE FINAL SCRIPT WAS THE RESULT OF A THREE-MONTH BRAINSTORMING SESSION.

During a cram writing session, the writers all contributed stories about their Greek life hijinks: Chris Miller of his time in Alpha Delta Phi at Dartmouth, Ramis in Zeta Beta Tau at Washington University in St. Louis, Kenney in the Spee Club at Harvard, and producer Ivan Reitman in Delta Upsilon at McMaster University.

3. THE FILMMAKERS HAD OTHER ACTORS IN MIND FOR THE LEAD ROLES.

They originally wanted Dan Aykroyd to play D-Day, Brian Doyle-Murray to play Hoover, Bill Murray to play Boon, and Chevy Chase to play Otter.

4. CHRIS MILLER'S REAL FRATERNITY PLEDGE NAME FOUND ITS WAY INTO THE FILM.

His pledge name, like Thomas Hulce’s character's in the movie, was “Pinto.”

5. DOUGLAS KENNEY HAS A BACKGROUND ROLE AS A FRAT BOY.

He plays Stork, the Delta brother everyone thinks is “brain damaged.”

6. YOU CAN THANK DONALD SUTHERLAND FOR THE MOVIE'S CREATION.

Universal Studios only greenlit the movie because Sutherland, who was a recognizable star, signed on to appear as Professor Jennings.

7. IT MADE JOHN BELUSHI A STAR.

Belushi had appeared on SNL for three years, but Animal House was his big screen debut. During the film’s production, he shot the movie Monday through Wednesday and flew back to New York to do SNL Thursday through Saturday.

8. IT WAS KEVIN BACON'S FIRST MOVIE.

Bacon plays Omega pledge Chip Diller.

9. FABER COLLEGE IS ACTUALLY THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON.

It was the only school that would let the production shoot on campus.

10. THE OREGON DEAN ACQUIESCED TO FILMING BECAUSE OF A PREVIOUS MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

Years earlier, he had rejected the offer to have the production of The Graduate shoot on campus. Not wanting to let another go at Hollywood pass him by, he approved the production without reading Animal House’s script. He gave them such carte blanche that his own office was used to film Dean Wormer’s office in the movie.

11. THE STUDIO DIDN'T LIKE JOHN LANDIS'S CHOICE OF COMPOSER.

Landis tapped composer Elmer Bernstein to do the score because Landis was childhood friends with Bernstein’s son. At that point his career, Bernstein was known for scoring epics like The Ten Commandments and serious dramas like To Kill a Mockingbird, so the studio was skeptical he’d be a good fit for a gross-out comedy. They were won over after Landis had Bernstein score the comedy as if it were one of his serious dramas, thus playing up the absurdity of what happens onscreen.

12. LIKE ANY GOOD FRAT, DELTA TAU CHI HAS A LATIN MOTTO.

Delta’s motto is “Ars Gratia Artis,” Latin for “Art for art’s sake.”

13. BELUSHI DIDN'T ACTUALLY CHUG A FIFTH OF JACK DANIELS.

Contrary to rumors, it was iced tea—and not real whiskey—in the bottle that Belushi chugs after Delta is expelled from campus.

14. OTIS DAY CHANGE HIS NAME TO HIS CHARACTER'S IN REAL LIFE.

Actor DeWayne Jessie played Otis Day, the leader of the band at the Dexter Lake Club, and legally changed his name to Otis Day after gaining popularity following the release of the movie. He still tours with the band Otis Day and the Knights to this day.

15. ANIMAL HOUSE SPAWNED A SHORT-LIVED TV SPINOFF IN 1979.

Delta House, which aired on ABC, was cancelled after three months. Ramis, Miller, and Kenney wrote the pilot episode, while the actors who play Dean Wormer, Flounder, D-Day, and Hoover all reprised their roles. The show also featured the television debut of Michelle Pfeiffer, who played “The Bombshell.”

8 Facts About Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon
Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon

Longtime Harry Potter fans who feel like first-years at heart may find it hard to believe, but the books have been around for decades. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, which follows Harry as he faces Dementors, investigates the mysterious Sirius Black, and gets through his third year at Hogwarts.

From Rowling’s writing process to how it changed The New York Times Best Sellers list, here are some facts you should know about the wildly popular book.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was J.K. Rowling’s "best writing experience."

In a 2004 interview with USA Today, Rowling described the creation of Prisoner of Azkaban as “the best writing experience I ever had.” This had more to do with where Rowling was at in her professional life than the content of the actual story. By book three, she was successful enough where she didn’t have to worry about finances, but not yet so famous that the she felt the stress of being in the public eye.

2. The Dementors represent depression.

Readers who live with depression may see something familiar in Prisoner of Azkaban’s soul-sucking Dementors. According to the book, “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself ... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

Rowling has stated that she based the Dementor’s effects on her own experiences with depression. "[Depression] is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again," she told The Times in 2000. "The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It's a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different."

3. Rowling regretted giving Harry the Marauder’s Map.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Marauder’s Map is introduced as a way for Harry to track Sirius Black and learn of the survival of Peter Pettigrew. But this plot device proved problematic for Rowling later on this series. In Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, she wrote, “The Marauder’s Map subsequently became something of a bane to its true originator (me), because it allowed Harry a little too much freedom of information.” She went on to say that she sometimes wished she had made Harry lose the map for good in the later books.

4. Rowling was excited to introduce Remus Lupin.

One of the aspects Rowling most enjoyed about writing Prisoner of Azkaban was introducing Remus Lupin. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and secret werewolf is one of the author's favorite characters in the series, and as she told Barnes & Noble in 1999, “I was looking forward to writing the third book from the start of the first because that's when Professor Lupin appears.”

5. Crookshanks is based on a real cat.

Harry had Hedwig the owl, Ron had his pet rat Scabbers, and in book three, Hermione got a pet of her own: an intelligent half-Kneazle cat named Crookshanks. J.K. Rowling is allergic to cats, and she admits on her website that she prefers dogs, but she does have fond memories of a cat that roamed the London neighborhood where she worked in the 1980s. When writing Crookshanks, she gave him that cat’s haughty attitude and smushed-face appearance.

6. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book Americans had to wait for.

Harry Potter fans based in America will no doubt remember waiting months after a book’s initial release in England to buy it from their local bookstore. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book with a staggered publication date: Beginning with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the rest of the books in the series were published in both markets on the same date.

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban broke sales records.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sold 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of its release, making it the fastest-selling British book of all time in 1999. The book has since gone on to sell more than 65 million copies worldwide and helped make Harry Potter the bestselling book series ever.

8. It changed The New York Times Best Sellers List.

For part of 1999, the first three Harry Potter books—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (which is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone pretty much everywhere besides America), Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban—occupied the top three slots on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It didn’t stay that way for long, though: Prisoner of Azkaban was the book that pushed the paper to create a separate list just for children’s literature, leaving more room on the original list for books aimed at adults. That’s why Harry Potter is missing from the famous bestsellers roundup during the 2000s, despite dominating book sales at this time.

Game of Thrones Star Emilia Clarke Turned Down the Lead in 50 Shades of Grey

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Though Emilia Clarke is undoubtedly best known for her starring role on Game of Thrones, she has landed some other plum parts over the past several years, including Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, the role of Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the lead in Phillip Noyce's upcoming Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston. But there's one major role Clarke passed on, and has no regrets about it: Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise.

The movies, based on E. L. James's erotic book series, trace the sadomasochistic/romantic relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire businessman Christian Grey. Both the books and the movies have garnered a lot of criticism for their graphic nudity and sex scenes. While Clarke is no stranger to appearing nude on film for her role as Daenerys Targaryen, she said that 50 Shades of Grey would have taken her too far out of her comfort zone.

“There is a huge amount of nudity in the film,” the British actress told The Sun of her reasons for not wanting to get involved with the film series. “I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.”

Even without 50 Shades of Grey on her resume, Clarke says she has dealt with a lot of negative backlash because of the nudity in Game of Thrones. “I get a lot of crap for nude and sex scenes,” the 32-year-old star said. “Women hating on women. It’s so anti-feminist.”

When we last left Daenerys, she seemed to be getting serious about Jon Snow—who, unbeknownst to the two of them, is her nephew. We'll see how that unpleasant discovery plays out when Game of Thrones returns on April 14, 2019.

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