15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About I Spy

Here are some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the 2002 buddy-spy comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson. 

1. IT’S ADAPTED FROM A ‘60S TV SERIES OF THE SAME NAME.

The original TV show starred Robert Culp and Bill Cobsy. 

2. MURPHY GOT INTO BOXING SHAPE WITHOUT A TRAINER.

The actor bulked up all on his own using a training regiment he knew from when his father and brothers trained as boxers growing up. 

3. AND MURPHY DID ALL OF THE BOXING HIMSELF.

No stunt doubles were used for the scenes of Kelly Robinson in the ring. 

4. A WORLD-CLASS BOXING TRAINER CHOREOGRAPHED THE FIGHT SCENES.

Fight coordinator Darrell Foster, champion boxer Sugar Ray Leonard’s trainer, was brought in to design the fight sequences. Foster is also well-known for working extensively with Will Smith, getting him into boxing shape for 2001’s Ali and training him for I Am Legend, Hancock, After Earth, and more. 

5. THE VILLAIN WAS WRITTEN WITH MALCOLM MCDOWELL IN MIND.

The script described Gundars as “a Malcolm McDowell-type,” so the filmmakers got lucky when he agreed to take on the role.

6. INSPIRATION FOR THE SWITCHBLADE CAME FROM AN UNLIKELY PLACE.

Its warped, reflective invisibility cloak was based on funhouse mirrors.

7. THE ORIGINAL SWITCHBLADE DESIGN WAS MADE FROM TOYS.

First Assistant Director Richard Graves created the Switchblade prototype by piecing together parts from his son’s plastic jet model kits. 

8. THE MOVIE WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO TAKE PLACE IN PRAGUE.

Instead, the movie shot on location in Budapest, Hungary, because the film’s producer, Andrew Vajna, lived there. She was eager to use her hometown as the setting because she had never seen it depicted in a Hollywood movie before. 

9. CARLOS, THE POMPOUS SUPERSPY, WAS BASED ON A PARTICULAR HOLLYWOOD ACTOR.

The leather-clad and ponytailed spy was allegedly based on Steven Seagal. 

10. GUNDARS’S LAIR WAS LOCATED IN A CENTURIES-OLD CASTLE.

Scenes of Malcolm McDowell’s character’s opulent residence were filmed in the 700-year old Buda Castle. 

11. THE FILM ALSO SHOT AT A FAMOUS BUDAPEST HOTEL.

The 90-year old Hotel Gellert is known for its baths and spas, though they were recreated on a soundstage for the hotel scenes in the movie so as not to ruin them.

12. THE PRODUCTION EMPLOYED HUNDREDS OF LOCAL RESIDENTS AS EXTRAS.

Six hundred local Budapest actors were used for the party scene alone. 

13 MURPHY CAME UP WITH THE IDEA TO SING “SEXUAL HEALING.”

When asked to choose a song for the scene where his character helps Alex try to seal the deal with his crush and fellow spy Rachel, Murphy chose the Marvin Gaye classic. 

14. SOME GREENSCREEN TRICKERY HELPED THE FILM’S FINALE.

Because Budapest city officials wouldn’t allow the production to shoot the film’s finale on top of a bridge over the Danube River, the bridge tower was recreated on a soundstage. The surrounding city skyline was patched together using 360-degree photo plates taken on the actual bridge and added to the soundstage location in post-production. 

15. THE ENDING WAS ADDED LATER.

They shot the ending in Monte Carlo after test audiences complained that they wanted to know what happened to Rachel after she double-crossed Alex and Kelly.

'143,' Fred Rogers's Code for "I Love You," Gets Its Own Holiday in Pennsylvania

Family Communications Inc./Getty Images
Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

"It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three."

That quote from Fred Rogers has become a symbol of the children's entertainer's legacy. The number 143, his special code for "I love you," is used by a charity inspired by Rogers, and it was spotlighted in the recent documentary movie Won't You Be My Neighbor? Now, Mister Rogers's favorite number has its own holiday in Pennsylvania.

As Philly Voice reports, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born in Westmoreland County near Pittsburgh and he spent his whole life in the area. By honoring the famous Pennsylvanian with his own holiday, the organizers behind the statewide 143 Day campaign hope to inspire residents to be kind to their neighbors on May 23 and every day of the year.

The initiative encourages schools, businesses, and citizens to share their acts of kindness on social media with the hashtag #143DayinPA. A "kindness tracker" on the campaign's website keeps how many time the hashtag has been used, and so far, over a 6000 acts of kindness have been shared online. And if someone has trouble thinking of ways to honor the spirit of Mister Rogers, the campaign's "kindness generator" can come up with a suggestion for them.

One hundred and forty-three was more than just a fun saying for Fred Rogers: It was a lucky number he made part of his lifestyle. The television personality even went so far as to go swimming every day to maintain his weight at the number.

[h/t Philly Voice]

10 Bizarre Documentaries That Are Stranger Than Fiction

A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
Top Knot Films

Documentaries have grown considerably more ambitious since Fred Ott’s Sneeze, an 1894 clip that documents the irritated sinus cavities of its subject in just five seconds. They can inspire, as in the case of 2019’s Academy Award-winning Free Solo, about bold mountain climber Alex Honnold. They can shine a light on cultural overachievers like Fred Rogers, the subject of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And they can parse political history, with films like 2003's The Fog of War shedding light on decisions that shaped the world.

Other documentaries set out to chronicle true stories that, were they presented as a fictitious, might be hard for people to believe. We’ve profiled such films in previous lists, which you can find here, here, and here. If you’ve already made your way through those tales of cannibals, tragic love affairs, and twist-laden true crime, here are 10 more that will have you staring at your television in disbelief.  

1. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

When Idaho native Jan Broberg was 12 years old in 1974, her neighbor began to take an unseemly and inappropriate interest in her. What begins as a disturbing portrait of predation quickly spirals into an unbelievable and audacious attempt to manipulate Jan’s entire family. Director Skye Borgman’s portrait of seemingly reasonable people who become ensnared in a monstrous plot to separate them from their daughter has drawn some shocking reactions since it began streaming on Netflix earlier this year.

2. The Wolfpack (2015)

Confined to their apartment in a Manhattan housing project for years by parents wary of the world outside their door, the seven Angulo siblings developed an understanding about life through movies. The Wolfpack depicts their attempts to cope with reality after finally emerging from their involuntary exile. Hulu subscribers can watch it now.

3. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

The highly marketable conceit of director Tim Wardle’s documentary is that triplets born in 1961 then separated spent the first 18 years of their lives totally ignorant of their siblings. When they reconnect, it’s a joy. But the movie quickly switches gears to explore the question of why they were separated at birth to begin with. It’s that investigation—and the chilling answer—that lends Three Identical Strangers its bittersweet, haunting atmosphere. It’s currently on Hulu.

4. Tickled (2016)

A ball of yarn bouncing down a flight of stairs is the best metaphor we can summon for the narrative of Tickled, which follows New Zealand journalist David Farrier on what appears at first glance to be a silly story about the world of “competitive endurance tickling.” In the course of reporting on this unusual subculture, Farrier crosses paths with people who would prefer their hobbies remain discreet. When he refuses to let the story go, things grow increasingly tense and dangerous. HBO subscribers can see the film, and it’s also available as a $3.99 rental on Amazon Prime.

5. Billboard Boys (2018)

In 1982, an Allentown, Pennsylvania radio station sponsored a contest in which three men agreed to live underneath a billboard. The last man remaining would win a brand-new motor home, a considerable incentive in the economically-struggling area. Three contestants went up, but things didn't go as planned. It's available for free to Amazon Prime members.

6. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

How far would you be willing to go for a new pick-up truck? That’s the deceptively simple premise for this documentary chronicling an endurance contest in Longview, Texas, where participants agree to keep one hand on the vehicle at all times: The last person standing wins. What begins as a group seeking a prize evolves into a battle of attrition, with all the psychological games and mental fortitude that comes with it. The film can be hard to find, but you can watch the first nine minutes on YouTube for free (above) and then catch the rest for $9.99 on iTunes.

7. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

At the age of 4, upstate New York resident Marla Olmstead began painting sprawling abstract art that her parents sold for premium prices. Later on, a 60 Minutes report called into question whether Marla had some assistance with her work. Was she a child prodigy, or simply a creative girl who had a little help? And if she did, should it matter? My Kid Could Paint That investigates Marla’s process, but it also sheds light on the world of abstract art and the question of who gets to decide whether a creative impulse is valid. You can rent the film for $3.99 on Amazon.

8. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

In 2014, two Wisconsin girls came to a disturbing decision: In order to appease the “Slenderman,” an internet-sourced boogeyman, they would attempt to murder a classmate. The victim survived, but three lives have been altered forever. Beware the Slenderman explores the intersection where mental illness, social media, and urban mythology collide to result in a horrific crime. It’s available to HBO viewers or as a rental on Amazon for $3.99.

9. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

For years, Richard Kuklinski satisfied his homicidal urges by taking on contract killings for organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. Following his arrest and conviction, he agreed to sit down and elaborate on his unusual methodologies for disposing of victims and how he balanced his violent tendencies with a seemingly normal domestic life that included marriage and children. (You can see an example of Kuklinski's chilling disposition in the clip above.) In addition to The Iceman Tapes, which originally aired on HBO, Kuklinski participated in two follow-ups: The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman in 2001 and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist in 2003. See them on HBO or watch the original and both follow-ups for free on Amazon Prime.

10. Tabloid (2010)

Filmmaker Errol Morris (The Fog of War) details the unusual love affair between beauty queen Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson, who alleged McKinney kidnapped and assaulted him after believing he had been brainwashed by the Mormon church. That’s only the beginning of this twisty—and twisted—story, which illustrates how people can perceive the same event in completely different ways. It’s currently streaming on Hulu.

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