CLOSE
Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

20 Things You Might Not Know About While You Were Sleeping

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

She should have stayed in the booth! Back in 1995, Sandra Bullock’s career was just kicking into high gear. After breaking out in 1994’s smash hit Speed, her next role—in the romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping—helped establish her as the kind of leading lady who didn’t need the distraction of big-time action to be compelling. The sweet and satisfying Christmas-set romance turns 20 years old this week, and in celebration of that anniversary, here are some bits of trivia you won’t want to sleep on.

1. JULIA ROBERTS TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF LUCY MODERATZ.

Roberts was already flying high from the major success of Pretty Woman five years earlier, so the actress seemed like a solid pick for another charming romantic comedy about two very different people brought together by unexpected circumstances. Fortunately for Bullock, she turned down the role.

2. SANDRA BULLOCK WAS THE FIRST CAST MEMBER TO JOIN.

Part of Bullock’s appeal to the production team? A little film she had done earlier for Roger Birnbaum, a former Fox president who produced While You Were Sleeping, called Love Potion #9, which helped assure Birnbaum she was ready for the kind of larger part that the film required from her.

3. THAT PAPERBOY FAIL ONLY LOOKS FUNNY.

The kid who played the paperboy in the film wasn’t meant to biff his paper toss so spectacularly; his fall was an accident and he actually broke his wrist while doing it.

4. THE FIRST SCENE SHOT FOR THE FILM DIDN’T INVOLVE THE CALLAGHANS AT ALL.

It’s actually the scene that puts everything in motion: Lucy’s boss Jerry (Jason Bernard) asking her to work on Christmas Day. The scene was shot along the banks of the Chicago River, complete with hot dog vendor.

5. BEN FOLDS REFERENCES THE FILM IN HIS SONG “FROM ABOVE.”

The song chronicles a long string of missed connections between two unnamed people who are destined to be together. One of those misses? A 6:30 screening of While You Were Sleeping (in Folds’ created lore, the female half of the story sat just behind the male at the theater, neither one of them the wiser).

6. ONLY A FEW OF THE HOSPITAL SCENES WERE FILMED AT AN ACTUAL HOSPITAL.

The film’s hospital scenes were set at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (a real hospital in Chicago), but the necessary sets were rebuilt for ease of filming; the movie shot almost three weeks of just hospital-set bits alone.

7. THE CALLAGHANS’ HOUSE IS REAL.

Unlike the hospital, every scene that takes place in the Callaghan family abode was lensed on location at a charming turn-of-the-century house in suburban La Grange, Illinois.

8. THE FILM WAS THE DEBUT PROJECT OF SCREENWRITING TEAM DANIEL G. SULLIVAN AND FREDERIC LEBOW.

Although the film was a huge hit for the newbie screenwriters, neither of them has penned a produced screenplay since While You Were Sleeping hit theaters.

9. THE FIRST VERSION OF THE FILM REVERSED THE ROLES.

Sullivan and Lebow’s original vision for the film involved a man—a New York City fish salesman, for some reason—who spots a lovely Scandinavian woman in the streets. Before he can introduce himself, she is hit by a newspaper truck and ends up in a coma. The sexes were eventually reversed (and the inciting accident was obviously changed) when it was suggested to Sullivan and Lebow that a man following a woman seemed “too predatory.”

10. THE CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY GRANTED THE FILM SPECIAL ACCESS.

So much of While You Were Sleeping takes place at Lucy’s place of employment—a Chicago train station—that the film required not only the use of the station and its tracks, but use of them during daylight hours (as Lucy spies Peter when he’s on his way to work in the mornings). Although the CTA had never shut down one of their stations for a film project during the day, they made an exception for While You Were Sleeping.

11. THE TRAIN SCENES ALONE TOOK FOUR WEEKEND SHOOTS.

The CTA shut down the Randolph and Wabash station four weekends in a row for filming. In order to film the scene where Lucy jumps down on to the tracks to save Peter, they moved to the Sedgewick station for just one day, which conveniently enough includes one section of rail without any live currents, which was much safer for everyone involved!

12. PETER’S APARTMENT IS LOCATED IN CHICAGO’S SWANKY LAKE POINT TOWER.

Lots of other Chicago-based films have shot there, too, including Meet the Parents and The Lake House (the latter of which also starred Bullock).

13. THE FILM EARNED BULLOCK HER FIRST GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATION.

Bullock’s role in While You Were Sleeping earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. Although she lost out on that particular award, she took the statue home in 2010 for her role in The Blind Side (she was nominated twice that year, earning a second nod for The Proposal).

14. THE FILM EARNED MORE THAN 10 TIMES ITS BUDGET BACK.

While You Were Sleeping made a giant splash at the box office, making more than $180 million in worldwide returns, the vast majority of which was pure profit, as the film was made for a surprisingly slim $17 million.

15. IT’S STILL ONE OF BULLOCK’S HIGHEST-GROSSING FILMS.

Even after 20 years and lots of other successes, the film is still Bullock’s ninth highest-grossing feature film (domestically), just behind Two Weeks Notice and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

16. THE FILM WAS A BIG DEPARTURE FOR ITS DIRECTOR.

Jon Turteltaub helmed the film, and it certainly was a change for the filmmaker; he had previously directed pictures like 3 Ninjas and Cool Runnings, which certainly helps account for the high level of humor in the film (even with no ninjas or bobsled teams).

17. JOHN TRAVOLTA’S SISTER MARGARET APPEARS IN THE MOVIE.

She plays the nurse who admits Peter into the hospital.

18. JOHN CUSACK’S FATHER, DICK, ALSO APPEARS IN THE FILM.

He plays Dr. Rubin. (The elder Cusack got started on his film career later in life, and his small turn in While You Were Sleeping was only his eighth movie credit.)

19. IN POLAND, THE FILM IS KNOWN AS JA CIE KOCHAM, A TY SPISZ.

Loosely translated, that means “I love you and you sleep.” (Most other countries had an easier time translating the title a touch more literally, including Germany, Spain, and Italy.)

20. THE FILM KNOCKED BAD BOYS OUT OF THE TOP SPOT AT THE BOX OFFICE.

Michael Bay’s Bad Boys (the director’s first feature, and a surprise hit) had been in theaters for just two weeks when While You Were Sleeping debuted, but it had handily won the top spot at the box office both weekends. When the rom-com came on the scene, not only did it best the action-comedy, it made $2 million more than it while screening in 700 fewer theaters.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
arrow
entertainment
13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.

1. ON ADVICE

"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

2. ON REGRETS

"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks

3. ON DEATH

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert

4. ON NERVES

''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times

5. ON ACTING

"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age

6. ON MARRIAGE

"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with About.com

7. ON LYING

“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair

8. ON HIS SUNGLASSES

"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

9. ON MISCONCEPTIONS

"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN

10. ON DIRECTING

"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV

11. ON ROGER CORMAN

"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World

12. ON PLAYING THE JOKER

"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman

13. ON BASKETBALL

"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Netflix
arrow
entertainment
There's a Simple Trick to Sort Movies and TV Shows by Year on Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Netflix is stocked with so many movies and TV shows that it’s not always easy to actually find what you’re looking for. And while sorting by genre can help a little, even that’s a bit too broad for some. There’s one helpful hack, though, that you probably didn’t know about—and it could make the endless browsing much less painful.

As POPSUGAR reports: By simply opening Netflix up to one of its specific category pages—Horror, Drama, Comedy, Originals, etc.—you can then sort by release year with just a few clicks. All you need to do is look at the top of the page, where you’ll see an icon that looks like a box with four dots in it.

Screenshot of the Netflix Menu
Netflix

Once you click on it, it will expand to a tab labeled “Suggestions for You.” Just hit that again and a dropdown menu will appear that allows you to sort by year released or alphabetical and reverse-alphabetical orders. When sorted by release year, the more recent movies or shows will be up top and they'll get older as you scroll to the bottom of the page.


Netflix

This tip further filters your Netflix options, so if you’re in the mood for a classic drama, old-school comedy, or a retro bit of sci-fi, you don’t have to endlessly scroll through every page to find the right one.

If you want to dig deeper into Netflix’s categories, here’s a way to find all sorts of hidden ones the streaming giant doesn’t tell you about. And also check out these 12 additional Netflix tricks that should make your binge-watching that much easier.

[h/t POPSUGAR]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios