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15 Things You Might Not Know About The Green Mile

Remembered for its long runtime, for launching Michael Clarke Duncan into stardom, and for being one of the few adaptations of his writing that Stephen King actually enjoyed, the 1999 film The Green Mile has certainly left its mark on contemporary cinema. Here are a few things you may not have known about the heartwarming and occasionally bone-chilling fantasy film. 

1. TWO CENTRAL CHARACTERS ALMOST WENT TO DIFFERENT ACTORS. 

Although director Frank Darabont cast Tom Hanks in the lead role of Warden Paul Edgecomb (a choice that delighted author Stephen King) fairly early in production, the director reportedly offered the part to John Travolta, who turned Darabont down. Additionally, the supporting role of Wild Bill Wharton, the rambunctious psychopath played by Sam Rockwell, was shopped to Josh Brolin at one point.

2. BRUCE WILLIS HELPED CAST A STARRING ROLE. 

The character John Coffey’s unique blend of imposing stature and gentle demeanor made casting the part a tricky task. Luckily, Bruce Willis had the right man for the job. Upon hearing of the casting search for the character, Willis was sure his friend and Armageddon costar Michael Clarke Duncan was a perfect fit for the role. Willis used his A-list pull to contact Darabont and suggest his greenhorn friend for the film. 

3. TOM HANKS NEARLY PLAYED HIS “OLDER SELF.”

The story of Hanks’s character Paul’s experiences as a death row warden in 1935 is bookended by two sequences set in 1999 in which a much older Paul introduces and concludes the narrative. Eighty-two-year-old Dabbs Greer played the older incarnation of the character in his final big screen role. Before the casting of Greer, however, the plan was for Hanks to play the “Old Paul Edgecomb” part himself. But the makeup team couldn't manage to transform Hanks into a believable centenarian, so Greer was wrangled for the position. 

4. THERE WAS MORE THAN ONE MR. JINGLES. 

Between 15 and 30 trained mice were used to portray the clever ward mascot Mr. Jingles, in addition to animatronics and CGI effects. (Thankfully, the latter techniques were utilized in the scene when Mr. Jingles suffers the wrath of the malicious Percy Wetmore.) The mice were coaxed to their marks with small dishes of food. 

5. DUNCAN’S STAND-IN SNUCK ONTO SET TO GET THE JOB. 

While Duncan had little trouble landing his Green Mile gig after Willis’s endorsement, one particular crewmember had to jump through a few hoops … or stow away in the back of a few trucks. Rodney Barnes, an aspiring producer and writer who had been working as a production assistant and set security guard, hoped that by playing stand-in for Duncan he would be able to meet his hero, Stephen King. Barnes recalls hiding out in the back of a prop police vehicle to sneak onto the film's set, a caper that impressed Darabont enough to land him the gig.

6. DARABONT ALLEGEDLY THREW A DOGHOUSE ON SET. 

Production concluded approximately one month behind schedule, which would frustrate any director. A rumor about Darabont’s growing irritation alleged that the director threw a tantrum on set, lifting and hurling a prop doghouse in a fit of rage. Darabont actually addressed this story during the movie’s audio commentary featurette available on the movie’s Blu-ray release; he denied chucking the pooch’s house and attributed the urban legend to Entertainment Weekly

7. DUNCAN WASN’T ACTUALLY THAT TALL. 

At 6 feet 5 inches tall, Duncan was a large man by anyone’s measure. However, he was practically average height on the set of The Green Mile, alongside costars David Morse (6 feet 4 inches) and James Cromwell (6 feet 6 inches). Blocking tactics gave Duncan the appearance of towering over his costars. 

8. MANY OF THE ACTORS “LET THEMSELVES GO” DURING PRODUCTION. 

To achieve era-appropriate body types, several stars’ preparations included neglecting their usual dietary and exercise regimens. The doughier ranks included Hanks, who opted for the look of a slightly chubby everyman; Duncan, who stopped lifting weights in order to avoid an anachronistic level of fitness; and Bonnie Hunt, who gained 15 pounds to play Hanks’ screen wife. 

9. THERE WAS A FUNNY NAMING COINCIDENCE ON THE CAST SHEET. 

Two of Hanks’s fellow officers, played respectively by actors Jeffrey DeMunn and Barry Pepper, are named Harry and Dean Stanton. The film also includes a crass but cooperative inmate played by character actor Harry Dean Stanton. It was apparently a coincidence—the names came directly from King’s source material. 

10. THE FILM IS MARKED BY TWO MAJOR ANACHRONISMS.

When Darabont shifted the setting of King’s story from 1932 to 1935 in order to include reference to the 1935 Fred Astaire/Ginger Roberts musical comedy Top Hat, he overlooked two remaining elements that proved incongruous with the year in question. The first involves the uniforms worn by the lawmen in the film; uniforms weren’t standard for death row corrections officers in the 1930s. The second, and substantially larger, error is the use of the electric chair itself. Louisiana didn’t replace the gallows with the chair as its means for capital punishment until the early 1940s. 

11. HANKS DEFENDED THE MOVIE’S RUNTIME AGAINST COMPLAINING CRITICS. 

At 188 minutes, The Green Mile takes up a healthy chunk of your day. Upon the film’s release critics voiced frustration with the growing trend of three-hour movies, much to affirmed cinephile Hanks’ chagrin. The actor publicly said, “Hey, it's more movie for your dollar! It's like an extra inning. Wow! Now you can get a whole evening of entertainment!” 

12. SPIKE LEE WAS A VOCAL CRITIC OF THE JOHN COFFEY CHARACTER. 

Always outspoken about the depiction of African American men and women in Hollywood productions, Spike Lee took The Green Mile to task for what he and some film critics saw as the relegation of Duncan to the detested trope of “magic Negro,” a term for an enchanted black character who exists purely to better the lives of his white compatriots. 

13. THE GREEN MILE WAS THE HIGHEST GROSSING STEPHEN KING MOVIE. 

While The Shining claims the longstanding cult esteem and The Shawshank Redemption might top the lot in basic cable omnipresence, the somewhat less heralded The Green Mile that managed to hit an impressive $136.8 million in domestic ticket sales and $286.8 million worldwide. 

14. THERE IS A REDDIT THREAD DEVOTED TO DETERMINING HOW LONG PAUL EDGECOMB WILL LIVE.

The movie leaves off with the 108-year-old Paul, infected by unnatural life as a result of John Coffey’s power (deeming it his punishment for destroying a saintly miracle) wondering aloud just how long he has left on Earth. In 2013, one Reddit user opened discussion to determine the answer to Paul’s question, hoping to calculate a sum based on the estimated lifespan of the likewise infected mouse Mr. Jingles. Answers vary from 200 to 10 quadrillion years. 

15. THE GREEN MILE SHARES A NUMBER OF CAST AND CREW MEMBERS WITH THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Writer/director Darabont’s 1994 film, also an adaptation of a Stephen King story set in a penitentiary, shares with The Green Mile actors Jeffrey DeMunn, William Sadler, Mack Miles, and Brian Libby, composer Thomas Newman, editor Richard Francis-Bruce, and set decorator Michael Seirton.

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10 People Who Have Misplaced Their Oscars
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Getty Images

Winning an Oscar is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Unless you’re Walt Disney, who won 22. Nevertheless, owning a little gold guy is such a rarity that you’d think their owners would be a little more careful with them. Now, not all of these losses are the winners' fault—but some of them certainly are, Colin Firth.

1. ANGELINA JOLIE

After Angelina Jolie planted a kiss on her brother and made the world wrinkle their noses, she went onstage and collected a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted. She later presented the trophy to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand. The statuette may have been boxed up and put into storage with the rest of Marcheline’s belongings when she died in 2007, but it hasn’t yet surfaced. “I didn’t actually lose it,” Jolie said, “but nobody knows where it is at the moment.”

2. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg sent her Ghost Best Supporting Actress Oscar back to the Academy to have it cleaned and detailed, because apparently you can do that. The Academy then sent the Oscar on to R.S. Owens Co. of Chicago, the company that manufactures the trophies. When it arrived in the Windy City, however, the package was empty. It appeared that someone had opened the UPS package, removed the Oscar, then neatly sealed it all back up and sent it on its way. It was later found in a trash can at an airport in Ontario, California. The Oscar was returned to the Academy, who returned it to Whoopi without cleaning it. “Oscar will never leave my house again,” Goldberg said.

3. OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

When Olympia Dukakis’s Moonstruck Oscar was stolen from her home in 1989, she called the Academy to see if it could be replaced. “For $78,” they said, and she agreed that it seemed like a fair price. It was the only thing taken from the house.

4. MARLON BRANDO

“I don’t know what happened to the Oscar they gave me for On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography. “Somewhere in the passage of time it disappeared.” He also didn't know what happened to the Oscar that he had Sacheen Littlefeather accept for him in 1973. “The Motion Picture Academy may have sent it to me, but if it did, I don’t know where it is now.”

5. JEFF BRIDGES

Jeff Bridges had just won his Oscar in 2010 for his portrayal of alcoholic country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, but it was already missing by the next year’s ceremony, where he was up for another one. He lost to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. “It’s been in a few places since last year but I haven’t seen it for a while now,” the actor admitted. “I’m hoping it will turn up, especially now that I haven’t won a spare! But Colin deserves it. I just hope he looks after it better.” Which brings us to ...

6. COLIN FIRTH

Perhaps Jeff Bridges secretly cursed the British actor as he said those words, because Firth nearly left his new trophy on a toilet tank the very night he received it. After a night of cocktails at the Oscar after-parties in 2011, Firth allegedly had to be chased down by a bathroom attendant, who had found the eight-pound statuette in the bathroom stall. Notice we said allegedly: Shortly after those reports surfaced, Firth's rep issued a statement saying the "story is completely untrue. Though it did give us a good laugh."

7. MATT DAMON

When newbie writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took home Oscars for writing Good Will Hunting in 1998, it was one of those amazing Academy Award moments. Now, though, Damon isn’t sure where his award went. “I know it ended up at my apartment in New York, but unfortunately, we had a flood when one of the sprinklers went off when my wife and I were out of town and that was the last I saw of it,” Damon said in 2007.

8. MARGARET O'BRIEN

In 1945, seven-year-old Margaret O’Brien was presented with a Juvenile Academy Award for being the outstanding child actress of the year. About 10 years later, the O’Briens' maid took the award home to polish, as she had done before, but never came back to work. The missing Oscar was forgotten about when O’Brien’s mother died shortly thereafter, and when Margaret finally remembered to call the maid, the number had been disconnected. She ended up receiving a replacement from the Academy.

There’s a happy ending to this story, though. In 1995, a couple of guys were picking their way through a flea market when they happened upon the Oscar. They put it up for auction, which is when word got back to the Academy that the missing trophy had resurfaced. The guys who found the Oscar pulled it from auction and presented it, in person, to Margaret O’Brien. “I’ll never give it to anyone to polish again,” she said.

9. BING CROSBY

For years, Bing Crosby's Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way had been on display at his alma mater, Gonzaga University. In 1972, students walked into the school’s library to find that the 13-inch statuette had been replaced with a three-inch Mickey Mouse figurine instead. A week later, the award was found, unharmed, in the university chapel. “I wanted to make people laugh,” the anonymous thief later told the school newspaper.

10. HATTIE MCDANIEL

Hattie McDaniel, famous for her Supporting Actress win as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, donated her Best Actress Oscar to Howard University. It was displayed in the fine arts complex for a time, but went missing sometime in the 1960s. No one seems to know exactly when or how, but there are rumors that the Oscar was unceremoniously dumped into the Potomac by students angered by racial stereotypes such as the one she portrayed in the film.

An earlier version of this post ran in 2013.

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Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
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Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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