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10 Hair-Raising Facts About Edward Scissorhands

This year, Tim Burton’s goth masterpiece (gothsterpiece?) Edward Scissorhands turns 25. Get your Robert Smith hair going, put on some black leather, and let’s see what you know about one of the most iconic films of the 1990s.

1. THE STUDIO WANTED TOM CRUISE FOR THE LEAD.

After the success of 1989’s Batman, 20th Century Fox was willing to take a gamble on Tim Burton’s offbeat little suburban fantasy, but they wanted him to cast a big star in the lead role. Specifically, they wanted Tom Cruise, who at the time was riding high on the success of Rain Man. Burton talked to Cruise, noting later that “he was interesting, but I think it worked out for the best” that he went with Johnny Depp instead. “At the end of the meeting I did feel like, and I probably even said this to him, ‘It’s nice to have a lot of questions about the character, but you either do it or you don’t do it.’”

2. THE FILM WAS THE FIRST OF BURTON AND DEPP’S MANY COLLABORATIONS.

Though he wanted to go with an unknown actor for the part, Burton compromised on Johnny Depp, who at the time was a teen idol known mostly for his television work. “I didn’t really know him,” said Burton. “I hadn’t seen that TV show he’d been in [21 Jump Street], but I must have seen a picture of him somewhere.” The film would be the first of their eight (and counting) feature film collaborations.

3. THE STUDIO WORRIED THAT EDWARD’S APPEARANCE WOULD TURN OFF MOVIEGOERS.

Studio execs were so worried that potential moviegoers would respond poorly to Edward Scissorhands’s appearance (it wasn’t exactly Depp’s typical look at the time) that they tried to keep images of his full ensemble from being released until the film came out.

4. STAN WINSTON BUILT EDWARD’S HANDS.

Edward’s iconic hands were designed by makeup and special effects icon Stan Winston, who was best known for his work on the Terminator movies, Jurassic Park, and Aliens, among many other projects. It was Winston who decided to use real scissors for Edward’s fingers. When Winston first showed his sketches to Burton, the director responded that, “I didn’t think he’d actually have scissors for fingers. I thought they’d just be long sharp pieces of metal that weren’t finished—but this is much better!” Winston would go on to work with Burton again on Batman Returns and Big Fish.

5. THE BOGGS’S NEIGHBORHOOD IS REAL.

Though based on Burton’s hometown of Burbank, California, Edward Scissorhands was filmed in a real subdivision near Tampa, Florida. Production designer Bo Welch prepped the houses for Burton’s distinct off-kilter palette by painting them pastel colors; while the redesign was going on, some of the residents still lived there. “Initially they didn't like it, but I think they got used to it,” Welch recalled to Entertainment Weekly. “It made it more of a fun place.”

6. WINONA RYDER DID NOT RELATE TO HER CHARACTER.

Winona Ryder’s blonde cheerleader Kim was a far cry from both Ryder’s own personality and her previous Burton role (Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice), a fact that tickled Burton pink (or, well, a black sort of pink) to no end. “I thought the idea of her as a cheerleader, wearing a blonde wig, was very funny,” Burton said. “I think she might even say it’s probably the most difficult thing she’s ever done because she did not relate to her character. She was tortured by these people at school herself. It was so funny. I used to laugh every day when I saw her walk on the set wearing this little cheerleader outfit and a Hayley Mills-type blonde wig. She looked like Bambi.”

7. THE MOVIE EXISTS, IN PART, BECAUSE OF DIANNE WIEST.

If you love Edward Scissorhands, you can thank Dianne Wiest. Not only did she play Edward’s first friend—the infectiously chipper, Avon-selling, suburban mom Peg Boggs—she was also the first person to read the script and one of the movie’s most tireless champions. Says Burton: “Because she is so respected, once she had given it her stamp of approval, others soon got interested. In many ways, she was my guardian angel.”

8. THE MOVIE ALLOWED BURTON TO WORK WITH A PERSONAL HERO.

In the small role of Edward’s creator/father was horror legend Vincent Price, one of Burton’s personal heroes. After shooting Edward Scissorhands, Burton began interviewing Price for a documentary titled Conversations with Vincent, production on which came to a halt when Price passed away in 1993. The film was released two years later.

9. DEPP REPRISED HIS ROLE ON ONE OCCASION.

Depp reprised his role as Edward Scissorhands for one of Seth MacFarlane’s signature cutaway gags in the 2012 Family Guy episode “Lois Comes Out Of Her Shell.”

10. THERE’S A FOSSIL NAMED FOR DEPP, THANKS TO EDWARD.

In 2013, a 505 million-year-old fossil, Kooteninchela deppi, was named after Johnny Depp. The reason? “When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands,” said paleontologist Dr. David Legg, who named the prehistoric animal. “In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honor the man than to immortalize him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?”

Additional Sources
Masters of Cinema: Tim Burton, by Aurélien Ferenczi
Burton on Burton, by Tim Burton

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
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That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

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4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

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5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

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6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

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8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

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11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

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12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy chomping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

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14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

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15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

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16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

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17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

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18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

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