15 Twisted Facts About The Sixth Sense

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

On August 6, 1999, moviegoers got their first look at The Sixth Sense. M. Night Shyamalan’s story about eight-year-old Cole Sear seeing dead people captivated a large enough audience to become the highest grossing movie of 1999 that didn’t feature a character named Jar Jar Binks. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, a particularly impressive feat for a thriller/horror movie. Below are some nuggets about The Sixth Sense just for the living.

1. THE DISNEY EXECUTIVE WHO BOUGHT THE SCRIPT WAS FIRED BECAUSE OF IT.

Walt Disney Studios' then-president David Vogel didn’t bother to consult with his superiors before paying $2.25 million for the rights to The Sixth Sense, and agreed to let Shyamalan direct the already-expensive film. Vogel’s boss was livid when he found out about the deal, and demanded that Vogel relinquish some of his power. When Vogel refused, he was canned.

2. IT WAS ONE OF THREE FILMS BRUCE WILLIS STARRED IN AS PART OF A SETTLEMENT WITH DISNEY.

A couple years before The Sixth Sense was released, Willis was slated to star in another Disney film, the ill-fated Broadway Brawler. It did not go well. Willis, who was both producing and starring in the film, fired most of the crew—including the director—less than three weeks into production. The turmoil forced Disney to abandon the movie altogether, to the tune of a $17.5 million loss. To make up for it, Willis signed a three-picture contract with the studio in which a portion of his salary would go back to covering their losses on Broadway Brawler. The first of those three was Armageddon, the second was The Sixth Sense (for which he earned $10 million), followed by The Kid.

3. MICHAEL CERA AUDITIONED TO PLAY COLE.


Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Cera, who was 10 years old at the time, remembered getting the tone of the scene all wrong in his audition. Instead of crying like Haley Joel Osment did in the film, he played the scene as “upbeat.” Before Osment got the part, Liam Aiken was offered the role, but turned it down.

4. OSMENT WAS VERY PREPARED BY THE TIME HE AUDITIONED.

Haley’s father, Eugene Michael Osment, is a theater and movie actor who made sure his son read the entire screenplay twice. He told him that it wasn’t a horror movie, it was a movie about communication. Once Haley finished the audition and left the room, Shyamalan told his casting director he wasn’t sure he wanted to even make the movie if Osment wasn’t in it.

5. MARISA TOMEI WAS ALMOST COLE’S MOTHER.

Tomei lost out to Toni Collette. Collette had ambivalent feelings when she found out from her agent that she got the part, as she had her heart set on being cast in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film, Bringing Out the Dead.

6. DONNIE WAHLBERG LOST 43 POUNDS TO PLAY VINCENT GREY.


Buena Vista Pictures

The former New Kid on the Block wanted to prove that he was serious about pursuing an acting career.

7. SHYAMALAN REGRETTED CASTING HIMSELF AS DR. HILL.

He did it as a “nice little thing” to acknowledge his parents, who are both doctors. Unfortunately, the actor Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan wasn’t good enough for his director: He thought his acting was so bad that he cut most of his scene.

8. THERE WAS A REASON WHY OSMENT NEVER GOT COLD.

According to the film’s logic, it’s only when a ghost got upset that the temperature dropped.

9. PATCHES OF WHITE HAIR WERE ALSO IMPORTANT.

Osment and Donnie Wahlberg’s character, who also saw dead people, both had some white hair on their heads. Shyamalan decided that all “spirit spotters” would have one similar physical attribute.

10. OSMENT’S FATHER TOLD BRUCE WILLIS TO YELL AT HIS SON TO GET HIM TO CRY.

When Haley couldn’t manage to cry in a scene where he was supposed to, Eugene suggested to Willis that he yell his lines off-camera to his son to get the waterworks going. It worked.

11. STRANGE THINGS HAPPENED TO TONI COLLETTE DURING FILMING.


Buena Vista Pictures

In her Philadelphia hotel room, she always woke up in the middle of the night and always to a repeating number—1:11, 3:33, or 4:44.

12. MISCHA BARTON ACTUALLY THREW UP BREAKFAST CEREAL.

Future The O.C. star Mischa Barton played Kyra Collins, the little girl who was killed by her mother. The “vomit” was actually a breakfast cereal mix that she would hold in her mouth and spit up. Barton didn’t tell her friends she was in the movie, which caused one of them to run out of a screening, horrified that her friend had just died in front of her eyes.

13. A GRAPHIC SCENE WAS DELETED.

Osment remembered shooting a scene where he looked out a window and saw an entire hospital wing of “horribly disfigured and mutilated people.” Shyamalan cut it from the movie, possibly to protect its PG-13 rating.

14. THE MOVIE WAS RELEASED ON SHYAMALAN’S 29TH BIRTHDAY.


Buena Vista Pictures

The Sixth Sense was released on August 6, 1999. Because that also happened to be the director's 29th birthday, he took it as a sign that The Sixth Sense was “being guided.” His first two movies1992's Praying With Anger and 1998's Wide Awake—grossed $350,000 combined. The Sixth Sense made more than $8 million on its opening day.

15. IT’S SIMILAR TO AN EPISODE OF ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?

As the internet has pointed out, the 1994 episode “The Tale of the Dream Girl” shares a similar storyline to The Sixth Sense, where a teenager named Johnny doesn’t realize that he’s dead until the very end of the episode, even though the only living person that talks to him is his sister Erica. (The audience doesn't realize it either.)

10 Unforgettable Facts About The Notebook On Its 15th Anniversary

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star in The Notebook (2004).
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star in The Notebook (2004).
New Line Cinema

In 1996, Nicholas Sparks published his first book, The Notebook. He would go on to write several more romance novels, many of which would be adapted into films. But 2004’s film adaption of The Notebook remains the highest-grossing Sparks adaptation, making $115 million worldwide against a $25 million budget. It was Rachel McAdams's breakout lead role (it was released just a few months after Mean Girls); it solidified Ryan Gosling as a “hey girl” heartthrob; and it swept all eight categories it was nominated for at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards, winning in categories like Choice Movie Love Scene and Choice Movie Liplock.

The book and movie follow a young couple named Noah (Gosling) and Allie (Adams) in 1940s North Carolina (the movie was filmed in South Carolina). Despite some obstacles, the couple fall in love, marry, and spend the next 60 years together. In present day, it’s revealed that Allie, now an old woman (played by Gena Rowlands), has Alzheimer’s, and her doting husband (James Garner, as an elderly Noah) helps her remember their storied past. In 2003, Sparks published a loose sequel called The Wedding, featuring the characters Allie and Noah. Here are 10 facts about the beloved romance, which arrived in theaters 15 years ago today.

1. It was based on a true story.

Nicholas Sparks’s book was based on his then-wife Cathy's grandparents, who spent more than 60 years together. Cathy was close to her grandparents, and visited them frequently. The grandparents were too ill to attend their wedding, in 1989, so the newly-married couple brought the wedding to them. They dressed up in their wedding clothes and surprised them at their house. Cathy's grandparents told the Sparks how they met and fell in love, decades ago.

“But though their story was wonderful, what I most remember from that day is the way they were treating each other,” Sparks wrote on his website. “The way his eyes shined when he looked at her, the way he held her hand, the way he got her tea and took care of her. I remember watching them together and thinking to myself that after 60 years of marriage, these two people were treating each other exactly the same as my wife and I were treating each other after 12 hours. What a wonderful gift they’d given us, I thought, to show us on our first day of marriage that true love can last forever.”

Unfortunately for Nicholas and Cathy, their love didn’t last forever—they divorced in 2015

2. Nicholas Sparks thinks the book was successful because it was relatable.


Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

“It seems that nearly everyone I spoke with about the novel knew a ‘Noah and Allie’ in their own life,” Sparks wrote on his website. He also said the book was short enough (224 pages) for people to read it quickly. “I think that readers also appreciate that the novel didn’t include foul language and its love scene was tasteful and mild compared to what’s found in many other novels,” he said. “These factors made people feel comfortable about recommending it to others.”

3. The screenwriter had to work hard to make the characters seem real.

The Notebook screenwriter Jeremy Leven had the daunting task of adapting Sparks's book into a script. “The problem with the book is that it’s melodramatic and sweet, and you have to find a way to appeal to an audience that is apprehensive about yet another sweet movie,” Leven told The Harvard Crimson. “So you have to give it an edge, make it real, and make the choices the characters face real.” That “edge” probably includes the love scene in the rain.

4. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling didn't get along—at first.


Melissa Moseley/New Line Cinema

Even though they played lovers in the movie and then began dating in real life, the couple clashed during production. Director Nick Cassavetes told MTV a story about an incident when Gosling and McAdams weren’t getting along on the set one day: “Ryan came to me, and there’s 150 people standing in this big scene, and he says, ‘Nick come here,’” Cassavetes shared. “And he’s doing a scene with Rachel and he says, ‘Would you take her out of here and bring in another actress to read off camera with me?’ I said, ‘What?’ We went into a room with a producer; they started screaming and yelling at each other ... The rest of the film wasn’t smooth sailing, but it was smoother sailing.”

5. McAdams and Gosling's on-screen chemistry probably wasn't real.

“[Our later relationship] certainly wasn’t something that either of us had expected would come out of that filmmaking experience,” McAdams said, “which goes to show you that you can engineer chemistry on-screen just by telling the audience that these two people love each other.” She said it was attributed to the acting. “As an actor you don’t have to feel it. You don’t have to feel anything. Just imagine it.”

6. Jessica Biel was bummed she didn't get to play Allie.


Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NBC

Unlike Gosling, McAdams had to audition for the role of Allie, and so did Jessica Biel. “I was in the middle of shooting Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and I auditioned with Ryan Gosling in my trailer—covered in blood,” Biel told Elle. “That’s one that I wanted so badly. But there’s a million that get away. We’re gluttons for punishment. It’s just rejection.”

7. McAdams felt a lot of pressure to deliver a great performance.

The actress told Film Monthly she knew she had to be good in the movie, because she had to carry it. “At first I put way too much pressure on myself and realized that it wasn’t getting me anywhere,” she said. “I was just a ball of stress, and eventually the character kicked in where she’s sort of free-spirited, doesn’t care what people think, and chases down those things she wants.” She eventually found the right balance.

8. James Marsden thought the movie was going to be "schmaltzy."


Melissa Moseley/New Line Cinema

James Marsden played Allie’s fiancé—and Noah’s rival—Lon Hammond Jr. The actor told Out Magazine how he tries not to make a bad movie, but they sometimes turn out that way. “Then there are some movies that I’ve been in that I was sure people would laugh at, that have become huge,” he said. “I thought The Notebook was going to be a schmaltzy Movie of the Week–type thing, and here we are!”

9. Nick Cassavetes was the fourth choice to direct the movie.

New Line Cinema acquired the rights to Sparks's novel in 1995, before the book was even published. In 1998, Variety reported that Steven Spielberg wanted to direct the film. Jim Sheridan was also interested, but he decided to direct In America instead. In 2001, The Mask of Zorro and GoldenEye director Martin Campbel almost signed on, but in 2002 New Line brought Cassavetes aboard.

10. James Garner ruined his first take shooting with Gena Rowlands.


Melissa Moseley/New Line Cinema

Nick Cassavetes—son of legendary director John Cassavetes—cast his mother, the great Gena Rowlands, as the elderly Allie. Garner recalled the first day he and Gena filmed together. “She's going to come out and I’m sitting on the porch in a chair or something. And I hear Nick say, ‘Okay, mom. Action.’ Well, I ruined that take because I just broke up. That was so funny. That tickled me to death. But he showed his mother great respect. He was gentle with her and worked with her. What I loved about it is that she listened to him. Here’s a professional actress who’s one of the best ever, and she’s listening to her son tell her about things. I really admired that in both of them.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

Alexander Skarsgård Could Have Played Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Larry Busacca, Getty Images
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Marvel fans may have trouble imagining Thor played by anyone other than Chris Hemsworth, but apparently, Alexander Skarsgård was pretty darn close to getting the role. How close, you ask? He tried on the costume, held the hammer, and even filmed an audition in the garb.

In 2009—just a year after True Blood premiered—the actor told MTV that he met with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and Thor director Kenneth Branagh about the part. “Yeah, I met with Kevin [Feige] a few times and the director,” he said. “There was definitely some truth in that, yeah.”

When the MTV interviewer said he thought the actor had the perfect look to bring Thor to life, Skarsgård simply replied, “So did I.”

But before you start to feel too sorry for Skarsgård, let's not forget the number of impressive roles the True Blood alum has landed. At the moment, he’s playing Perry Wright in HBO’s Big Little Lies, for which he won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

As for the Thor role, Hemsworth went on to play the God of Thunder in multiple films, and although his future in the MCU is not certain after Avengers: Endgame, the Australian actor confirmed he’d love to keep playing the character.

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