12 Facts About Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, and Jason Statham in 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' (1998)
Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, and Jason Statham in 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' (1998)
Polgram Entertainment

Now he’s the guy who made those frenetic Sherlock Holmes movies, turned Aladdin into a live-action film, and used to be married to Madonna. But Guy Ritchie was once the guy who made Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a smash hit in England, a cult hit in the U.S., and the instigator of a new cycle of rough British crime comedies. Not bad for a guy’s first feature film. Grab a cup of tea (the entire British Empire was built on them, you know), and enjoy these tidbits about some of London’s most unsavory characters as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

1. Trudie Styler helped get it made.

Trudie Styler, a producer, actress, and wife of Sting, found the screenplay for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in the mid-1990s and basically loved it. What she didn’t love was the presentation: “It wasn’t an easy read,” she said. “It was a very long, rambling screenplay with terrible typos, and really poorly presented.” (Sounds like Guy Ritchie is even more similar to Quentin Tarantino than we realized.) Fortunately, the substance of what Ritchie was trying to achieve shone through his inelegant presentation. He’d also made a short film, The Hard Case, that showed Styler his potential.

2. Tom Cruise helped get it released in the U.S.

The film was having trouble finding an American distributor when Styler called an acquaintance of hers, a movie star named Tom Cruise. Would he be interested in attending a screening for potential buyers in Hollywood? Not to become a buyer himself, necessarily, but just to see the movie? Cruise went to the screening, surrounded by suits and number-crunchers, and was a vocal and enthusiastic viewer. Producer Matthew Vaughn later recalled, “It was hysterical. You had all these mid-level executives sitting there, and Cruise walked in. He saw them all sit up and pay attention, all getting on their phones, and suddenly all these senior executives joined the screening … At the end, Tom got up in front of everyone and said ‘This is the best movie I’ve seen in years, you guys would be fools not to buy it.’”

3. Brad Pitt was a fan, too—which is why he's in Snatch.

When Brad Pitt sees a movie he loves, he’s been known to call the person who made it. That’s exactly what he did with Guy Ritchie. “He called me and told me that he wanted to be part of whatever I was doing next,” the director told Esquire. That turned out to be Snatch. Pitt and Ritchie remain friends to this day (or to the day of that 2013 Esquire interview, anyway).

4. The original budget was unrealistic for a first-timer.

The budget for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels started out at £20 million (which would be nearly $45 million today) and was gradually reduced to a more reasonable £800,000 (or about $1.8 million). The initial budget was probably unrealistic for a first-time filmmaker anyway, though it’s indicative of how highly regarded Ritchie’s screenplay was (typos and all). After a flurry of excitement, and even some auditions and casting, much of the financing fell through and the project was postponed. Ritchie started making cuts (including everyone’s salary) and found new backers (including his own godparents), but it took a couple years. By that time, the slick production had become a scrappy, low-budget one, which probably better suited the underdog tone of the story anyway.

5. Ray Winstone was supposed to play Hatchet Harry.

Ray Winstone
Stuart Wilson, Getty Images

The English character actor was originally cast in the role, but had to drop out when the aforementioned delays screwed up the schedule. He was replaced by P.H. Moriarty. Fittingly, Winstone went on to star in Sexy Beast (2000), a British gangster film clearly inspired by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

6. The joke about someone forgetting to bring the guns was added because ... someone forgot to bring the guns.

“Have you forgotten those guns, you dozy prat?” Bacon (Jason Statham) asks when the guys are preparing to rob the other gang of robbers, about 73 minutes into the film. As it turns out, someone had indeed neglected to bring the prop guns to the set that day. With no time to retrieve them, Ritchie had Statham make a joke out of it.

7. Jason Statham was selling fake perfume on the street when Guy Ritchie found him.

Jason Statham
Bennett Raglin, Getty Images for BET

Statham was doing some modeling work in the mid-1990s, but to supplement his income he also sold fake jewelry and perfume on street corners—“hustling,” as he put it. (His dear old dad had done the same in his day.) It was in this capacity that he was introduced to Ritchie, who needed a con artist for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and who’d already cast Statham’s friend, Vinnie Jones. It was the beginning of Statham’s acting career, and presumably the end of his fake-perfume-and-jewelry-vending career.

8. Of the 44 speaking roles, at least 17 were played by people who had never acted on film or TV before.

To get the film made, Ritchie called in favors and even put crew members to work in front of the camera. He also cast a lot of unknown (read: inexpensive) fledgling actors. A handful of them, like Statham and former soccer player Vinnie Jones, went on to have acting careers. Several others didn’t, either staying behind the scenes or leaving the business altogether.

9. Madonna liked the soundtrack so much, she released it on her label (then married the movie's director).

The Queen of Pop was among the movie’s famous fans, and was particularly fond of its eclectic Brit-rock soundtrack. She contacted Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn and asked if her label, Maverick, could release the film’s soundtrack in the U.S. Ritchie said she “wined and dined” them in Hollywood a few times, but that it was Vaughn she was romantically interested in, not him. Madonna and Ritchie did start dating, though. They were married in 2000 (and divorced in 2008).

10. It got a new ending after test screenings.

The movie originally left things open-ended, with the four main characters walking off with the money and Big Chris (Vinnie Jones) and his son about to follow them to get it back. Test audiences didn’t care for it. Scrambling, Ritchie came up with the new, more elaborate finale (written “on the back of a [cigarette] packet,” according to star Nick Moran, who played Eddy), and the cast was reassembled to film it some months after the initial shoot had ended. One problem: Jason Flemyng, who plays Tom, had grown his hair out for another project and couldn’t cut it, which is why Tom wears a stocking cap in the last several minutes of the movie.

11. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer was left on the cutting room floor.

Claudia Schiffer played Eddy’s girlfriend, but was cut from the film entirely after test screenings. (The movie doesn’t have much use for female characters in general.) Happy ending, though: it was here that she met producer Matthew Vaughn, whom she later married.

12. It was turned into a TV show.

Lock, Stock... (as it was called) ran for seven episodes in the U.K. in the summer of 2000, centering on the occasionally criminal adventures of four friends who run a London pub called The Lock. None of the movie’s cast members were involved, and all of the characters except Bacon were renamed (or maybe it’s a different Bacon, who knows?). Guy Ritchie co-wrote the pilot but otherwise was not heavily involved.

The article originally ran in 2015.

The Very Real Events That Inspired Game of Thrones's Red Wedding

Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham, Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ask any Game of Thrones fan to cite a few of the show's most shocking moments, and the so-called "Red Wedding" from season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" episode will likely be at the top of their list. The events that unfolded during the episode shocked fans because of their brutality, but what might be even more surprising to know is that the episode was based on very real events.

Author George R.R. Martin has said that the inspiration for the matrimonial bloodbath is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and 1692's Massacre of Glencoe. “No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. And he’s absolutely right. See for yourself.

The Massacre of Glencoe

The West Highland Way in 2005, view from the summit of the Devil's Staircase looking south over the east end of Glen Coe, towards Buachaille Etive Mòr with Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh beyond
Colin Souza, Edited by Dave Souza, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

In 1691, all Scottish clans were called upon to renounce the deposed King of Scotland, James VII, and swear allegiance to King William of Orange (of William and Mary fame). The chief of each clan had until January 1, 1692, to provide a signed document swearing an oath to William. The Highland Clan MacDonald had two things working against them here. First of all, the Secretary of State, John Dalrymple, was a Lowlander who loathed Clan MacDonald. Secondly, Clan MacDonald had already sworn an oath to James VII and had to wait on him to send word that they were free to break that oath.

Unfortunately, it was December 28 before a messenger arrived with this all-important letter from the former king. That gave Maclain, the chief of the MacDonald clan, just three days to get the newly-signed oath to the Secretary of State.

Maclain was detained for days when he went through Inveraray, the town of the rival Clan Campbell, but still managed to deliver the oath, albeit several days late. The Secretary of State’s legal team wasn't interested in late documents. They rejected the MacDonalds's sworn allegiance to William, and set plans in place to cut the clan down, “root and branch.”

In late January or early February, 120 men under the command of Captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonalds's in Glencoe, claiming to need shelter because a nearby fort was full. The MacDonalds offered their hospitality, as was custom, and the soldiers stayed there for nearly two weeks before Captain Drummond arrived with instructions to “put all to the sword under seventy.”

After playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, the soldiers waited until the MacDonalds were asleep ... then murdered as many men as they could manage. In all, 38 people—some still in their beds—were killed. At least 40 women and children escaped, but fleeing into a blizzard blowing outside as their houses burned down meant that they all died of exposure.

The massacre was considered especially awful because it was “Slaughter Under Trust.” To this day, the door at Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe has a sign on the door that says "No hawkers or Campbells."

The Black Dinner

In November of 1440, the newly-appointed 6th Earl of Douglas, who was just 16, and his little brother David, were invited to join the 10-year-old King of Scotland, James II, for dinner at Edinburgh Castle. But it wasn’t the young King who had invited the Douglas brothers. The invitation had been issued by Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Black Douglas (there was another clan called the Red Douglas) were growing too powerful.

As legend has it, the children were all getting along marvelously, enjoying food, entertainment and talking until the end of the dinner, when the head of a black bull was dropped on the table, symbolizing the death of the Black Douglas. The two young Douglases were dragged outside, given a mock trial, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded. It’s said that the Earl pleaded for his brother to be killed first so that the younger boy wouldn’t have to witness his older brother’s beheading.

Sir Walter Scott wrote this of the horrific event:

"Edinburgh Castle, toune and towre,
God grant thou sink for sin!
And that e'en for the black dinner
Earl Douglas gat therein."

This article has been updated for 2019.

15 Game of Thrones Products Every Fan Needs

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Though Game of Thrones might be coming to its official end, that doesn’t mean that your fandom can’t—or won’t—carry on. Whether you’re a years-long defender of House Stark or have been rooting for House Targaryen since the beginning, there’s a candle, collectible pin, coffee mug, card game, and pretty much anything else you can imagine with your name (and preferred sigil) on it.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire Book Series; $46

Bantam's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series

Bantam, Amazon

If you’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the series is based, plenty more Westerosi drama awaits. And just because you’ve seen every episode of the series 10 times doesn’t mean you know which way the books will turn. (The TV show diverged from their narrative a long time ago—and dozens of the characters who have been killed off on your television screen are still alive and well in the books.) Plus, as Martin has yet to complete the series, you may just catch up in time for the newest book.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Map Marker Wine Stopper Set; $50

Nobody solves a problem like Tyrion Lannister … and his thought process usually includes copious amounts of wine (Dornish if you’ve got it). Something tells us you’re going need some vino yourself to get through the giant, hour-long hole left in your Sunday nights once Game of Thrones officially ends. Make sure you don’t let a drop of it go to waste by keeping one of these six wine stoppers—each one carved to represent the sigil of the most noble houses in the Seven Kingdoms—handy.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

3. Winterfell Coffee Mug; $25

If coffee is more your speed—we get it: the night is dark and full of terrors—this simple-yet-elegant Winterfell mug is an easy way to communicate to your co-workers why you’re typically a little bleary-eyed on Monday mornings.

Buy it: HBO Shop

4. Hodor Door Stop; $12

A 3D-printed Hodor door stop, inspired by 'Game of Thrones'

3D Cauldron, Amazon

An important part of being a Game of Thrones fan is accepting that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have no problem killing off your favorite characters, often in brutal ways. One of the series’ most memorable deaths was that of Hodor, Bran Stark’s personal mode of transport, who we loved despite the fact that the only word he ever uttered for six seasons was “Hodor”—and who we loved even more when, in the final moments of his life, we learned why that was the case. Pay tribute to the gentle giant, and his backstory, with this 3D-printed door stop.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Tarot Card Deck; $25

A 'Game of Thrones' tarot card deck, from Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books, Amazon

Channel your inner Maggy the Frog and see what the future holds for you and your loved ones (your enemies, too, if the mood strikes you) with Chronicle Books’s gorgeously packaged tarot card deck. The tarot tradition and Game of Thrones mythology blend seamlessly together in this box of goodies, which includes an instruction book and illustrated cards featuring your favorite characters and most beloved scenes from the show.

Buy it: Amazon or Chronicle Books

6. Fire and Blood Candle; $12

Mad Queen or not, show that you still stand behind the Mother of Dragons by filling your home with this House Targaryen-inspired votive candle. Best of all: Just wait to see the look on the faces of your guests when they ask “Mmmm … what’s that smell?” If you’d prefer not to answer with “fire and blood—doesn’t it smell delicious?,” there are other scents available: one called "Moon of My Life My Sun and Stars," another called "Be a Dragon," and one inspired by the Iron Throne itself (which must smell like victory).

Buy it: HBO Shop

7. Clue: Game of Thrones; $50

Margaery Tyrell with the battle axe in Cersei’s bedchambers. Rewrite the rules—and brutal deaths—of Game of Thrones with this special edition of the classic board game, which tasks you with figuring out who murdered whom, using what weapon, and where the incident took place. A double-sided playing board lets you choose whether you want to set the game in The Red Keep or Meereen.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

8. Game of Thrones Monopoly; $24

'Game of Thrones Monopoly' game board

Hasbro, Amazon

Who wants to be the Lord or Lady of Winterfell when you can become the preeminent real estate mogul of all the Seven Kingdoms? This special-edition Monopoly board puts a distinctly Westerosian twist on the classic game, with silver tokens to represent the sigils of each of the main houses and a card holder that plays the series’ haunting score whenever you press it.

Buy it: Amazon or Best Buy

9. House Stark Hoodie; $60

If you really wanted to dress like a Stark, you’d have a master blacksmith on hand to help customize your armor—or at least turn your IKEA rug into a luxurious cape. If you’re far less crafty, there’s always this full-zip hoodie featuring an embroidered direwolf on the front and an outlined illustration of the same on the back. The minimalist design is a way to show your fandom in a way that, to the untrained eye, might just look like you’re a fan of wolves. But the rest of us will know better. And approve.

Buy it: ThinkGeek

10. Deluxe Iron Throne Funko Pop! Set; $130

Funko's Iron Throne Pop! set of five

Funko, HBO Shop

Though it seems unlikely that a few of these characters will ever sit on the Iron Throne (either because they’re dead or have gone mad), a fan can always hope. And buying them as part of this five-piece set is an easy way to collect them all. If you don’t see your favorite character here, Amazon has got plenty more squat-headed figures to choose from, including Arya, Brienne of Tarth, Rhaegal (poor Rhaegal), and Ghost (poor Ghost). If you ever happen upon a headless Ned Stark Pop!, grab it; this hard-to-find figure can sell for more than $2000 on eBay.

Buy it: HBO Shop

11. Iron Throne Bookend; $60

After devoting more than eight years of your life to seeing Game of Thrones all the way through, maybe it’s you who deserves the Iron Throne. You can’t sit on this 7.5-inch replica, the base of which features sigils from all the noble houses, but you can show off your fancy George R.R. Martin book collection … or all that dragon fan fiction you’ve been working on.

Buy it: Best Buy or the HBO Shop

12. Game of Thrones Music Box; $13

'Game of Thrones' music box

Shenzhen Youtang Trade Co., Amazon

Channel your inner Arya by psyching yourself up with the iconic Game of Thrones theme song whenever you feel the need to hear it with this hand-cranked music box.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Iron Throne Tankard; $70

Show your guests who's boss at your next dinner party—or raucous feast—as you take your place at the head of the table and guzzle your mead (or giant's milk—we don't judge) from this Iron Throne-themed tankard, completed with sword handle.

Buy it: HBO Shop

14. Game of Thrones Socks; $8

It gets cold in the North. Keep your tootsies warm with this six-pack of stylish ankle-cut socks.

Buy it: Target

15. Living Language Dothraki; $16

A copy of the Living Language Dothraki language course

Living Language, Amazon

By now, you've surely learned at least a handful of common Dothraki words and phrases. But if you wan to become fluent in the (fictional) language, this language course is one way to do it. Now: Finne zhavvorsa anni?

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and 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!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER