16 Fun Facts About Veronica Mars

The CW
The CW

Veronica Mars was a smart, funny, sometimes very real, teen noir drama that surprised critics and viewers with its unflinching look at how classes—both the high school kind and the kind that separate us all financially—can make or break who we are. Broadcast on UPN and The CW from 2004 to 2007, a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign brought the series back as a crowdfunded movie in 2014. Here are some things you might not know about the series that launched Kristen Bell's career, and aired its series finale 10 years ago, on May 22, 2007.

1. VERONICA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A GUY.

Series creator Rob Thomas (no, not the Matchbox Twenty guy) had written young adult books before turning to television. The idea for the series originated as the idea for a book, which would have featured a male protagonist.

2. APPROXIMATELY 100 ACTRESSES READ FOR THE ROLE OF VERONICA.

Kristen Bell was the first of the estimated 100 actors to audition for the lead. "Kristen was the very first actress I saw and my mind was blown," Thomas recalled at PaleyFest2014. As he auditioned the next 99 people for the part, "I kept thinking, 'Was that first girl as brilliant as I thought she was?'"

3. JASON DOHRING AUDITIONED FOR DUNCAN, AND TEDDY DUNN AUDITIONED FOR LOGAN.

Dohring of course ended up playing Logan, and Dunn played Duncan Kane. Logan was initially only supposed to be a guest star in the first episode.

4. THE SERIES WAS MOSTLY SHOT IN SAN DIEGO.

The fictitious Neptune High was in fact Oceanside High School. San Diego State University, and University of California-San Diego teamed up to portray Hearst College. The Tijuana border was actually in the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot, and the Balboa Park courtyard was reimagined as Cuba.

5. THE ACTOR PLAYING WALLACE WAS TIRED OF WALLACE DOING FAVORS FOR VERONICA.

Percy Daggs III asked Thomas early on in season one if Wallace could be made to be more funny and lighthearted, instead of just someone who gets files for Veronica. Eventually, his frustration came out of Wallace’s mouth on the show. Daggs also wanted to broach Wallace’s attraction to Veronica, but UPN didn’t want to get into that.

6. HARRY HAMLIN COULD HAVE RUINED THOMAS’S PLAN FOR THE BIG SEASON ONE MYSTERY.

Thomas always knew he wanted Logan’s father, Aaron (played by Hamlin), to be Lily’s killer. Hamlin had been scheduled to shoot a movie in Australia when the season one finale, “Leave it to Beaver,” was going to be filmed. Had he taken the movie role, Thomas would have had to change the ending. Instead, Hamlin decided to stick around. If it was leaked before air that Aaron was the killer, Tommy Dunn said they would have changed it to Duncan.

7. JAMES JORDAN PLAYED TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

In season two, James Jordan had a three-episode arc playing Thomas “Lucky” Dohanic. In season three he was brought back as Tim Foyle, an entirely different character.

8. JOSS WHEDON MADE A CAMEO.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer showrunner wrote on his blog that he had never been prouder for Buffy to be compared to any other show than he was when it was compared to Veronica Mars. The glowing review led Thomas to invite Whedon to play Car Rental Guy during the series' second season. Thomas also invited fan Stephen King to cameo as a “crazy sociology professor,” but the bestselling author had to decline. "We had a very kind note from him," said Thomas. "He said, 'I'm actually booked at that time, but I love your show. Keep me in mind for other things.'"

9. LOGAN AND DUNCAN WERE COLOR COORDINATED TO AVOID CONFUSION.

Duncan was purposely dressed in blues, and Logan in earth tones, as mandated by the network (whose executives were concerned that the actors looked too much alike).

10. THOMAS HAD NO INTENTION OF LOGAN AND VERONICA GETTING TOGETHER.

When Thomas and the writers watched dailies, they couldn’t ignore Bell and Dohring’s on-screen chemistry. Thomas informed the two after six episodes that they were eventually going to get together.

11. BEAVER WAS PLANNED AS SEASON TWO'S KILLER DURING SEASON ONE.

Poor Dick Casablancas’s brother’s motivation was plotted since he was first introduced during the show's first season.

12. "PIZ" WAS A NOD TO ONE OF THE SHOW'S DIRECTORS.

Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) was named after Mark Piznarski, who directed the show's pilot episode. Thomas described Stosh as being "very much in the Lloyd Dobler mold.” Lowell was surprised when he was asked to appear in the movie years later, as he didn't think his character was very well liked.

13. PAUL RUDD WAS ALMOST A RECURRING CHARACTER.

Paul Rudd was originally considered for the unscrupulous P.I. Vinnie Van Lowe, though that role eventually (and memorably) went to Ken Marino. Instead, Rudd appeared in a single episode (season three's “Debasement Tapes”) as a washed-up rock star named Desmond Fellows.

14. THOMAS ALMOST QUIT TO WRITE FOR ANOTHER SHOW.

After season two, Thomas was offered a writing job on Friday Night Lights. He opted to stick around and see his creation through for one more year.

15. A FOURTH SEASON WOULD HAVE SEEN VERONICA AS AN FBI AGENT.

Thomas made a 12-minute video showing both The CW and other networks what they would be getting if they brought Veronica Mars back for a fourth season in 2007. After skipping a few years past the events of the series finale, “The Bitch is Back,” Mars would have been a rookie agent with the FBI. Walton Goggins played her boss. No network bought it.

16. THOMAS RAISED $2 MILLION FOR THE MOVIE IN LESS THAN 11 HOURS.

When Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a Veronica Mars movie in 2013, his goal was to raise $2 million in 30 days. Within hours, he had surpassed that amount. By the end of the month, the campaign had raised a total of $5,702,153 from 91,585 backers, making it one of the most successful campaigns in the crowdfunding site's history. The movie was released in 2014.

15 Facts About Rushmore On Its 20th Anniversary

The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection

On December 11, 1998, Wes Anderson introduced the world to his unique brand of whimsical comedy with Rushmore. Though it wasn't his feature directorial debut—he had released Bottle Rocket, which he adapted from a short, in 1996—it was his first major Hollywood movie. And kicked off his still-ongoing collaborations with a stable of talented actors that includes Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. It was also the second film Anderson co-wrote with Owen Wilson.

To celebrate the quirky comedy's 20th anniversary, here are some things you might not know about Rushmore.

1. Rushmore Academy was the director's Alma Mater.

Wes Anderson sent location scouts across the United States and Canada to find the perfect high school to shoot the movie. He was having a tough time trying to find the school, until his mother sent him a picture of his old high school in Houston, Texas: St. John's School. Anderson thought it was the perfect location to make the movie.

2. Bill Murray wanted to make Rushmore for free.

Bill Murray in Rushmore (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Once Bill Murray read the screenplay, he wanted to be in the movie so badly that he considered appearing in it for free. Murray ended up working on Rushmore at scale with the Screen Actors Guild day rate minimum for smaller indie film projects. Anderson estimated that Murray made about $9000 for his work on the film.

3. Film critic Pauline Kael had a private screening.

Pauline Kael’s film criticism was a major influence on Anderson’s view of cinema. “Your thoughts and writing about the movies [have] been a very important source of inspiration for me and my movies, and I hope you don't regret that," he once wrote to her.

Kael retired from The New Yorker in 1991, so Anderson arranged for her to have a private screening of Rushmore before the film came out in 1998. He wrote about the screening in the introduction to the published version of the screenplay, and shared what Kael told him about the film: "I genuinely don't know what to make of this movie."

4. It was Jason Schwartzman’s first film role.

Casting directors searched throughout the United States, Canada, and England to find a young actor to play the lead role of Max Fischer. Australian actor Noah Taylor was the frontrunner for the part when, on the last day of casting in Los Angeles, Jason Schwartzman auditioned. He was wearing a prep school blazer with a Rushmore Academy patch that he made himself.

5. Owen Wilson's private school experiences inspired some of the movie's plot points.

As a sophomore at St. Mark High School in Dallas, Texas, Rushmore co-writer Owen Wilson was expelled for stealing his geometry teacher's textbook (the one that contained all the answers); he went to Thomas Jefferson High School to complete 10th grade. This was the inspiration for when Max is expelled from Rushmore Academy and is forced to attend Grover Cleveland High School.

Although Wilson doesn’t have a credited role in Rushmore, he does appear as Ms. Cross’s deceased husband, Edward Appleby, in a photo in Appleby’s childhood bedroom.

6. Wilson's Dad Inspired a Moment in the Movie.

Wilson’s father, Robert Wilson, was the inspiration for Herman Blume’s speech about privilege at the beginning of Rushmore.

7. Alexis Bledel was an extra in the film.


Getty Images

Before she starred as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, actress Alexis Bledel was an uncredited extra—she played a Grover Cleveland High School student—in Rushmore. You can see her in the background in various scenes, including dancing with the character Magnus Buchan (Stephen McCole) at the end of the film.

8. Both Anderson and Wilson's brothers had parts in the movie.

Owen and Luke Wilson’s older brother Andrew plays Rushmore Academy’s baseball coach, Coach Beck. He also appeared in Anderson’s directorial debut, Bottle Rocket, playing the bully John Mapplethorpe.

Eric Chase Anderson, Wes's brother, plays the architect who designs Max’s aquarium.

9. The Movie's Editor Made a Cameo.

Rushmore editor David Moritz plays the Dynamite Salesman; he sells Max the dynamite and explosives for his stage play Heaven and Hell at the end of the film.

10. Producers Made a Deal to get a Bentley.

Producers needed a Bentley for Murray's character, Herman Blume, but Rushmore’s production budget was only $20 million and they couldn’t afford to rent one. A Houston resident was willing to lend them his Bentley if they gave his daughter a role in the film. Producers agreed; the man's daughter plays an usher who seats Miss Cross at Max’s play at the end of the movie.

11. Mason Gamble's role in Dennis the Menace almost cost him the part of Dirk Calloway in Rushmore.

Mason Gamble in Rushmore (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Wilson referred to the character of Dirk Calloway, played by Mason Gamble, as the conscience of the film. Originally, Anderson didn’t want to cast Gamble in the part because of the actor’s previous—and very recognizable—role as Dennis Mitchell in the 1993 live-action movie Dennis the Menace.

12. Rushmore Upset Francis Ford Coppola.

Director Francis Ford Coppola owns a winery, and when he first saw Rushmore, he was upset with Anderson because he used Coppola’s chief Napa Valley wine rival during Max's post-play celebration. (It probably didn't help matters that Coppola is Schwartzman's uncle.)

13. Anderson's Brother Did the Movie's Criterion Collection Artwork.

The Criterion Collection edition of 'Rushmore' (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Eric Chase Anderson did the artwork for the Criterion Collection DVD cover, an interoperation of a shot from the montage of Max’s extracurricular activities at the beginning of the movie. The Yankee Racer shot is itself a recreation of a photo from French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue, taken in 1909 when he was only 15.

14. Schwartzman waxed his chest to play Max.

Although Max only shows his chest once in the film (during the high school wrestling match), Anderson made Schwartzman wax his chest for the duration of Rushmore's filming.

15. The Max Fischer Players Appeared on MTV.

During the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, the Max Fischer Players recreated the year's hit movies—The Truman Show, Armageddon, and Out of Sight—as stage plays.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2014.

Harry Potter Star Daniel Radcliffe Says Broadway Made Him a Better Actor

Dominik Bindl, Getty Images
Dominik Bindl, Getty Images

For 10 years, moviegoers watched as Daniel Radcliffe matured on film throughout eight Harry Potter films. But the 29-year-old recently revealed that he believes the bulk of his professional growth has occurred as a result of his Broadway stage work.

“It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe told Variety. “I feel like doing theater ... it was really very important for me psychologically.”

Radcliffe starred in a number of films after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final film in the franchise, including The Woman in Black, Now You See Me 2, and Lost in London. His Broadway credits include Equus, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The Cripple of Inishmaan.

“There’s something about doing it without an editor to save you, or a myriad of things in post-production that can help you out, something that made me go: ‘OK, I can act,’" Radcliffe continued. "I’ve grown a little bit as an actor every time I’ve gone back to the theater."

Radcliffe crediting his professional growth to working in theater may leave some Potterheads wondering if he thinks playing Harry Potter for so long held him back.

“Not professionally, at all,” he said. “There were moments when probably I coped with the personal effects of Harry Potter not as well as I could have. But professionally, no.”

According to Radcliffe, "There are directors that were, I think, excited to—I am quoting one of them here and I won’t say who—'reinvent' me.”

Radcliffe fans can gauge that reinvention for themselves with The Lifespan of a Fact, the new Broadway play starring Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale, and Cherry Jones. It is running at New York City's Studio 54 through January 13, 2019.

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