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15 Found Facts About Lost in Translation

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An aging actor (Bill Murray) and a neglected wife (Scarlett Johansson) made an unlikely pair in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. But their friendship resonated with audiences back in 2003, and their respective charms still entertain today. Here are a few things you might not have known about the film that earned Coppola an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and netted Murray his first (and so far only) Academy Award nomination.

1. SOFIA COPPOLA WANTED BILL MURRAY—AND ONLY BILL MURRAY—FOR THE LEAD ROLE.

Mutual friend Mitch Glazer showed Murray an early draft of Coppola’s script for the movie. Murray liked enough of what he read to meet Coppola at a downtown New York restaurant with some of his friends. Murray and Coppola talked for five hours, though very little of their conversation was about the movie. Murray agreed to do it, but did not sign a contract.

Though director Wes Anderson, who has worked with Murray on several films, assured Coppola that, “If [Murray] says he’s going to do it, he’ll show up,” she was nervous. Especially considering that $1 million had already been spent on the film in pre-production. “It was nerve-wracking,” Coppola told Filmmaker Magazine. One week before filming was scheduled to commence, Murray arrived in Tokyo.

2. COPPOLA HAD LONG WANTED TO SHOOT A MOVIE AT THE PARK HYATT TOKYO HOTEL.

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Coppola had stayed at the hotel while promoting her first feature, 1999's The Virgin Suicides, and it became one of her “favorite places in the world.” It took some convincing for the hotel to agree to allow Coppola to shoot there, which is why they were only allowed to shoot in the middle of the night, in hallways and communal areas, so as not to disturb the hotel's guests. They weren't always successful; when one guest complained about Bill Murray's loud singing, Murray asked the man—in Japanese—“Who do you think you’re talking to?,” which sent the guest running scared back to his room.

3. COPPOLA COMPARED MURRAY AND SCARLETT JOHANSSON TO BOGART AND BACALL.

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The writer/director was inspired by Bogart and Bacall’s relationship in The Big Sleep when writing and later filming Bob and Charlotte. Coppola said she envisioned Johansson as a “young Lauren Bacall-type girl.”

4. THE OPENING SHOT WAS BASED ON A JOHN KACERE PAINTING.

Kacere was known for his photorealistic paintings of the midsections of underwear-clad women. And Coppola had a very specific idea of how she wanted the film to open, which included Johansson in a pair of sheer pink underwear, but it took some convincing on Coppola's part. "I told Sofia ... 'I'll wear underwear, if it isn't sheer,'" Johansson told The Guardian. "I had to wear underwear, like, the whole movie. It became very easy for me to trounce around in my underwear, in front of a large group of Japanese men. A skill I probably won't utilize again, admittedly. But sheer ... sheer was ... different.'" It wasn't until Coppola herself modeled the intended wardrobe that Johansson came around.

5. MURRAY WASN’T TOLD WHAT THE DIRECTOR WAS SAYING TO HIM IN THE COMMERCIAL SHOOT.

Coppola wrote the scene in English before having it translated into Japanese, but never told her star actor what was being said in order to make his confusion more real. She based it on an incident that occurred while she was promoting The Virgin Suicides, when her Japanese interpreter would speak for much longer than she did.

6. HARRISON FORD WAS MURRAY’S INSPIRATION.

Bob Harris’s camera mug was modeled after Harrison Ford’s, whose face was on billboards all over Tokyo at the time, promoting beer.

7. THE COMMERCIAL SHOOT WAS INSPIRED BY SOFIA’S FATHER.

In 1980, Francis Ford Coppola and Akira Kurosawa collaborated on directing some ads for Suntory Whisky at the Coppolas's home in San Francisco.

8. FRANCIS CONVINCED SOFIA TO SHOOT THE MOVIE ON FILM.

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He told her, “You might as well shoot film. It’s not going to be around very much longer.” She listened.

9. THE LOCATION MANAGER RESIGNED.

When the filmmakers overstayed their welcome at the shabu-shabu restaurant, the owner simply turned the lights out, forcing Coppola to finish shooting the take in the dark. The incident, however, prompted the location manager to resign. The crew didn’t have permits and shot illegally on the subway and on some streets. Charlotte crossing the street was shot in a Starbucks that overlooked the road. (They paid for their coffee.)

10. MURRAY IMPROVISED.

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For the scene in the sushi bar, Coppola simply wrote "he tries to make her laugh" in the script. Murray did the rest.

11. COPPOLA AND MURRAY TALKED OF THEIR LOVE OF ROXY MUSIC BEFORE HE SANG IT.

Bob Harris’s rendition of “More Than This” at the karaoke bar was performed without knowing whether Coppola had the rights to use it. Eventually they managed to get permission from the group.

12. COPPOLA SWEARS THAT ANNA FARIS’S CHARACTER WAS NOT BASED ON CAMERON DIAZ.

"The character of the actress was based on a bunch of people—just that type," Coppola told The Daily Beast. "I could probably name eight people that she was based on, just that bubbly, extroverted blonde that you see on talk shows." Coppola did allow that Charlotte and John’s (Giovanni Ribisi) marriage was based on her then-new marriage to fellow filmmaker Spike Jonze (they divorced the same year Lost in Translation was released.)

13. MURRAY AND JOHANSSON NEEDED AN EXTRA DAY WITH THE SCENE IN BED.

Coppola claimed it was the toughest scene to film. "I don’t know if they just weren’t in a good mood, but they weren’t getting along and it wasn’t going well," Coppola told The Daily Beast. "So we just stopped and tried again the next day. I just remember it being a bit tense, but it’s just such an intimate moment."

14. MURRAY WAS JETLAGGED.

Johansson said she felt “busy, vulnerable, and tired” during the 27 days of filming. She claimed Murray’s comedic persona was either "on" or "off." Murray himself chalked it up to not being able to sleep when he wanted to.

15. NOBODY KNOWS FOR SURE WHAT BOB SAID TO CHARLOTTE IN THE END.

Some digital processing performed by curious Internet folk have drawn different conclusions. Some versions indicate that Bob tells Charlotte to tell her husband John “the truth.” In the script, Coppola wrote Bob's line as, “I know, I’m going to miss you, too.” Back in 2003, Bill Murray was asked if we can know what he said. His response: “You never will.”

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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