17 Truthful Facts About A Few Good Men

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Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin first came to the public's attention after writing the legal drama A Few Good Men, first as a play, then as a film. Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore starred in the 1992 Rob Reiner-directed movie about two U.S. Marines who are court-martialed for the murder of a fellow Marine, purportedly under orders from their higher-ups. Here are some truths about the critically-acclaimed courtroom drama that you can definitely handle.

1. AARON SORKIN WROTE THE PLAY ON BAR NAPKINS WHILE BARTENDING.

Sorkin’s older sister, Deborah, had recently joined the Navy JAG Corps fresh from graduating from law school when she called him one Sunday morning. Deborah told Aaron about a case she was working on involving a hazing gone wrong at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, where the accused said they were ordered to do it by a superior, involving a “Code Red.” Sorkin then went to work as a bartender at Broadway's Palace Theatre. While patrons were taking in the first act of La Cage aux Folles, he began writing A Few Good Men on some cocktail napkins. He went home that night and typed up what he had written on the napkins on a Mac 512 K he shared with his roommates, and continued to do so until he was finished.

2. LINDA HAMILTON AND JODIE FOSTER AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF LT. COMMANDER GALLOWAY.

A then-eight-months-pregnant Demi Moore ended up getting the part, and was paid $2 million for the role.

3. JASON ALEXANDER WAS SET TO PLAY LT. SAM WEINBERG.

But when Seinfeld was renewed by NBC for a second season, he was no longer available. Reiner then gave Kevin Pollak the part after he read with Cruise.

4. TOM CRUISE SAW THE BROADWAY PLAY BEFORE SIGNING ON TO PLAY LT. KAFFEE.

He also insisted on learning all of the “legalese” dialogue in the script.

5. LANCE CPL. HAROLD DAWSON WAS PLAYED BY ROB REINER’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT.

Wolfgang Bodison started in the mail room at Reiner’s production company, Castle Rock, before becoming a production assistant, then Reiner’s personal assistant on Misery. He was scouting locations for A Few Good Men when Reiner decided Bodison looked like a Marine and that he should act in the film. Bodison has gone on to act in other films, as well as write and direct.

6. JOSHUA MALINA WAS IN BOTH THE BROADWAY PLAY AND THE MOVIE.

Frequent Sorkin collaborator Joshua Malina played PFC Downey for the last six to eight months of the stage production. He played Tom, Colonel Jessup’s clerk, in the movie. It was his first feature film role.

7. DESCENDANTS OF HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS TOOK PART IN THE PRODUCTION.

Frank Capra III was first assistant director. Marlene Dietrich’s grandson, J. Michael Riva, was the production designer.

8. JACK NICHOLSON WAS PAID $5 MILLION FOR 10 DAYS OF WORK.

Nicholson, as Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, was in just three scenes in the entire movie. Technically he worked an extra morning for free when Reiner and crew didn’t get all of his footage shot in time.

9. NICHOLSON DID A LOT MORE WORK THAN HE HAD TO.

He recited the famous courtroom speech an estimated 40 to 50 times, at full intensity every time—even for all of the shots that were of Cruise, Moore, Pollak, Kevin Bacon, and the rest of the courtroom simply reacting to what he was saying. Nicholson said he was “quite spent” by the time he finished.

10. A LOT OF DEFERENCE WAS SHOWN TO NICHOLSON.

The three-time Oscar winner told Reiner he noticed that when he walked into the first rehearsal, the rest of the cast rushed to their seats. "Afterward I told him, 'Rob, it was so strange I felt like the (expletive) Lincoln Memorial,'" Nicholson told the Los Angeles Times. "I blushed actually."

11. KEVIN POLLAK’S MOTHER HIT ON JACK NICHOLSON.

Pollak wrote about the incident in his book, How I Slept My Way to the Middle, and recalled the story during an appearance on Conan.

12. REINER THOUGHT ONE LINE OF DIALOGUE WAS MUCH FUNNIER.

After Galloway tells Kaffee and Weinberg she has the medical reports and Chinese food, she suggests they eat first. After a beat, Weinberg asks, “You got any Kung Pao chicken?” Reiner thought it should have gotten a laugh. He claimed it never did.

13. KIEFER SUTHERLAND WAS A BAD DRIVER.

Multiple takes were needed for a scene in which Kiefer Sutherland's Lt. Kendrick drives the legal team around the base, after he clipped a couple of Marines. He wasn’t used to driving a military Jeep.

14. SORKIN MADE A CAMEO.

Fittingly, he’s in a bar scene, as one lawyer talking to a woman about a case.

15. THERE WAS A LOT OF DISCUSSION ABOUT GALLOWAY.

An unnamed executive gave Sorkin the note: "If Tom Cruise and Demi Moore aren't going to sleep with each other, why is Demi Moore a woman?" His response? "I said the obvious answer: Women have purposes other than to sleep with Tom Cruise." He claimed the incident was his worst experience as a screenwriter.

Demi Moore said she really wanted the part in the first place because Galloway was a “genderless” role. Roger Ebert in his 2.5 star review wrote that a friend of his intuited that Galloway was originally written as a man. In Sorkin’s third draft of the screenplay, dated months before shooting, the movie ends with Kaffee asking Galloway out on a date. She responds by telling him to wear matching socks, like she did before the first day of the trial. That exchange did not make it into the movie.

16. THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT REFUSED TO ENDORSE THE FILM.

This meant that the filmmakers couldn't utilize any military installations during filming. Most of A Few Good Men was shot on a Culver City soundstage.

17. FOUR LAWYERS HAVE CLAIMED KAFFEE WAS BASED ON THEM.

The men all played a role in Deborah Sorkin’s Guantanamo Bay case, where 10 Marines faced assault charges, each with his own lawyer. One advertised on his law firm’s website that his exploits became the basis for Kaffee, and it was great for his career. Through a spokesman, Sorkin told The New York Times that Kaffee wasn’t based on anybody.

Jessup was though, according to Jack Nicholson, who recalled two Marine generals who were on set as consultants. They both knew the actual Jessup and his story.

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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