15 Splendid Facts About Four Weddings and a Funeral

MGM Studios
MGM Studios

Seemingly giving rise to the popularity of British rom-coms and launching the career of Hugh Grant, the Oscar-nominated Four Weddings and a Funeral documents the romantic misadventures of a group of friends—led by Grant's Charles—who attend, you guessed it, four weddings and a funeral.

1. SCREENWRITER RICHARD CURTIS HAD PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE WITH WEDDINGS.

Richard Curtis (co-creator of Mr. Bean and writer-director of Love Actually) told some publications that he had attended 65 weddings in 11 years, then upped the number to 72. The writer came up with the idea for the film after a girl at one of those many weddings wanted to spend the night with him. Curtis turned the offer down and said he had regretted it ever since. He also said he wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral partially to explain to his mother why he had never married. It took Curtis 17 drafts to come up with the final script.

2. HUGH GRANT WAS NOT THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY CHARLES.

When auditioning for the role that would make him famous, Grant (Bitter Moon, The Remains of the Day) gave producers a tape of his best man wedding speech to his brother, where he kept making fun of the groom’s eye sty. Grant claimed that he was "very much unwanted. Richard Curtis did everything in his power to stop me getting the part after the audition. I remember it was a very traumatic audition." Curtis admitted it was true, saying he thought Grant was “too handsome” for the part. At one point, Alan Rickman was set to play Charles; Alex Jennings (who later played Prince Charles in The Queen) was reportedly Curtis’ first choice for the lead.

3. JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN WAS ORIGINALLY CAST AS CARRIE.

Jeanne Tripplehorn was cast in the role, but had to drop out because of a death in her family. Marisa Tomei was also offered the part, but similarly turned the opportunity down because her grandfather was very sick. It was reported that Sarah Jessica Parker was Curtis’ top choice.

4. ANDIE MACDOWELL WAS INSPIRED BY KATHARINE HEPBURN.

Andie MacDowell wanted to play a character different than her sexually repressed character Ann in Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989). She was inspired by Katharine Hepburn because Carrie was, as MacDowell explained to Entertainment Weekly in 1994, “the kind of role she would have played 40 years earlier. She was forthright, the one with power and intelligence, and the guts to say and do exactly what she wanted.”

5. MIKE NEWELL’S AGENT’S ASSISTANT CONVINCED HIM TO TAKE THE DIRECTING JOB.

Mike Newell (Enchanted April, Donnie Brasco) was known to be picky. "It was handed to me in my agent's office by a very bright and forthright assistant who, knowing that I said 'No' to everything, sort of hit me in the chest with it and said, 'You should do that,’” the director recalled of getting the screenplay.

6. EXTRAS WORE THEIR OWN WEDDING CLOTHES.

Conservative MP Amber Rudd helped the producers out for the movie, getting dignitaries such as the Earl of Burlington and Simon Marquis, 3rd Earl of Woolton to make unpaid cameos (or accept an extra’s pay). Her help landed Rudd an “Aristocracy Coordinator” title in the credits.

7. THE BUDGET WAS ONLY 2.7 MILLION POUNDS.

The film was shot for £2.7 million, or roughly $4.4 million. It was so low-budget that the cinematographer Michael Coulter got the establishing shot of the Scottish wilderness while on vacation, and the same vicar—played by Rowan Atkinson—appeared at two of the four weddings so they wouldn’t have to pay two different actors. It was all shot in 36 days.

8. HUGH GRANT WAS PAID LESS THAN $60,000 FOR THE ROLE.

In today's dollars, Grant's payment for the part would equal $58,072. He was initially going to be paid £35,000; his agent asked for an additional £5,000.

9. GRANT WAS DEALING WITH ALLERGIES.

He had a bout of hay fever during production.

10. CURTIS HAD A REASON FOR NEVER REVEALING MOST OF THE CHARACTERS’ OCCUPATIONS.

“My argument was that when you’re hanging around with your friends, you don’t explain who you are," Curtis explained. " You don’t say, ‘Hello, Charles Bennett. How’s life at the bank since your father died?’"

11. AMERICAN FINANCIERS HAD A PROBLEM WITH ALL THE CURSING AND SEXUAL CONTENT.

They faxed notes claiming the sexual content and bad language would hurt the chances of Four Weddings and a Funeral being broadcast on American television, and specifically insisted on no oral sex or “excessive thrusting and screaming” orgasms. The U.S. distributors managed to have Newell and the actors re-shoot the first scene so that Grant says “bugger” instead of the F-word for a more family-friendly version to exist.

12. AT THE FIRST AMERICAN SCREENING, SOME PEOPLE WALKED OUT.

It was in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 30 person, Mormon-filled town council left the theater after witnessing the version of the opening scene with Charles saying "f**k." It was Grant’s first time seeing the entire film and he thought the walk-outs were a bad sign.

13. STUDIO EXECUTIVES WANTED THE TITLE CHANGED.

One claimed the title Four Weddings and a Funeral would turn men off from seeing it. Suggested alternatives included True Love and Near Misses, Loitering in Sacred Places, Rolling in the Aisles, Skulking Around, Toffs On Heat, Charles and Chums, and The Wedding Season.

14. SOME PEOPLE AT THE BRITISH PREMIERE WORE WEDDING DRESSES.

It was Richard Curtis’ idea. Two hundred of the 2000 people in attendance at Odeon Leicester Square got into the spirit. The wedding dresses were upstaged by Grant’s date, Elizabeth Hurley, and her famous black Versace dress, which was held together with oversized safety pins.

15. ANDIE MACDOWELL DEFENDS THE LINE EVERYONE MADE FUN OF.

MacDowell found herself having to defend the corny line about not noticing the rain. “‘The character was so in love, she wasn’t thinking about the fricking rain,” the actress told The Daily Mail. “I think perhaps it was raining a bit hard for the line. But that wasn’t my fault. Mike Newell was directing. I wasn’t going to disagree with him.” She said the scene was filmed in “six or seven” takes, and that nobody on the cast or crew thought “I didn’t notice” would become so well-known.

20 Facts About Eyes Wide Shut On Its 20th Anniversary

Warner Bros./Liaison via Getty Images Plus
Warner Bros./Liaison via Getty Images Plus

In the late 1990s, stories about what was happening on the set of Stanley Kubrick’s already-secretive film Eyes Wide Shut constantly made headlines. Everyone wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes with real-life celebrity couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and the 15-month shoot only intrigued people more. Finally, the film was released on July 16, 1999—more than four months after Kubrick had passed away. While there is still a lot we don’t know about the movie, here are 20 things we do.

1. Eyes Wide Shut is based on a 1926 novella.

Eyes Wide Shut is loosely is based on Arthur Schnitzler’s novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story), which was published in 1926. Considering that the movie takes place in 1990s New York, it is obviously not a direct adaptation, but it overlaps in its plot and themes. “[The book] explores the sexual ambivalence of a happy marriage and tries to equate the importance of sexual dreams and might-have-beens with reality,” Kubrick said. “The book opposes the real adventures of a husband and the fantasy adventures of his wife, and asks the question: is there a serious difference between dreaming a sexual adventure, and actually having one?”

2. Production on Eyes Wide Shut began in 1996.

By then, Kubrick had been holding onto the rights to Traumnovelle—which screenwriter Jay Cocks purchased on his behalf, in order to keep the project under wraps—for nearly 30 years. Kubrick had planned to begin working on the film after making 2001: A Space Odyssey, but then got the opportunity to adapt A Clockwork Orange.

3. The studio pushed Stanley Kubrick to cast A-list names.

Terry Semel, then-head of Warner Bros., told Kubrick, “What I would really love you to consider is a movie star in the lead role; you haven't done that since Jack Nicholson [in The Shining].”

4. Stanley Kubrick wanted to cast Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

Kubrick liked the idea of casting a real-life married couple in the film, and originally considered Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. (He also liked the idea of Steve Martin.) Eventually, he went with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were married from 1990 to 2001.

5. London stood in for New York City.

Though the film is set in New York, it was filmed in London. In order to construct the most accurate sets possible, Vanity Fair reported that Kubrick “sent a designer to New York to measure the exact width of the streets and the distance between newspaper vending machines.”

6. Some of the shots in Eyes Wide Shut required no set at all.

In order to give the movie a dream-like quality, the filmmakers used an old-school method of shooting—and a treadmill. “In some of the scenes, the backgrounds were rear-projection plates,” cinematographer Larry Smith explained. “Generally, when Tom’s facing the camera, the backgrounds are rear-projected; anything that shows him from a side view was done on the streets of London. We had the plates shot in New York by a second unit [that included cinematographers Patrick Turley, Malik Sayeed and Arthur Jafa]. Once the plates were sent to us, we had them force-developed and balanced to the necessary levels. We’d then go onto our street sets and shoot Tom walking on a treadmill. After setting the treadmill to a certain speed, we’d put some lighting effects on him to simulate the glow from the various storefronts that were passing by in the plates. We spent a few weeks on those shots.”

7. Eyes Wide Shut holds a Guinness World Record.

The film has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest constant movie shoot, with a total of 400 days, which was a surprise to the cast and crew. Cruise and Kidman had only committed to six months of filming. The extended shoot was a lot to ask of Cruise in particular, who was at the height of his career. He even had to delay work on Mission: Impossible II to finish Eyes Wide Shut. He didn’t seem to mind though. “We knew from the beginning the level of commitment needed,” Cruise told TIME. “We were going to do what it took to do this picture.”

8. The script for Eyes Wide Shut kept changing.

Todd Field as Nick Nightingale in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut
Warner Bros. via Getty Images Plus

According to Todd Field, who portrayed piano player Nick Nightingale (and is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker in his own right), “We’d rehearse and rehearse a scene, and it would change from hour to hour. We’d keep giving the script supervisor notes all the time, so by the end of the day the scene might be completely different. It wasn’t really improvisation, it was more like writing.”

9. Tom Cruise developed ulcers while shooting Eyes Wide Shut.

“I didn't want to tell Stanley," Cruise told TIME. “He panicked. I wanted this to work, but you're playing with dynamite when you act. Emotions kick up. You try not to kick things up, but you go through things you can't help.”

10. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman slept in their characters' bedroom.

In order to reflect their real-life relationship, Cruise and Kidman were asked to choose the color for the curtains in their on-screen bedroom, where they also slept.

11. The apartment featured in the movie was a re-creation of Stanley Kubrick's.

According to Cruise, “The apartment in the movie was the New York apartment [Stanley] and his wife Christianne lived in. He recreated it. The furniture in the house was furniture from their own home. Of course the paintings were Christianne's paintings. It was as personal a story as he's ever done.”

12. Stanley Kubrick temporarily banned Tom Cruise from the set.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise star in Stanley Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut' (1999).
Warner Bros. via Getty Images Plus

Given his penchant for accuracy, it’s quite possible that Kubrick wanted to stir up some real-life jealousy between his stars in order to help them embody their characters. In a fantasy sequence, Kidman’s character has sex with another man, which motivates the rest of the film’s plot. Kubrick banned Cruise from the set on the days that Kidman shot the scene with a male model. They spent six days filming the one-minute scene. Kubrick also forbid Kidman from telling Cruise any details about it.

13. It took 95 takes for Tom Cruise to walk through a doorway.

Six days for a one-minute scene is nothing compared to the time Kubrick had Cruise do 95 takes of one simple action: walking through a doorway. After watching the playback, he apparently told Cruise, “Hey, Tom, stick with me, I’ll make you a star.”

14. Security on the set was tight.

Aside from Kubrick, Kidman, Cruise, and their tiny crew, no one was allowed on the set, which was heavily guarded. In May 1997, one photographer managed to capture a picture of Cruise standing next to a man that the photographer thought was just an “old guy, scruffy with an anorak and a beard.” That man was Kubrick, who hadn’t been photographed in 17 years. After the incident, security on the set was tripled.

15. Paul Thomas Anderson spent some time on the set.

One person Cruise did manage to sneak onto the set was his future Magnolia director, Paul Thomas Anderson. While there, Anderson asked Kubrick, “Do you always work with so few people?” Kubrick responded, “Why? How many people do you need?” Anderson then recalled feeling “like such a Hollywood a**hole.”

16. Stanley Kubrick makes a cameo in the movie.


Warner Bros.

He’s not credited, but the film’s director can be seen sitting in a booth at the Sonata Café.

17. Stanley Kubrick died less than a week after showing the studio his final cut of Eyes Wide Shut.

Kubrick died less than a week after showing what would be his final cut of the film to Warner Bros. No one can say how much he would have kept editing the film. One thing that was changed after his death: bodies in the orgy scene were digitally altered so that the movie could be released with an R (rather than an NC-17) rating. Although many claim that Kubrick intended to do this, too. "I think Stanley would have been tinkering with it for the next 20 years," Kidman said. "He was still tinkering with movies he made decades ago. He was never finished. It was never perfect enough.”

18. By the time Eyes Wide Shut was released, a dozen years had passed since Stanley Kubrick's last directorial effort.

Eyes Wide Shut came out a full 12 years after Kubrick’s previous film, 1987's Full Metal Jacket.

19. Eyes Wide Shut topped the box office during its opening week.

The film earned $30,196,742 during its first week in release, which was enough to take the box office’s number one spot—making it Kubrick’s only film to do so.

20. Tom Cruise didn't like Dr. Harford.

One year after the film’s release, Cruise admitted that he “didn’t like playing Dr. Bill. I didn’t like him. It was unpleasant. But I would have absolutely kicked myself if I hadn’t done this.”

An earlier version of this article ran in 2015.

Top 50 Best-Selling Artists of All Time

Paul McCartney of The Beatles and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones sit opposite each other on a train at London's Euston Station.
Paul McCartney of The Beatles and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones sit opposite each other on a train at London's Euston Station.
Victor Blackman, Express/Getty Images

Who are America’s all-time favorite musicians and bands? When it comes to the best-selling artists of all time, The Beatles still rule—yes, even a half-century after their breakup. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), these are the 50 best-selling artists of all time.

  1. The Beatles

Albums sold: 183 million

  1. Garth Brooks

Albums sold: 148 million

  1. Elvis Presley

    Elvis Presley is seen playing the guitar in his 1966 film, 'Spinout'
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Albums sold: 146.5 million

  1. Eagles

Albums sold: 120 million

  1. Led Zeppelin

Albums sold: 111.5 million

  1. Billy Joel

Albums sold: 84.5 million

  1. Michael Jackson

Albums sold: 84 million

  1. Elton John

    Elton John plays a concert in 2008.
    LENNART PREISS/AFP/Getty Images

Albums sold: 78.5 million

  1. Pink Floyd

Albums sold: 75 million

  1. AC/DC

Albums sold: 72 million

  1. George Strait

Albums sold: 69 million

  1. Barbra Streisand

    Barbra Streisand
    Terry Fincher, Express/Getty Images

Albums sold: 68.5 million

  1. The Rolling Stones

Albums sold: 66.5 million

  1. Aerosmith

Albums sold: 66.5 million

  1. Bruce Springsteen

Albums sold: 66.5 million

  1. Madonna

Albums sold: 64.5 million

  1. Mariah Carey

    Mariah Carey performs during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada
    Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Albums sold: 64 million

  1. Metallica

Albums sold: 63 million

  1. Whitney Houston

Albums sold: 58.5 million

  1. Van Halen

Albums sold: 56.5 million

  1. Fleetwood Mac

Albums sold: 54.5 million

  1. U2

    The Edge and Bono of the rock band U2 perform at Bridgestone Arena on May 26, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee
    Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Albums sold: 52 million

  1. Celine Dion

Albums sold: 50 million

  1. Neil Diamond

Albums sold: 49.5 million

  1. Journey

Albums sold: 48 million

  1. Kenny G

    Kenny G performs onstage during the "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" Premiere Concert during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall
    Noam Galai, Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Albums sold: 48 million

  1. Shania Twain

Albums sold: 48 million

  1. Kenny Rogers

Albums sold: 47.5 million

  1. Alabama

Albums sold: 46.5 million

  1. Eminem

    Eminem performs onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on TBS, TNT, and truTV at The Forum on March 11, 2018 in Inglewood, California
    Kevin Winter, Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Albums sold: 46 million

  1. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Albums sold: 44.5 million

  1. Guns N’ Roses

Albums sold: 44.5 million

  1. Alan Jackson

Albums sold: 43.5 million

  1. Santana

Albums sold: 43.5 million

  1. Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift performs onstage at 2019 iHeartRadio Wango Tango presented by The JUVÉDERM® Collection of Dermal Fillers at Dignity Health Sports Park on June 01, 2019
    Rich Fury, Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Albums sold: 43 million

  1. Reba McEntire

Albums sold: 41 million

  1. Eric Clapton

Albums sold: 40 million

  1. Chicago

Albums sold: 38.5 million

  1. Simon & Garfunkel

    Pop duo Simon and Garfunkel, comprising (L-R) singer, Art Garfunkel and singer-songwriter, Paul Simon, performing on ITV's 'Ready, Steady, Go!', July 8, 1966
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Albums sold: 38.5 million

  1. Foreigner

Albums sold: 38 million

  1. Rod Stewart

Albums sold: 38 million

  1. Tim McGraw

Albums sold: 37.5 million

  1. Backstreet Boys

Albums sold: 37 million

  1. 2 Pac

Albums sold: 36.5 million

  1. Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan
    Evening Standard/Getty Images

Albums sold: 36 million

  1. Def Leppard

Albums sold: 35.5 million

  1. Queen

Albums sold: 35 million

  1. Dave Matthews Band

Albums sold: 34.5 million

  1. Britney Spears

    Britney Spears performs at the 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2016
    Christopher Polk, Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Albums sold: 34.5 million

  1. Bon Jovi

Albums sold: 34.5 million

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