Universal Studios
Universal Studios

15 Fun Facts About Knocked Up

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Ten years ago, Knocked Up solidified Seth Rogen as an unconventional Hollywood leading man and helped writer/director Judd Apatow become one of the most recognizable names in comedy. The film stars Rogen as Ben Stone, an immature but well-meaning schlub who accidentally impregnates accomplished entertainment journalist Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl). The movie grossed over $215 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, and it also spawned the spin-off This is 40 (2012), focusing on Alison's sister (Leslie Mann) and her husband (Paul Rudd). Here are 15 facts about Knocked Up, which premiered in theaters 10 years ago.

1. ANNE HATHAWAY WAS ORIGINALLY CAST AS ALISON.

Though the Knocked Up cast received plenty of praise from critics, it was originally going to look much different, as Anne Hathaway had initially agreed to play the lead role of Alison.

“Hathaway dropped out of the film because she didn’t want to allow us to use real footage of a woman giving birth to create the illusion that she is giving birth,” Judd Apatow wrote to The New York Times. According to Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann, he was also thinking of Alison Lohman for the role, but it "didn't work out."

Mila Kunis auditioned for the role, too. While Apatow passed on her for Alison, she did get a consolation prize: She landed the role of Rachel Jansen in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which Apatow produced and Jason Segel wrote.

2. SETH ROGEN AND HIS MOVIE ROOMMATES IMPROVISED FOR APATOW.

Rogen's character's roommates were Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Martin Starr, and Jonah Hill, who all went by their real first names. Apatow had them all come over to his house to record them improvising scenes to help them all find their fictionalized versions of themselves. During one of the rehearsal days, Apatow asked how the group could be more interesting, which is when Rogen's writing partner, Seth Goldberg, brought up the "Dirty Man Competition."

"We'd have a bet with a guy to see how long he could go without shaving or showering or cutting his hair," Goldberg told Apatow. Added Segel, "We thought we could chart the nine months based on Martin's beard length." An abandoned addition to the bit would have had Baruchel trying to maintain a Vanilla Ice-like hairstyle longer than Starr had his beard.

3. THE MORE MEMORABLE CONVERSATIONS WERE IMPROVISED.

At the first Knocked Up table read, Rogen told Baruchel about Munich, a movie he had just seen. The resulting conversation was a part of the first scene that was shot. Rogen was also responsible for Ben and Pete's fascination with the surplus of chairs in their Las Vegas hotel room, according to Paul Rudd.

"We were getting ready to shoot the scene and Seth was like, 'There are a lot of chairs!' because the set designer kind of brought in a lot of spare prop chairs," Rudd recalled. "And I was like, how do I show somebody's on mushrooms? Let's talk about chairs for a while!"

4. THE CONDITIONS WERE SURPRISINGLY BRUTAL.

During a week of shooting in Northridge, California, conditions were particularly brutal, with temperatures surpassing 115°F. Despite Baruchel reminding everyone to drink water, Segel didn't listen and ended up falling ill. After Segel and Rogen shot their fight scene, they both needed oxygen.

5. JAY BARUCHEL HAD A REAL FEAR OF ROLLER COASTERS.

The roller coaster sequence was used in the final cut's opening credits. It was shot on location at Knott's Berry Farm, but not every member of the cast was fond of the experience.

"There’s a very funny documentary about the roller coaster sequence because Jay Baruchel didn’t want to do it because he says he gets panic attacks on roller coasters," Apatow explained. "The documentary is about me manipulating him into doing it and you see me basically lying to him saying, 'It’s not that bad' and then him having a panic attack on the roller coaster. And then he won’t do it again and we have to keep doing it all day and then you see—because most people want to see this—most of our actors vomiting over and over."

6. JOEY BUTTAFUOCO SHOWED UP UNANNOUNCED ON SET.

Joey Buttafuoco, the Long Island auto body shop owner who became infamous thanks to his affair with Amy Fisher, was working a craft services truck on set one afternoon. His surprise cameo briefly lifted the spirits of the sweltering cast and crew in Northridge.

7. IT WAS KEN JEONG'S FILM DEBUT.

Ken Jeong had appeared on some TV shows like The Office and Entourage, but the doctor/stand-up comedian made his feature film debut in Knocked Up as Dr. Kuni. He shot it during a "vacation week." Jeong told NPR playing Dr. Kuni was his "first big break," and that Apatow was looking for an Asian actor with medical experience.

8. BILL HADER WORKED AS A VIDEO EDITOR FOR E! BEFORE HE PLAYED A VIDEO EDITOR FOR E! IN THE MOVIE.

For Bill Hader, the movie served as a trip back to his earlier days on the E! network.

"So I was down the hall (from) where I used to work, and that was weird seeing some of the guys I used to work with,” Hader remembered. “They were like, ‘Oh, you’re Mr. Hollywood now.’"

9. RYAN SEACREST GOT INTO THE MOVIE AFTER APATOW SAW HIM GET ANNOYED AT A TARDY CELEBRITY.

Apatow and his crew visited the E! News set for research. They found an annoyed Seacrest repeatedly trying to leave, annoyed that a guest was running late. Apatow found this so funny that he decided to put it into the movie, with the late celebrity being Jessica Simpson. Not used to reading a script, Apatow instructed, “Hey, can you use a bad word and make fun of a couple people and, at the end of this whole scene, really make sure you make fun of yourself?”

10. APATOW HAD TO CONVINCE LESLIE MANN TO HIRE THEIR DAUGHTERS.


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Leslie Mann was initially reluctant to let their daughters, Maude and Iris, appear in the movie. "Time passed by, and I was saying no, no. no, and then I’m like—I dunno, maybe," Mann said. "And then it was like a week before and he said, 'You have to tell me now.' He would ask me when I was really busy, so I couldn’t really focus on it and then it ended up just happening. But it’s okay…"

The two girls were later featured in a much larger role in the spin-off, This is 40.

11. APATOW HAD A CONNECTION TO CIRQUE DU SOLEIL HE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT.

Apatow had tried to incorporate Cirque du Soleil in his earlier movies, but it never survived the rewrites until Knocked Up. After having an easy shoot, the writer/director discovered that the head of PR at Cirque was Apatow's babysitter when he was a kid.

12. THEY USED THREE DIFFERENT PREGNANCY BELLY MOLDS FOR HEIGL.

A plaster cast was made of the front side of Heigl's torso and then sculpted into a three-month belly, a belly for six months, and finally one for nine months. They were filled with poly foam. Freckles and veins were also painted on to make it look real. Attaching and finishing the prosthetic took 45 minutes each day for the scenes when the belly was shown on screen.

It was easier to make the disgusting pool. The sides of the pool were painted green and it was filled with clean water, mixed with gallons of instant tea for density.

13. APATOW REALLY WANTED TO SHOW THE CROWNING SHOT.


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Apatow explained his rationale to Collider: "So the reason that I show the crowning shot is if I don’t show it I just look like an episode of Friends, and I am trying to make you feel the pain of that experience, because it is the most intense moment in people’s lives and I had to do something that hadn’t been done before."

His intent was to find a woman who would agree to let him film a real baby being born, but in California, "the unborn child would need a worker’s permit and I can’t get it 'til he’s born. There is a Kurt Vonnegut problem right there. So, we weren’t able to do it, so it became a prosthetic."

14. BRIDESMAIDS GOT ITS START FROM KRISTEN WIIG'S APPEARANCE IN THE MOVIE.

Kristen Wiig played Jill, one of Heigl's bosses at E!. It was there that she met Apatow, who later asked her to write a movie for her to star in that he would produce. When Wiig and Annie Mumolo pitched him Bridesmaids, Apatow thought it was great.

15. KATHERINE HEIGL THOUGHT THE MOVIE WAS "A LITTLE SEXIST."

In 2008, Heigl told Vanity Fair she thought the movie was "a little sexist," and felt it "paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys."

She later retracted her comments somewhat, saying she just didn't like how her character, Alison, came across. “I just didn’t like me," Heigl told Howard Stern. "She was kind of like, she was so judgmental and kind of uptight and controlling and all these things and I really went with it while we were doing it, and a lot of it, Judd allows everyone to be very free and improvise and whatever and afterwards, I was like, ‘Why is that where I went with this? What an a**hole she is!’ Judd and Seth were incredibly good to me on this movie, so I did not mean to sh*t on them at all."

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Warner Bros.
19 Shadowy Facts About Tim Burton's Batman
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Superhero movies are bigger than they’ve ever been before, but we arguably wouldn’t be here at all without 1989’s Batman. Produced at a time before comic book movies were considered big business, Tim Burton’s dark look at a superhero then best known for a goofy TV show is a pop culture landmark, and the story of how it was made is almost as interesting as the film itself. So, to celebrate Batman—which was released on this day in 1989—here are 19 facts about how it came to the screen.

1. AN EARLY MOVIE IDEA RELIED ON THE CAMPINESS OF THE CHARACTER.

As development of a Batman movie began, studio executives were still very tied to the campiness embodied by the Batman television series of the 1960s. According to executive producer Michael Uslan, when he first began attempting to get the rights to make a film, he was told that the only studio who’d expressed interest was CBS, and only if they could do a Batman In Outer Space film.

2. IT TOOK 10 YEARS TO MAKE.

Uslan lobbied hard for the rights to Batman, and finally landed them in 1979. At that point, the fight to convince a studio to make the film ensued, and everyone from Columbia Pictures to Universal Pictures turned it down. When Warner Bros. finally agreed to back the film, the issue of developing the right script had to be settled, and that took even more time. In 1989, after years of battling, Batman was finally released, and Uslan has been involved in some form in every Batman film since.

3. AN EARLY SCRIPT FEATURED BOTH THE PENGUIN AND ROBIN.

When Uslan finally got the chance to develop the film, he drafted legendary screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who had been a consultant on Superman, to write the script. The Mankiewicz script included The Joker, corrupt politician Rupert Thorne, a much greater focus on Bruce Wayne’s origin story, The Penguin, and the arrival of Robin late in the film. The script was ultimately scrapped, but you can see certain elements of it in Batman Returns.

4. TIM BURTON WASN’T THE FIRST POTENTIAL DIRECTOR.

Though Warner Bros. ultimately chose Tim Burton to helm Batman, over the course of the film’s development a number of other choices emerged. At various points on the road to Batman, everyone from Gremlins director Joe Dante to Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was in line for the gig.

5. MANY STARS OF THE TIME WERE CONSIDERED FOR BATMAN.

The casting process for Batman was a long one, and involved a number of major stars of the day. Among the contenders for the title role were Mel Gibson, Bill Murray (yes, really), Kevin Costner, Willem Dafoe, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, Charlie Sheen, Ray Liotta, and Pierce Brosnan, who later regretted turning down the role.

6. TIM BURTON HAD TO FIGHT TO CAST MICHAEL KEATON.

At the time, Michael Keaton was best known for his comedic roles in films like Mr. Mom and Night Shift, so the thought of casting him as a vigilante of the night seemed odd to many. Michael Uslan remembers thinking a prank was being played on him when he heard Keaton’s name pop up. Burton, who’d already worked with Keaton on Beetlejuice, was convinced that Keaton was right for the role, not just because he could portray the obsessive nature of the character, but because he also felt that Keaton was the kind of actor who would need to dress up as a bat in order to scare criminals, while a typical action star would just garner “unintentional laughs” in the suit. Burton ultimately won the argument, and Keaton got an iconic role for two films.

7. JACK NICHOLSON WAS THE FIRST CHOICE FOR THE JOKER, BUT HE WASN’T THE ONLY CHOICE.

From the beginning, Uslan concluded that Jack Nicholson was the perfect choice to play The Joker, and was “walking on air” when the production finally cast him. He certainly wasn’t the only actor considered, though. Among Burton’s considerations were Willem Dafoe, James Woods, Brad Dourif, David Bowie, and Robin Williams (who really wanted the part).

8. TIM BURTON WON JACK NICHOLSON OVER WITH HORSEBACK RIDING.

When Nicholson was asked to discuss playing The Joker, he invited Burton and producer Peter Guber to visit him in Aspen for some horseback riding. When Burton learned that was what they’d be doing, he told Guber “I don’t ride,” to which Guber replied “You do today!” So, a “terrified” Burton got on a horse and rode alongside Nicholson, and the star ultimately agreed to play the Clown Prince of Crime.

9. EDDIE MURPHY WAS ONCE CONSIDERED TO PLAY ROBIN.

Though the character of Robin was ultimately scrapped because it simply didn’t feel like there was room for him in the film, he did appear in early drafts of the script, and at one point producers considered casting Eddie Murphy—who, you must remember, was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1980s—for the role. 

10. SEAN YOUNG WAS THE ORIGINAL VICKI VALE.

Burton initially cast Blade Runner star Sean Young as acclaimed photographer Vicki Vale, who would become Bruce Wayne’s love interest. Young was part of the pre-production process on Batman for several weeks until, while practicing horseback riding for a scene that was ultimately cut, she fell from her horse and was seriously injured. With just a week to go until shooting, producers had to act fast to find a replacement, and decided on Kim Basinger, who essentially joined the production overnight.

11. TIM BURTON WASN’T OFFICIALLY HIRED UNTIL BEETLEJUICE BECAME A HIT.

Though he was basically already a part of the production, Burton wasn’t officially the director of Batman right away. Warner Bros. showed interest in him working on the film after the success of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, but according to Burton they only officially hired him after the first weekend grosses for Beetlejuice came in.

“They were just waiting to see how Beetlejuice did,” Burton said. “They didn’t want to give me that movie unless Beetlejuice was going to be okay. They wouldn’t say that, but that was really the way it was.”

12. DANNY ELFMAN THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO BE FIRED UNTIL HE PLAYED THE MAIN THEME.

Danny Elfman is now considered one of our great movie composers, but at the time Batman was released he didn’t have any blockbuster credits to his name. He recalls meeting with Burton (with whom he had worked on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) and producer Jon Peters to go over some of the music he’d already written for the film, and feeling “a lot of skepticism” over whether he should be the composer for Batman. It wasn’t until Burton said “Play the march,” and Elfman went into what would become the opening credits theme for the film, that he won Peters over.

“Jon jumped out of his chair, really just almost started dancing around the room,” Elfman said.

13. THE JOKER WASN’T ALWAYS GOING TO KILL BATMAN’S PARENTS.

In the final film, The Joker (then named Jack Napier) is revealed to be the gangster who guns down Bruce Wayne’s parents in the streets of Gotham City. It’s a twist that some comic book fans still dislike, and according to screenwriter Sam Hamm, it definitely wasn’t his fault.

“That was something that Tim had wanted from early on, and I had a bunch of arguments with him and wound up talking him out of it for as long as I was on the script. But, once the script went into production, there was a writer’s strike underway, and so I wasn’t able to be with the production as it was shooting over in London, and they brought in other people.”

Hamm also emphasizes that it was also not his idea to show Alfred letting Vicki Vale into the Batcave.

14. THE CLIMACTIC SCENE WAS WRITTEN MIDWAY THROUGH SHOOTING.

Though much of the film is still derived from Hamm’s script, rewrites continued to happen during shooting, and one of them involved the final confrontation between Batman and The Joker in a Gotham City clock tower. According to co-star Robert Wuhl, the climax was inspired by Jack Nicholson and Jon Peters, who went to see a production of The Phantom of the Opera midway through filming and watched as the Phantom made his final stand in a tower. Together, they somehow determined that a final fight in the tower was what Batman needed.

“The next day, they started writing that scene … the whole ending in the tower,” Wuhl said.

15. MICHAEL KEATON’S BATMAN MOVEMENTS WERE INSPIRED BY THE RESTRICTIONS OF THE COSTUME.

Batman fans still love to make jokes about the original costume, and Michael Keaton’s inability to turn his head (there’s even a dig at that in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight), but the restrictions of the costume actually inspired how Keaton performed as the Dark Knight. In 2014, Keaton revealed that his performance as Batman was heavily influenced by a moment when, while trying to actually turn his head in the suit, he ended up ripping it.

“It really came out of the first time I had to react to something, and this thing was stuck to my face and somebody says something to Batman and I go like this [turning his head] and the whole thing goes, [rriipp]! There was a big f***ing hole over here,” he said. “So I go, well, I've got to get around that, because we've got to shoot this son of a bitch, so I go, 'You know what, Tim [Burton]? He moves like this [like a statue]!’”

“I'm feeling really scared, and then it hit me—I thought, 'Oh, this is perfect! This is perfect.' I mean, this is, like, designed for this kind of really unusual dude, the Bruce Wayne guy, the guy who has this other personality that's really dark and really alone, and really kind of depressed. This is it.”

16. GOTHAM CITY WAS REAL, AND IT WAS EXPENSIVE.

Production designer Anton Furst put a lot of work into the incredibly influential designs for the film’s version of Gotham City, and the production was committed to making them pay off. The production ultimately spent more than $5 million to transform the backlot of London’s Pinewood Studios into Gotham City, and you can see the dedication to practical effects work in the final film.

17. PRINCE WAS PART OF THE PRODUCTION EVEN BEFORE HE JOINED IT.

Batman famously features original songs by Prince, who wrote so much new material for the production that he basically produced a full album. Even before the Purple One was drafted to write for the film, though, he was influencing it. Burton played Prince songs on set during the parade sequence and the Joker’s rampage through the museum.

18. THE FILM’S MARKETING WAS SO EFFECTIVE THAT IT INSPIRED CRIMES.

By the time Batman was actually on its way to release, it was becoming a phenomenon, and the marketing for the film was inspiring a frenzy among fans. People were buying tickets to other films just to see the first trailer, and selling bootleg copies of the early footage. The poster, featuring the iconic logo, was so popular that, according to Uslan, people were breaking into bus stations just to steal it.

19. IT WAS A BOX OFFICE LANDMARK.

Though studio executives resisted the idea of a “dark” Batman movie for years, the film ultimately set a new standard for box office success. It was the first film to ever hit $100 million in 10 days, the biggest film in Warner Bros.’ history at the time, and the box office’s biggest earner of 1989—and that’s not even counting the massive toy and merchandising sales it generated.

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Karl Walter, Getty Images
When the FBI Investigated the 'Murder' of Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor
Karl Walter, Getty Images
Karl Walter, Getty Images

The two people standing over the body, Michigan State Police detective Paul Wood told the Hard Copy cameras, “had a distinctive-type uniform on. As I recall: black pants, some type of leather jacket with a design on it, and one was wearing combat boots. The other was wearing what looked like patent leather shoes. So if it was a homicide, I was thinking it was possibly a gang-type homicide.”

Wood was describing a puzzling case local police, state police, and eventually the FBI had worked hard to solve for over a year. The mystery began in 1989, when farmer Robert Reed spotted a circular group of objects floating over his farm just outside of rural Burr Oak, Michigan; it turned out to be a cluster of weather balloons attached to a Super 8 camera.

When the camera landed on his property, the surprised farmer didn't develop the footage—he turned it over to the police. Some local farmers had recently gotten into trouble for letting wild marijuana grow on the edges of their properties, and Reed thought the balloons and camera were a possible surveillance technique. But no state or local jurisdictions used such rudimentary methods, so the state police in East Lansing decided to develop the film. What they saw shocked them.

A city street at night; a lifeless male body with a mysterious substance strewn across his face; two black-clad men standing over the body as the camera swirled away up into the sky, with a third individual seen at the edge of the frame running away, seemingly as fast as possible. Michigan police immediately began analyzing the footage for clues, and noticed the lights of Chicago’s elevated train system, which was over 100 miles away.

It was the first clue in what would become a year-long investigation into what they believed was either a cult killing or gang murder. When they solved the “crime” of what they believed was a real-life snuff film, they were more shocked than when the investigation began: The footage was from the music video for “Down In It,” the debut single from industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, and the supposed dead body was the group's very-much-alive lead singer, Trent Reznor.

 
 

In 1989, Nine Inch Nails was about to release their debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, which would go on to be certified triple platinum in the United States. The record would define the emerging industrial rock sound that Reznor and his rotating cast of bandmates would experiment with throughout the 1990s and even today on albums like The Downward Spiral and The Slip.

The band chose the song “Down In It”—a track with piercing vocals, pulsing electronic drums, sampled sound effects, and twisted nursery rhyme-inspired lyrics—as Pretty Hate Machine's first single. They began working with H-Gun, a Chicago-based multimedia team led by filmmakers Eric Zimmerman and Benjamin Stokes (who had created videos for such bands as Ministry and Revolting Cocks), and sketched out a rough idea for the music video.

Filmed on location among warehouses and parking garages in Chicago, the video was supposed to culminate in a shot with a leather-jacketed Reznor running to the top of a building, while two then-members of the band followed him wearing studded jumpsuits; the video would fade out with an epic floating zoom shot to imply that Reznor's cornstarch-for-blood-covered character had fallen off the building and died in the street. Because the cash-strapped upstarts didn’t have enough money for a fancy crane to achieve the shot for their video, they opted to tie weather balloons to the camera and let it float up from Reznor, who was lying in the street surrounded by his bandmates. They eventually hoped to play the footage backward to get the shot in the final video.

Instead, the Windy City lived up to its name and quickly whisked the balloons and camera away. With Reznor playing dead and his bandmates looking down at him, only one of the filmmakers noticed. He tried to chase down the runaway camera—which captured his pursuit—but it was lost, forcing them to finish shooting the rest of the video and release it without the planned shot from the missing footage in September of 1989.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the band, a drama involving their lost camera was unfolding in southwest Michigan. Police there eventually involved the Chicago police, whose detectives determined that the footage had been filmed in an alley in the city's Fulton River District. After Chicago authorities found no homicide reports matching the footage for the neighborhood and that particular time frame, they handed the video over to the FBI, whose pathologists reportedly said that, based on the substance on the individual, the body in the video was rotting.

 
 

The "substance" in question was actually the result of the low-quality film and the color of the cornstarch on the singer’s face, which had also been incorporated into the press photos for Pretty Hate Machine. It was a nod to the band's early live shows, in which Reznor would spew cornstarch and chocolate syrup on his band members and the audience. “It looks really great under the lights, grungey, a sort of anti-Bon Jovi and the whole glamour thing,” Reznor said in a 1991 interview.

With no other easy options, and in order to generate any leads that might help them identify the victim seen in the video, the authorities distributed flyers to Chicago schools asking if anyone knew any details behind the strange “killing.”

The tactic worked. A local art student was watching MTV in 1991 and saw the distinctive video for “Down In It,” which reminded him of one of the flyers he had seen at school. He contacted the Chicago police to tip them off to who their supposed "murder victim" really was. Nine Inch Nails’s manager was notified, and he told Reznor and the filmmakers what had really happened to their lost footage.

“It’s interesting that our top federal agency, the Federal Bureau of [Investigation], couldn’t crack the Super 8 code,” co-director Zimmerman said in an interview. As for Wood and any embarrassment law enforcement had after the investigation: “I thought it was our duty, one way or the other, to determine what was on that film,” he said.

“My initial reaction was that it was really funny that something could be that blown out of proportion with this many people worked up about it,” Reznor said, and later told an interviewer, “There was talk that I would have to appear and talk to prove that I was alive.” Even though—in the eyes of state, local, and federal authorities—he was reportedly dead for over a year, Reznor didn’t seem to be bothered by it: “Somebody at the FBI had been watching too much Hitchcock or David Lynch or something,” he reasoned.

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