CLOSE
YouTube
YouTube

15 Royal Facts About The Fisher King

YouTube
YouTube

The Fisher King (1991), Terry Gilliam's first attempt at directing a movie he had no part in writing, starred Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges in two of their most underrated performances. Williams portrays Parry, a former professor turned delusional homeless man following the murder of his wife. He is helped by Bridges's shock jock character Jack Lucas, who inadvertently provoked a listener to kill Parry's wife. In honor of the Oscar-winning film's 25th anniversary, here are 15 royal facts about The Fisher King.

1. RICHARD LAGRAVENESE HAD TO START HIS SCRIPT OVER AGAIN AFTER RAIN MAN CAME OUT.

The first-time screenwriter kept the Jack and Parry characters but threw the rest of his initial draft out because it was too similar to Rain Man. In his next attempt, LaGravenese came up with a "sitcom-y" idea, where Jack has to find Lydia (Amanda Plummer) a husband in order to get his fortune.

2. JACK WASN'T A SHOCK JOCK UNTIL THE FINAL DRAFT OF THE SCRIPT.

Jack Lucas started off as a "cynical cab driver" before he became an heir to a fortune. Then LaGravenese listened to Howard Stern and figured out Bridges's character. Bridges even trained to be a DJ for research, and appeared on the air a few times as Jack Lucas.

3. THE MOVIE WAS PROMISED TO JAMES CAMERON, AND BILLY CRYSTAL WAS CONSIDERED FOR THE JACK LUCAS PART.

YouTube

Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg gave the script to Steven Spielberg and James L. Brooks, and at one point the project was "promised" to James Cameron with Billy Crystal eyed to play Jack. When the project was moved to Tri-Star, the producers continued an uphill battle to fight for Gilliam to get involved. The same movie executive who worked with Gilliam on the over-budget The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) told producer Lynda Obst that Gilliam would get the job "over my dead body."

4. DISNEY THOUGHT IT WAS TOO DARK.

Disney thought the film was too dark, and shelved it for that reason. Before they did, though, the powers-that-be made LaGravenese tone down a lot of the elements they considered to be too "dark," "odd," or "weird." Disney wanted Jack to be less mean, more like David Letterman than Howard Stern, but Gilliam told LaGravenese to change the script back. Gilliam referred to the Disney version as the "Frank Capra version."

5. MERCEDES RUEHL THOUGHT SHE BORED GILLIAM TO DEATH IN HER AUDITION.

Mercedes Ruehl (Anne Napolitano) wrote her college thesis on T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" and the legend of the Fisher King. "I talked to Terry about 'The Waste Land,' redemption, the Fisher King, vegetation rights, blah, blah, and he just watched me as a glaze fell over his eyes," Ruehl said about her hour-long initial interview. "I think he offered me the role because he needed to shut me up, something had to cork this unasked-for scholarship on Fisher King." Ruehl won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.

6. GILLIAM DIDN'T WANT TO MESS WITH THE SCRIPT.

The writer-director of Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985) had said he would never direct a movie that wasn't his own; he broke that rule for the first time with The Fisher King. The one scene he added was the Grand Central Station waltz. "A scene takes place at Grand Central Station, so I was there watching the rush hour develop, watching the swarm begin," Gilliam remembered. "It started slowly, then the tempo increased and I thought, 'My god, wouldn't it be wonderful if all these thousands of people suddenly just paired up and began to waltz?'" Gilliam and his team were granted exclusive access to Grand Central for two nights, from 11:00 p.m. until 6:10 a.m., when the first commuter trains arrived.

7. GILLIAM HAD TO BRING IN GARBAGE.

Production loved a location off of FDR Drive, which was ideal for a scene where Jack was going to try to drown himself in the river. They asked the city to keep the garbage there, but instead it was swept clean. At the production designer's estimation, a load of trash and cars and refrigerators had to be shipped in at a "major expense."

8. THEY HAD TO SWITCH MADISON AVENUE AND FIFTH AVENUE.

The Langdon Carmichael townhouse, on Fifth Avenue in the movie, was portrayed by the Armory on 94th Street and Madison Avenue. Stained glass windows and gargoyles were added to it, as well as an entryway and double staircase made in California and shipped 3000 miles to New York. Production flipped the vehicle direction on Madison, because traffic on Fifth flows the other way.

9. BOTH CITY RESIDENTS AND THE STUDIO DELAYED IT.

A bike-riding sick man named Mercury rode around production shouting for Robin Williams, holding up production on the day they were trying to shoot the Central Park nude scene for hours. When other New Yorkers got annoyed at the lights and noise from the night shoots, they reported fake fires to the fire department, which also caused delays. In March, just when the cast and crew assumed their troubles were over, Tri-Star decided to postpone the scheduled May 10, 1991 opening date to September.

10. GILLIAM WAS LOOKING FOR FAIRY TALE IMAGERY.

"In my mind I was making a fairy tale of people like Lydia imprisoned in this great stone tower working in this publishing house, and bums living under the arches of Manhattan bridge in a setting that's Dante-esque," the director said. He added that since, in the myth, the Fisher King was dying, he saw New York "as all stone and brutal buildings, with no living things like trees and birds. I put Jack Lucas, who's actually the Fisher King, up in the most minimalistic, severe, cold building I could find."

11. THE RED KNIGHT WAS MADE WITH FOAM LATEX.

Stunt coordinator Chris Howell had a fire-shooting, 16 pound flame-thrower attached to his helmet. Trained Percheron gelding circus horses named "Lightning" and "Goliath" were featured in the Knight scenes.

12. GILLIAM HAD TO STOP WILLIAMS FROM OVERDOING IT.

YouTube

Williams always wanted to do one more take, even though he had given it his all and Gilliam thought they had more than enough. One scene in particular stood out to Gilliam:

"The last shot we had to do was Robin running at the end of this scene, in this hysterical state. You can even see the light ever so slightly beginning to come on the river in the background. But Robin was so angry because it was such a crucial moment, and he felt he’d been cheated of his ability to really give this moment his all. And Robin was an incredibly strong guy: When he’d worked himself into this state of madness for the part, nobody could approach him. The first assistant, the stunt guy … nobody wanted to get near him. They were terrified. So, I had to go up there and tell him, ‘Robin, what we have here is very good. And if we look at the rushes and it isn’t, I promise you I will reshoot it.’ And I had to hug him basically, and hold him. I could feel these muscles that were so tense and so strong, they felt like they could easily rip my head off."

13. WILLIAMS HAD TO GET THE COMEDY OUT OF HIS SYSTEM.

After finishing early one night, Williams went uptown to do a set to—in his words—get the comedy "out of my system." Gilliam, Bridges, his brother Beau, and a shocked audience watched Williams do 45 minutes of improvised stand-up.

14. STEPHEN SONDHEIM GAVE PERMISSION TO REWRITE HIS LYRICS.

Production failed at getting permission, but Michael Jeter ("Homeless Cabaret Singer") was good friends with the famous composer and managed to get it. According to Gilliam, Jeter came through again later when he sang "Everything's Coming Up Roses" on pitch for every take, so they were able to cut all of his takes together.

15. ROBIN WILLIAMS HAD TOO MUCH HAIR.

This was according to Tri-Star, who, Gilliam reported in all seriousness, was worried that Williams would lose fans because his naked body had too much hair on it.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Netflix/Facebook
arrow
entertainment
8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
Netflix/Facebook
Netflix/Facebook

[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Lists
20 Random Facts About Shopping
iStock
iStock

Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios