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15 Colorful Facts About Varsity Blues

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For what it's worth, Varsity Blues beat Friday Night Lights by a good five years in bringing the pressure-filled world of Texas high school football to the big screen. And unlike the latter, Varsity Blues had then-teen heartthrob James Van Der Beek starring as Jon "Mox" Moxon, the second-string quarterback for the West Canaan High Coyotes who gets a bump in the depth chart after Paul Walker's character, Lance Harbor, seriously injures his knee.

Mox, caring more about getting into Brown University and his girlfriend Julie (Amy Smart), rubs both his father and the win-at-all-costs head coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) the wrong way. Here are some facts about the movie to read before you decide you don't want this life.

1. CHRIS KLEIN WAS UP FOR MOX.

Eight actors screen tested for the lead, including American Pie star Chris Klein. Director Brian Robbins asked Ron Lester, who played Billy Bob, who he thought should get the part. "I told him Van Der Beek," Lester said. "I remember that [Klein] was so much taller than me. It sucked. I’m like six foot and this guy’s towering me. I’m going, ’That’s not fair. No, no.'"

"I had to audition three times and screen test with six other people," Van Der Beek recalled of the film's casting process. "Despite Dawson's popularity, they didn't want me to play Mox, because they saw the work I did in television, and were convinced that there was no way I could play him."

2. JAMES VAN DER BEEK ONLY BEGAN ACTING AFTER GETTING HURT PLAYING FOOTBALL.

Van Der Beek suffered a concussion trying to catch a pass in eighth grade. While taking a year off from football per doctor's orders, he caught the acting bug and never looked back. Van Der Beek used his older brother's pigskin experiences as a guidepost for the part. "My brother played high school football for a team that won the state championship five years in a row," he explained to E!, "so I watched him go through all that insanity and I watched him deal with coaches like Kilmer. So it was one of the ways this film spoke to me."

3. RON LESTER WAS CAST BECAUSE OF HIS WORK ON GOOD BURGER.

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Ron Lester landed the role of Spatch in Good Burger (1997) off of his first-ever Hollywood audition. Director Brian Robbins liked what he saw from Lester, and had him in mind when Varsity Blues came along. As Robbins told Grantland in 2014, “There was no second choice.”

4. MOX WORE THE NUMBER FOUR BECAUSE OF BRETT FAVRE.

In 2010, Van Der Beek explained that the former Packers/Vikings/Jets QB was the reason he wore the number four in the movie. "What more can you ask of a hero than to never give up and go out like a true warrior?," the actor/Packers fan tweeted.

5. WENDELL BROWN WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO BE SIGNED BY THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS.

Eliel Swinton, who played Wendell Brown in the film, was a top high school football prospect before playing college ball at Stanford. He was a team captain his senior year and the starting strong safety. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent, but his career was short-lived. He ended up staying in California and working as a production assistant before getting cast as the running back in Varsity Blues.

6. THAT BIKINI WAS MADE OF SHAVING CREAM, NOT WHIPPED CREAM.

“We wanted to be on the set so bad," Lester admitted of the famous Darcy Sears (Ali Larter) whipped cream bikini scene. "Later on, we found out it was shaving cream being that whipped cream melts." It was Larter's feature film debut.

7. SCOTT CAAN AND PAUL WALKER WERE ROOMMATES DURING PRODUCTION.

“I had never really been on location for a long amount of time," Scott Caan said of the experience. "When you’re in your 20s and leaving all your friends and family, you have no idea what it’s going to be like. I was complaining to my friends like, ‘I’m not going to like any of these guys.’ A bunch of actors, you know?” Paul Walker was one of the first people Caan (who played Charlie Tweeter) met on set, and they immediately clicked; shortly thereafter, they decided to room together during the film's production. The two-bedroom apartment they shared outside of Austin was "like a frat house," according to Caan. The two remained friends until Walker's death in 2013.

8. IT WAS SHOT ENTIRELY IN TEXAS.

Varsity Blues was shot over eight weeks. The first two weeks were filmed in Coupland before they moved on to the neighboring Elgin, Texas, which doubled as the fictional West Canaan. The games were shot in 8500-seat high school stadiums in Elgin and Georgetown.

9. VAN DER BEEK DIDN'T THINK "I DON'T WANT YOUR LIFE" WOULD BE SO HUGE.

"No. No clue at all," the actor insisted when asked in 2011 if he thought the line from the trailer and the movie would still be in all of our heads today. "We just kind of did it with escalating levels of frustration. I think there’s probably a quiet version that was Take One. An understated version, and then I remember being told, 'Let him have it. This is it.' At one point, in order to get Thomas Duffy’s (Sam Moxon) reaction shot, I think I said, 'I don’t want your fu*king life'—trying to create some sort of element of surprise."

10. LESTER HURT HIMSELF DURING FILMING.

He tore a patellar tendon, making the hook-and-ladder play tough to shoot. “Getting him into that three-point stance was the hardest thing to do," football coordinator Mark Ellis remembered. "He could make the catch on the hook and ladder. He had good hands, was a good athlete; he just had all that weight.”

11. PARAMOUNT GOT CALLS THAT LESTER WAS STEALING THE MOVIE.

According to Lester, the studio got calls from Van Der Beek's representation that he was "stealing" the movie from their client.

12. BILLY BOB'S BIG CLIMATIC SCENE WAS AIDED BY FRANK SINATRA.

Frank Sinatra died the day they shot the scene where Billy Bob messes around with his 12-gauge pump shotgun on the back of his truck, using his trophies for target practice. “I remember that night shooting that scene, and you don’t do that once, you do it over and over again from different angles," Robbins recalled. "And he was just able to deliver that performance over and over again, and those were real tears and real emotion coming out of him.”

Lester said Ol' Blue Eyes helped. “I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan. Here I am, I’m already built up emotionally getting ready for this scene. Then I find out Frank Sinatra died just as I was about to go film. A lot of what you see in that shot, I give credit to the fact that we lost the Chairman.” Lester passed away in 2016 of liver and kidney failure.

13. PARAMOUNT WAS SUED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO OVER THE TITLE.

The University of Toronto had held the trademark on the phrase "Varsity Blues" for their collegiate teams since the 1980s, including for their football squad. As part of the settlement, Paramount agreed to put a disclaimer on the video and the book saying it wasn't based on the University of Toronto.

14. JOE PICHLER HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE 2006.

Joe Pichler portrayed Kyle Moxon, Mox's religion-obsessed younger brother. He left a note on his car in January 2006 which appeared to be a suicide note and hasn't been seen since.

15. THERE IS A TV SERIES IN THE WORKS.

On August 16, 2016, CMT announced that they were developing a television adaptation of the film. The pilot script will be written by the movie's screenwriter, W. Peter Iliff (Point Break, Patriot Games).

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11 Single Facts About Bridget Jones’s Diary
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While it's not officially a holiday movie, so much of the action in Bridget Jones's Diary happens around the most wonderful time of the year that the rom-com has become essential wintertime viewing for many movie fans. Based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name, it tells the story of a very single, and hopelessly romantic, working professional named Bridget (Renée Zellweger) who is determined to improve her love life. Enter two strapping gentlemen (Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) to vie for her heart. Get to know more about the timeless dramedy that’s been delighting audiences since 2001. Just as it is.

1. THE SOURCE NOVEL CAME ABOUT FROM AN ANONYMOUS COLUMN ABOUT SINGLE LIFE.

In the foreword of Bridget Jones’s Diary, author Helen Fielding wrote about how she came to conjure up the story: “The Independent asked me to write a column, as myself, about single life in London. Much as I needed the money, the idea of writing about myself in that way seemed hopelessly embarrassing and revealing. I offered to write an anonymous column instead, using an exaggerated, comic, fictional character. I assumed no one would read it, and it would be dropped after six weeks for being too silly.”

2. SEVERAL CHARACTERS ARE BASED ON PEOPLE IN HELEN FIELDING’S LIFE.


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These include Jude (Tracey MacLeod) and Shazzer (Sharon Maguire, also the film’s director). In a column for the Evening Standard, MacLeod described how she didn’t even realize she inspired part of her best friend’s story until Fielding’s book launch party. “At the launch party for the first Bridget book, I was cornered by a smug married friend, ‘So ... what's it like being Jude?’ she asked,” MacLeod writes. “I was outraged. Of course I wasn't Jude, with her self-help books and horrible boyfriend. My boyfriend wasn't anything like Vile Richard ... But as more people began to believe that Jude and Shazzer were thinly-veiled portraits of myself and Sharon, I secretly got to like the idea.”

3. TONI COLLETTE DECLINED THE LEAD, AND KATE WINSLET WAS CONSIDERED FOR IT.

Before Zellweger stole the show, Aussie Toni Collette and Brit Kate Winslet were up for the part. According to AMC, “Toni Collette declined the role because she was on Broadway starring in The Wild Party at the time, and Kate Winslet was considered but the producers decided she was too young.”

4. HUGH GRANT ONLY SIGNED ON WHEN RICHARD CURTIS WAS ANNOUNCED AS THE WRITER. 


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“The only reason [I was a hard sell] was because I didn't feel they had the script quite right for a long time,” Firth told Cinema.com. “And I kept saying, ‘It's not working. Just get Richard Curtis to come in and help rewrite it.’ Eventually they did, and as soon as Richard came on board, I signed on the dotted line. So that's all it was.”

5. RENÉE ZELLWEGER GAINED 17 POUNDS FOR THE PART.

Zellweger’s weight gain for the role had the media abuzz for a while. According to The Guardian, “In order to play the eponymous heroine in the film adaptation of Fielding's bestseller, the actress gained 17 pounds, consulting a dietitian and endocrinologist who devised a regime of three full meals a day, multiple snacks, and no exercise.”

6. ZELLWEGER WORKED AT PICADOR FOR THREE WEEKS.

Zellweger went full Method for her iconic role, and became a temporary employee of the Picador publishing house. “We came up with a plan: she would be Bridget Cavendish, Bridget for obvious reasons and Cavendish as she was to be passed off as the sister of Jonathan Cavendish, a friend of one of our company chairmen,” Picador publicist Camilla Elworthy told The Guardian. “That last bit at least is true, and no one was to know that Jonathan Cavendish was one of the film's producers.”

7. ZELLWEGER KEPT A PHOTO OF JIM CARREY ON HER DESK.


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While working at Picador, Zellweger kept a picture of Jim Carrey on her desk—which made her alter ego Bridget Cavendish seem like some sort of obsessed fan. “Under the name Bridget Cavendish, she answered phones, served coffee, and made photocopies—without being recognized by any of her co-workers, who offered career advice and wondered privately why she kept a photo of Jim Carrey (her then-boyfriend) on her desk,” noted Hollywood.com.

8. ZELLWEGER INVITED HER BOSS AT PICADOR TO BE AN EXTRA ON SET.

In Camilla Elworthy’s write-up for The Guardian, she noted how she became a part of the production. “Renée sent me a thank you letter and gift after she'd gone and I have seen her a few times since then," Elworthy wrote. "She invited me on to the film set one day. She informed me that I had to stick around and be an extra and made sure that I was put somewhere that I would be seen ... As a result, half my head can be seen for half a nano-second in the launch party scene.”

9. THE EPIC FIGHT SCENE BETWEEN GRANT AND COLIN FIRTH WASN’T CHOREOGRAPHED.

You can thank the two actors for the hilarity of the iconic scene. In a Vulture article about the greatest fight scenes in movie history, writer Denise Martin recalled the improvised spar, writing, “No stunt coordinators. No elaborate choreography. Just a perfectly realized wimp brawl between two upper-middle-class Englishmen coming to awkward fisticuffs in front of a Greek restaurant.”

10. FIELDING ASKED FRIEND SALMAN RUSHDIE TO CAMEO IN THE FILM.

Recalling how he came to be part of the film, famed novelist Salman Rushdie told Texas Monthly, “Helen Fielding, the author of the book, is an old pal of mine, and she asked if I’d come along and make a fool of myself, and I said, ‘Why not?’”

11. GRANT DIDN’T HEAR ZELLWEGER SPEAK IN HER AMERICAN ACCENT UNTIL THE FILM’S WRAP PARTY.

Zellweger was so engrossed with Bridget Jones that one of her leading love interests didn’t meet the real actress until the end of the shoot. “Not once did she stop speaking with that accent, until the wrap party,” Grant told Cinema.com, “when suddenly this weird ... Texan appeared. I wanted to call security, I didn't know who the f*ck she was!”

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15 Surprising Facts About Scarface
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Say hello to our little list. Here are a few facts to break out at your next screening of Scarface, Brian De Palma’s gangsters-and-cocaine classic, which arrived in theaters on this day in 1983.

1. IT WASN'T THE FIRST SCARFACE.

Brian De Palma's Scarface is a loose remake of the 1932 movie of the same name, which is also about the rise and fall of an American immigrant gangster. The producer of the 1983 version, Martin Bregman, saw the original on late night TV and thought the idea could be modernized—though it still pays respect to the original film. De Palma's flick is dedicated to the original film’s director, Howard Hawks, and screenwriter, Ben Hecht.

2. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A SIDNEY LUMET FILM.

At one point in the film's production, Sidney Lumet—the socially conscious director of such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men—was brought on as its director. "Sidney Lumet came up with the idea of what's happening today in Miami, and it inspired Bregman," Pacino told Empire Magazine. "He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well written. Oliver Stone was writing about stuff that was touching on things that were going on in the world, he was in touch with that energy and that rage and that underbelly."

3. OLIVER STONE WASN'T INTERESTED IN WRITING THE SCRIPT, UNTIL LUMET GOT INVOLVED.


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Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, but Stone—who was still reeling from the box office disappointment of his film, The Hand—wasn't interested. "I didn’t like the original movie that much," Stone told Creative Screenwriting. "It didn’t really hit me at all and I had no desire to make another Italian gangster picture because so many had been done so well, there would be no point to it. The origin of it, according to Marty Bregman, [was that] Al had seen the '30s version on television, he loved it and expressed to Marty as his long time mentor/partner that he’d like to do a role like that. So Marty presented it to me and I had no interest in doing a period piece."

But when Bregman contacted Stone again about the project later, his opinion changed. "Sidney Lumet had stepped into the deal," Stone said. "Sidney had a great idea to take the 1930s American prohibition gangster movie and make it into a modern immigrant gangster movie dealing with the same problems that we had then, that we’re prohibiting drugs instead of alcohol. There’s a prohibition against drugs that’s created the same criminal class as (prohibition of alcohol) created the Mafia. It was a remarkable idea."

4. UNFORTUNATELY, ACCORDING TO STONE, LUMET HATED HIS SCRIPT.

While the chance to work with Lumet was part of what lured Stone to the project, it was his script that ultimately led to the director's departure from the film. According to Stone: "Sidney Lumet hated my script. I don’t know if he’d say that in public himself, I sound like a petulant screenwriter saying that, I’d rather not say that word. Let me say that Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."

5. STONE HAD FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER.

In order to create the most accurate picture possible, Stone spent time in Florida and the Caribbean interviewing people on both sides of the law for research. "It got hairy," Stone admitted of the research process. "It gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster, cigar, sexy Miami movie."

Unfortunately, while penning the screenplay, Stone was also dealing with his own cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users. Stone actually tried to kick his habit by leaving the country to complete the script so he could be far away from his access to the drug.

"I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world too because that was another problem for me," he said. "I was doing coke at the time, and I really regretted it. I got into a habit of it and I was an addictive personality. I did it, not to an extreme or to a place where I was as destructive as some people, but certainly to where I was going stale mentally. I moved out of L.A. with my wife at the time and moved back to France to try and get into another world and see the world differently. And I wrote the script totally f***ing cold sober."

6. BRIAN DE PALMA DIDN'T WANT TO AUDITION MICHELLE PFEIFFER.


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De Palma was hesitant to audition the relatively untested Pfeiffer because at the time she was best known for the box office bomb Grease 2. Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis, Sharon Stone and Sigourney Weaver were all considered for the role of Elvira, but Bregman pushed for Pfeiffer to audition and she got the part.

7. YES, THERE IS A LOT OF SWEARING.

According to the Family Media Guide, which monitors profanity, sexual content, and violence in movies, Scarface features 207 uses of the “F” word, which works out to about 1.21 F-bombs per minute. In 2014, Martin Scorsese more than doubled that with a record-setting 506 F-bombs thrown in The Wolf of Wall Street.

8. TONY MONTANA WAS NAMED FOR A FOOTBALL STAR.

Stone, who was a San Francisco 49ers fan, named the character of Tony Montana after Joe Montana, his favorite football player.

9. TONY IS ONLY REFERRED TO AS "SCARFACE" ONCE, AND IT'S IN SPANISH.

Hector, the Colombian gangster who threatens Tony with the chainsaw, refers to Tony as “cara cicatriz,” meaning “scar face” in Spanish.

That chainsaw scene, by the way, was based on a real incident. To research the movie, Stone embedded himself with Miami law enforcement and based the infamous chainsaw sequence on a gangland story he heard from the Miami-Dade County police.

10. VERY LITTLE OF THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN MIAMI.

The film was originally going to be shot entirely on location in Miami, but protests by the local Cuban-American community forced the movie to leave Miami two weeks into production. Besides footage from those two weeks, the rest of the movie was shot in Los Angeles, New York, and Santa Barbara.

11. ALL THAT "COCAINE" LED TO PROBLEMS WITH PACINO'S NASAL PASSAGES.

Though there has long been a myth that Pacino snorted real cocaine on camera for Scarface, the "cocaine" used in the movie was supposedly powdered milk (even if De Palma has never officially stated what the crew used as a drug stand-in). But just because it wasn't real doesn't mean that it didn't create problems for Pacino's nasal passages. "For years after, I have had things up in there," Pacino said in 2015. "I don't know what happened to my nose, but it's changed."

12. PACINO'S NOSE WASN'T HIS ONLY BODY PART TO SUFFER DAMAGE.

Still of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in 'Scarface' (1983)
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In the film's very bloody conclusion, Montana famously asks the assailants who've invaded his home to "say hello to my little friend," which happens to be a very large gun. That gun took a beating from all the blanks it had to fire, so much so that Pacino ended up burning his hand on its barrel. "My hand stuck to that sucker," he said. Ultimately, the actor—and his bandaged hands—had to sit out some of the action in the last few weeks of production.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG DIRECTED A SINGLE SHOT.

De Palma and Spielberg had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid-1970s, and they made a habit of visiting each other’s sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians’ initial attack on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low-angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.

14. SOME COOL TECHNOLOGY WENT INTO THE GUN MUZZLE FLASHES.

In order to heighten the severity of the gunfire, De Palma and the special effects coordinators created a mechanism to synchronize the gunfire with the open shutter on the movie camera to show the huge muzzle flash coming from the guns in the final shootout.

15. SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS A FAN OF THE FILM.

The trust fund the former Iraqi dictator set up to launder money was called “Montana Management,” a nod to the company Tony uses to launder money in the movie.

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