13 Wild Facts About Wild Things

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Set and filmed in South Florida, Wild Things revolves around two teenagers, Suzie (Neve Campbell) and Kelly (Denise Richards), who accuse their high school guidance counselor, Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon), of rape. They hire a lawyer (Bill Murray) and a detective (Kevin Bacon) to investigate Lombardo. The events transform into an erotic film noir, as everyone betrays one another.

Richards described the film as “Scream meets Body Heat,” a cross between a whodunit and sleazy cinema. Written by Stephen Peters and directed by John McNaughton, the film is best known for its pool makeout session between Campbell and Richards; for a lurid threesome between Campbell, Richards, and Dillon; and for Bacon showing his, um, full bacon.

Twenty years ago, on March 20, 1998, the movie opened with a $9.6 million opening weekend and went on to gross a tepid $30,147,739. But the film proved popular enough to spawn three straight-to-DVD sequels (none of the original cast members, writer, or director were involved): Wild Things 2 (2004), Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough (2005), and Wild Things: Foursome (2010). Here are 13 wild facts about the movie.

1. KEVIN BACON THOUGHT THE SCRIPT WAS "THE TRASHIEST PIECE OF CRAP" HE HAD EVER READ.

Kevin Bacon not only has a role in the film but is also one of its producers. “When I first picked up the script, I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is the trashiest piece of crap I’ve ever read,’” he told Entertainment Weekly. “But every few pages, I kept discovering that it wasn’t what it seemed. Every few pages, there was another surprise.”

2. ROBERT DOWNEY JR. ALMOST PLAYED THE MATT DILLON ROLE.


Christopher Polk, Getty Images for PCA

Pre-Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. had been chosen to play the school counselor, but his drug issues endangered the production. “It was during his rehab, and he’d just been on Diane Sawyer’s show,” John McNaughton told Entertainment Weekly. “And to the people in Hollywood, that was a great career move. That made him hot.” The film’s insurance didn’t want to cover the actor, though, as Downey Jr. was too much of a liability.

3. DENISE RICHARDS DID NOT NAIL HER FIRST AUDITION.

McNaughton told Entertainment Weekly that at her first audition, Richards “was good, but not so good we had to hire her. But when she came back for a second audition, she was a lot better. She’d obviously thought about the character, which we took as a good sign that she could do the role. If worse came to worst, we knew she’d be beautiful.”

4. JOHN MCNAUGHTON PURPOSEFULLY CREATED BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS.

Wild Things ... is a movie about really ugly people in terms of their interiors—there’s almost nobody of any moral value whatsoever in that picture,” McNaughton told Filmmaker Magazine. "So to make their surroundings ugly is telling the joke twice; I wanted it to be beautiful and lush and gorgeous, like the movie was a commercial selling you that world.”

5. BILL MURRAY MISSED OUT ON “THE BIG FUN.”

Bill Murray’s character, lawyer Ken Bowden, doesn’t get to engage in threesomes—or any kind of sex. “Although I’m twisted, I’m about the nicest guy in the thing,” Murray said in a behind-the-scenes segment on the film. “So I don’t get to have the big fun, and no sex at all. It’s like the guy who comes the next morning, to the party—‘What happened? Really? I miss everything.’ But I’m in on it. I’m the only one that gets out unscathed.”

6. THE CAST HAD TROUBLE KEEPING THE LIES STRAIGHT.

“To determine their motivation in each scene, the cast had to gather with the director, writers, and producers to establish the sequence of events,” Bacon said. “We’d sit in rehearsals trying to piece together what was going on in the script, whom we were lying to about what, and it’d just get so complicated we’d have to stop and rest.”

7. BACON’S FULL-FRONTAL NUDITY WAS ACCIDENTAL.

Bacon didn’t think anyone would see his nether regions, mainly because he thought Dillon was blocking the shot. But McNaughton told The Huffington Post how Bacon’s manhood made an unintentional cameo: “Kevin steps out of the shower and Matt throws him a towel and he catches it and it covers him and he did it in every take but one. It was a little miscue and it didn’t cover him.” The film’s editor, Elena Maganini, convinced McNaughton to use that take. “We called Kevin and he said, ‘How do I look?’ We said, ‘You look good Kevin.’ He goes, ‘No problem.’”

“I didn’t think any more about it so I was shocked, really shocked, when everyone kept on about it after the movie’s release,” Bacon told Total Film. “It really wasn’t that big a deal.” In 2015, Bacon shot a funny “Free the Bacon” PSA, encouraging more male actors to do full-frontal movie scenes.

8. BACON AND DILLON WERE SUPPOSED TO DO A SHOWER SCENE TOGETHER.

That already racy scene in which Dillon throws a nude Bacon a towel almost pushed the envelope further. Dillon was supposed to join Bacon in the shower and kiss him, but Dillon was against the idea. “Man, I was relieved when they got rid of that scene,” Dillon told Total Film. “Kevin seemed pretty attached to it through. One twist too many, man, one twist too many."

“I thought it was great because the whole movie is about secrets coming out, right?” Bacon also told Total Film. “As reveals go, that one was just huge [no pun intended]. Unfortunately, the financiers didn’t like the idea of men making out. They felt it went too far. They felt it wasn’t right.”

9. A DEAD BODY FLOATED INTO THE PRODUCTION.

While Campbell and Daphne Rubin-Vega filmed a scene near a swamp, a dead body rose to the surface. “All of a sudden one of the crew says ‘cut’—it was one of the lighting guys—and they said there was a dead body in the water,” Campbell recalled. “And so the cops came by and were like ‘You makin’ a movie?’ And we were like ‘Yeah.’ So they actually—typical Hollywood—held the body next to the dock so it wouldn’t float through the shot so we could finish the scene.”

10. RICHARDS’S BOOBS BECAME THE FOCAL POINT OF MEETINGS.

According to Richards’s memoir, Real Girl Next Door, storyboards of her breasts were passed between her lawyer, the producers, and the director to see what she would be okay with revealing. “At first it was decided that only one [breast] would be filmed, though they eventually filmed both,” The Daily Beast wrote.

11. NEVE CAMPBELL ENJOYED KISSING RICHARDS.

“It was fun,” Campbell told Rolling Stone about the film's most famous scene. “We just sorta went in and did it. Actually, we mixed margaritas and brought a bottle of wine in my trailer and got drunk first.” Campbell wrote in her journal about the experience: “Okay, I’m gonna make out with a girl for the first time in my life. It’s so interesting that a lot of times you learn things about yourself and have new experiences when shooting a scene, because they’re things you wouldn’t normally do in your life.”

But Richards found it all very weird. “At one point during Wild Things, we were shooting at night and I just sat there and thought, ‘It’s four o’clock in the morning. I’m half naked in a swimming pool. I’m making out with Neve Campbell. What am I doing here?”’ she told Entertainment Weekly. Whereas Richards went topless for the scene, Campbell decided to not show anything.

12. BACON THINKS THE MOVIE SHOULDN’T BE TAKEN SO SERIOUSLY.

Is the movie self-aware or is it being serious? “It’s fun for me now to sit back and watch an audience which really doesn’t know what to expect,” Bacon said. “It’s kind of neat, because people are not quite sure what they’re supposed to be thinking and feeling. They kind of go, ‘Am I allowed to laugh at this at all? Or is this just like so bad? Are they serious?’ The other side of that is that it creates certain inherent problems in marketing the picture. I mean, I almost want to put a disclaimer on the poster that says, ‘We don’t take this too seriously, so we hope that you don’t either.'"

13. MCNAUGHTON WANTED TO MAKE A SEQUEL.

In 2013, McNaughton said he wanted to film a sequel called Wild Child Things, focusing on a child Suzie could’ve had. “Do you know the Amanda Knox case? It’s something like that,” he told Hollywood.com. “Something that’s like the child of Suzie Toller. She claimed that Matt Dillon’s [character] had raped her a long time ago and maybe there is a child and maybe Bill Murray’s character had a child and they’re exchange students and things get out of hand.” Though three straight-to-DVD sequels have been made, McNaughton has not been involved in any of those.

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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