11 Fascinating Facts About Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

At the moment, everyone has Twin Peaks on the brain, thanks the recent premiere of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 18-episode revival of the cult classic mystery series on Showtime. Naturally, Twin Peaks fans everywhere have already binge-watched the original series in anticipation, but there’s one other big piece of the Twin Peaks puzzle that shouldn’t be left out: Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prequel film directed by Lynch.

Lambasted by critics upon its release for its bleak and disorienting plot, Fire Walk With Me was for many years ignored by all but diehard fans. But critical reexaminations, deleted scenes, and a promise from Lynch himself that it’s ”very important” to the future of Twin Peaks have pushed it back into the public imagination. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, cut a slice of cherry pie, and check out these facts about the film.

1. IT HAPPENED FAST.

By the spring of 1991, Twin Peaks—which had once been a ratings juggernaut for ABC—was flagging. The resolution of the Laura Palmer mystery left the show without its most popular storyline, and various time slot shifts led to further viewership drops. The show was canceled, but co-creator Lynch did not wait long to continue the franchise. Fire Walk With Me was announced only about a month after the show ended in June 1991. Financing from French company Ciby 2000 came quickly, and by May of the following year, the film was celebrating its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

2. ONE TWIN PEAKS STAR WAS REPLACED, WHILE ANOTHER WAS LEFT OUT ENTIRELY.

Though Fire Walk With Me is primarily the story of Laura Palmer’s last week alive, Lynch had big plans for the film, and intended to bring back numerous Twin Peaks actors to reprise their roles from the show. Among the biggest names Lynch asked to return were Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna Hayward) and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne). Both actresses declined due to scheduling conflicts with other projects. Because Donna was Laura’s best friend, and therefore integral to the story, the role was recast with future The West Wing star Moira Kelly. Audrey Horne was ultimately left out of the film altogether, though Fenn recalled later that something really could have been worked out.

“I was just doing Of Mice And Men. David was mad at me. I was going to do it. I was set to do it! I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ And then they were going to have me do it in between that and whatever I was going to do next, but he wanted my hair to be cut, and there was this stupid thing where… [dismissively] Really, if they’d really wanted me, they could’ve figured it out. Not that they didn’t really want me to do it, but productions like to have you and just you, you know what I mean? The dates were completely conflicting, because I was supposed to be in Santa Ynez filming Of Mice And Men for eight weeks, so … that’s what happened."

3. KYLE MACLACHLAN WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A LARGER ROLE.

It wouldn’t feel like Twin Peaks without Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper. Cooper was the heart of the TV series, so it made sense that he would return for the film, but in July of 1991, the film was put on hold when it was announced that MacLachlan, on the hunt for new acting challenges, would not return to the role. By August of that year, MacLachlan was back on board, but Lynch and co-writer Robert Engels had to rewrite the script to reduce his role. In a 2000 Observer interview, MacLachlan explained the changes:

“Without getting too specific about it, David and Mark [Frost] were only around for the first series [of Twin Peaks],” he said. “I fought and fought to try and get them back, but … I think we all felt a little abandoned. So I was fairly resentful when the film, Fire Walk With Me, came round. I wanted to have a meaningful discussion about some of [the early] scenes, and David was unwilling to do that, so I was not in those scenes; Chris Isaak was in them, instead of me.”

Clearly there are no bad feelings, as MacLachlan has returned to the role of Dale Cooper in a big way for the revival.

4. LYNCH HELPED COMPOSE THE MUSIC, AND EVEN PLAYED ON THE SOUNDTRACK.

Lynch reunited with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti for Fire Walk With Me, and got more involved than usual in the composition. He composed lyrics to several songs for the soundtrack (including “Questions in a World of Blue,” which featured the return of Twin Peaks Roadhouse singer Julee Cruise), and music for others. One track, “A Real Indication,” features Lynch on percussion and Badalamenti himself on vocals.

5. THE FIRST CUT WAS FIVE HOURS LONG.

The journey from announcing to premiering Fire Walk With Me took less than a year, and the production process itself was equally fast. In a little more than three months, Lynch managed to shoot half a million feet of film, an amazing amount for a final picture that runs just over two hours. Why so long? Well that’s in part due to the very large number of characters (including lots of Twin Peaks regulars) in the script. The first cut of the film came in at around five hours, which meant considerable trimming before the premiere.

6. THE RING AT THE CENTER OF THE PLOT HAS A WEIRD HISTORY.


New Line Cinema

Fire Walk With Me features an intriguing new addition to Twin Peaks lore: a ring that seems to have magical properties, which passes from the murdered Teresa Banks to Laura Palmer through weird Lynchian dream logic. Its exact powers and origins are still unknown, but it’s been around for a very long time. In the 2016 book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Peaks co-creator Mark Frost, it’s revealed that the ring has been owned by, among others, Meriwether Lewis and Richard Nixon. In one of the film’s infamous deleted scenes, it’s revealed that Agent Cooper’s girlfriend Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) was wearing the ring after escaping the Black Lodge at the end of season two of Twin Peaks, but it was later stolen from her finger by a hospital nurse.

7. THE CLIMACTIC SCENE HAS A CREEPY COINCIDENTAL CONNECTION TO A REAL MURDER.

Most of Fire Walk With Me was shot on location in Washington State, but because the film went over its allotted location shooting days, filming had to be completed in Los Angeles. The murder of Laura Palmer in a train car, originally set to be filmed in the Seattle area, was filmed on a soundstage on the last day of shooting, which also happened to be Halloween 1991. According to Frank Silva, who played the demonic Killer Bob, a real murder happened that same night near the location where the crew was originally supposed to film the scene.

"Five days after Halloween, in Seattle, they found the body of a girl off of Avenue 37 up toward the river, and the weird thing about it was that her name was Theresa Briggs," Silva told Fangoria. "Theresa Banks is the first girl who gets killed, and Bobby Briggs was one of the characters in the show. And when they did an autopsy, they discovered the murder had taken place five days earlier on Halloween night, the same night we were shooting the killing of Laura Palmer on the set in LA. It was really weird stuff. Art imitates life. Life imitates art."

8. LYNCH ORIGINALLY PLANNED TO MAKE MORE FILMS.

Though it functions largely as a Twin Peaks prequel, Fire Walk With Me also has elements of a sequel to the TV series, most notably when Annie appears in Laura’s dream (from the future, somehow transmitting into the past) to say “The good Dale is in the lodge and can’t leave. Write it in your diary.” If Laura wrote this information down, it means that someone in the future would have come across it in her diary (shredded to pieces but recovered by the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department) and known that the Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks had been replaced by a doppelgänger, as revealed to the audience in the season two finale of the series. Lynch believed that Laura did, in fact, write Annie’s message in her diary.

“I had hopes of something coming out of that,” he said,” and I liked the idea of the story going back and forth in time.”

Lynch apparently planned a trilogy of Twin Peaks films, but the idea was abandoned after the poor reception to Fire Walk With Me.

9. IT WAS LITERALLY BOOED BY CRITICS.


New Line Cinema

Most filmmakers only read the prior critical reception to their films, but Lynch actually got to hear it directly from critics. After the film premiered at Cannes in May of 1992, Lynch attended a press conference, where he was met with boos and hisses. Fire Walk With Me was critically panned at the time for being bleak, confusing, and deliberately devoid of much of the offbeat humor that made Twin Peaks what it was. Lynch, used to a mixed reception, took it in stride, but the press conference was still brutal.

“It was like I was made of broken glass, you know, when I went in there,” he later said. “And it really was not fun.”

The film has enjoyed a reappraisal in recent years, though, with critics such as Calum Marsh of The Village Voice naming it “Lynch’s masterpiece."

10. IT WAS BIG IN JAPAN.

Despite an icy critical reception and relatively poor box office performance in the United States, Fire Walk With Me was embraced in at least one part of the world: Japan. The Twin Peaks TV series didn’t arrive there until the show had nearly finished its American run, and it caught on like wildfire, with fans even staging mock Laura Palmer funerals in several cities. Fire Walk With Me premiered there in May of 1992, well before it got an American release, and ran in Japanese theaters all through the summer.

11. THE DELETED SCENES WERE KEPT HIDDEN FOR YEARS.

Because Lynch shot enough footage for a five-hour version of Fire Walk With Me, significant cuts were made to get the film down to a releasable length. This left many deleted scenes on the cutting room floor that gained interest from Peaks fans in the years after the film’s release. Even as the film made its way to various DVD releases, the deleted scenes were never made available due to rights issues with the original French investors who financed the film. Demand for these scenes ultimately grew so huge that a Facebook fan petition was started in 2011, and then, in 2014, the rights issues were finally resolved. The Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery box set included the original series, Fire Walk With Me, and more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes featuring extended moments from the film and numerous Twin Peaks favorites who didn’t make the final cut. Among the familiar faces: Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), Pete Martell (Jack Nance), and Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean).

Additional Sources:
Lynch on Lynch, by Chris Rodley
The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Mark Frost
The Complete Lynch, by David Hughes

18 Facts About The Wizard of Oz for Its 80th Anniversary

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

It was the quintessential Golden Age of Hollywood film: Lovable characters (yes, even the bad guys), catchy song-and-dance numbers, and a story that still makes audiences cry 80 years after its initial release. The Wizard of Oz is an often-imitated but never-duplicated cinematic treasure (in this age of the multiple remake, that’s saying something) that remains an integral part of childhood decades after it first enchanted audiences in theaters.

Based on L. Frank Baum's wildly popular 1900 children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the iconic MGM film from 1939 is still a gift that keeps on giving with its innumerable catchphrases (“There’s no place like home,” “It’s a twistah! It’s a twistah!” “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!”), and timeless songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.”

Many movies have tried to top that magical, life-changing moment when farm girl Dorothy Gale (a 16-year-old Judy Garland) opens the door to Munchkinland and trades her drab, sepia-toned Kansas life for one of boundless Oz Technicolor—and none has yet succeeded. But as with any other classic movie, The Wizard of Oz has its share of triumphs, tragedies, and trivia. Read on for some of some insights into this venerated Hollywood masterpiece.

1. You can thank the power of Technicolor for Dorothy's ruby slippers.

More so than the braids, the toy Toto, or even the blue-and-white gingham dress, those sparkly ruby-red shoes are the key to any Dorothy Gale costume. But one of the most important images of the enduring Wizard of Oz mythos did not come from the mind of author L. Frank Baum, but instead from Oz screenwriter Noel Langley. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book series, Dorothy’s shoes were made of silver. However, Langley recommended the slippers be changed to ruby for the film due to the fact that the bright red hue would show up much better against the Technicolor yellow brick road.

The silver shoes did make a comeback nearly 40 years later, when The Wiz was adapted for the big screen and Diana Ross’s Dorothy kicked it old-school for her Oz footwear.

2. Getting Dorothy home to Kansas was an easier feat than maintaining a director for The Wizard of Oz.

Victor Fleming may be the one officially credited onscreen, but The Wizard of Oz can boast four directors. The first, Richard Thorpe, was fired after less than two weeks. George Cukor was brought in next, but he was summoned away to go work on—of all projects!—Gone With the Wind. Then Fleming stepped in, until he too was called over to assist with Gone With the Wind, and King Vidor was hired to complete the movie.

3. Ray Bolger, forever immortalized as the Scarecrow, was initially cast as the Tin Man.


And he wasn’t too happy about it. Ray Bolger felt his signature, loose-limbed dancing style would be stifled as the rusted-stiff Tin Man (“I’m not a tin performer. I’m fluid,” said Bolger of the part). So he managed to convince the actor cast as the Scarecrow, Buddy Ebsen, to switch roles. Considering Ebsen was so easygoing about the change, it seemed like this was all meant to be. Or not ...

4. Buddy Ebsen, the original Tin Man, had to be replaced after suffering a severe allergic reaction to the aluminum powder makeup.

Nine days into production on The Wizard of Oz, Ebsen found himself in the hospital, unable to breathe from the aluminum-powder makeup he wore as the Tin Man (cue the “Nice going, Bolger,” here). "My lungs were coated with that aluminum dust they had been powdering on my face," Ebsen explained in the book The Making of The Wizard of Oz. The actor, who would go on to star in The Beverly Hillbillies TV show in the 1960s, was subsequently replaced by Jack Haley (whose Tin Man makeup was tweaked from a powder to a paste).

5. Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, suffered burns from her makeup.

Ebsen wasn’t the only one who had a near-fatal experience with his Oz cosmetics. Actress Margaret Hamilton, who played the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, suffered a second-degree burn on her face and a third-degree burn on her hand while filming her character’s dramatic, fiery exit from Munchkinland. Hamilton learned after the fact that her makeup was copper-based (read: toxic), and that if it hadn’t been removed immediately, she may not have lived to tell the tale.

6. Judy Garland's original Dorothy look was much more Hollywood glamour girl.

Judy Garland’s Dorothy will always be remembered for her simple farm-girl look (and the subtle Emerald City makeover later in the movie), but when production first began on The Wizard of Oz, Garland was given the traditional Hollywood treatment. That meant a bouncy, blonde wig and tons of makeup. Fortunately, for the film’s legacy, Glam Dorothy didn’t last long. It was interim director George Cukor who did away with the wig and cosmetics, turning Dorothy back into what she was all along: A girl from the Kansas prairie.

7. Frank Morgan played not one, not two, but five characters in The Wizard of Oz.

Most of the main actors in The Wizard of Oz played two roles: A Kansas character and his or her Oz counterpart. This meant Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Tin Man), and Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion) doubled as farmhands, and Margaret Hamilton got wicked in both Kansas (Miss Gulch) and Oz (the Witch). But Frank Morgan, who portrayed the shady Professor Marvel in the Kansas scenes (and was only billed for that role in the credits), not only showed up in Oz as the Wizard, but also as the uppity Doorman to the Emerald City, the Horse-of-a-Different-Color-owning Cabbie, and the snippy (later, sobbing) Wizard’s Guard.

8. Margaret Hamilton appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to talk about her most famous role.

In 1975, former kindergarten teacher Margaret Hamilton was a guest on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. On this episode, Hamilton spoke with Fred Rogers at length about her celebrated—albeit frightening—role, as a way to help children watching at home understand that her playing the Wicked Witch, in the words of a familiar Neighborhood term, was all “make-believe.”

Hamilton discussed how kids could better sympathize with the Witch’s perspective by explaining her misunderstood nature: “She’s what we refer to as ‘frustrated.’ She’s very unhappy because she never gets what she wants.” (A prescient Hamilton was also hitting on the concept for the novel—and subsequent musical—Wicked here, 20 years before its publication.) The actress then ended her visit with Mr. Rogers in the coolest way possible: Dressing up in a Wicked Witch of the West costume (sans green makeup) and briefly slipping into her mischievous cackle.

9. The classic 1939 MGM film was not the first cinematic adaptation of L. Frank Baum's novel.

Back in 1910, a 13-minute silent film called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was produced. By today’s standards, it’s delightfully creepy, but 105 years ago, it was probably a revelation for audiences. The movie also took a lot of liberties with Baum’s original story, which can be discombobulating for modern viewers. In this version, Dorothy and the Scarecrow are already pals by the time they’re both swept up in the (very primitive-looking) cyclone for their journey to Oz. The movie also ends with Dorothy ditching Kansas and opting instead to stick around this far more exciting magical land. “There’s no place like–Oz?”

Another silent film, also called The Wizard of Oz, was released in 1925 and featured a young Oliver Hardy in the role of the Tin Woodsman. It, too, deviated significantly from the book.

10. At one point, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion were doing a 1939 dance craze: the Jitterbug.

But you never got to see it, because the entire sequence was cut from Oz for time (plus there’s the theory that producers felt inserting an up-to-the-minute dance craze would date the film). Right before the Wicked Witch’s Flying Monkeys descend upon Dorothy and her friends in the Haunted Forest, the group was supposed to be attacked by an insect (“The Jitterbug”) that would make them dance uncontrollably. In fact, at the start of the clip above, you can still hear the Witch comment to one of her monkeys, “I’ve sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them” (continuity be damned).

Full audio of the “Jitterbug” song still exists, as well as some very raw footage. The “Jitterbug” song-and-dance number has also been reinstated in some stage versions of The Wizard of Oz (including a 1995 high school production that featured the writer of this piece).

11. Toto the dog made more than the Munchkin actors.

Margaret Pellegrini, who portrayed one of the Munchkins in the film, said that she was paid $50 a week to work on Oz. In 1939, that was a decent wage for a working actor. Trouble was, Dorothy’s canine companion was pulling in a whopping $125 a week. That had to make things awkward on set.

12. An Iowa newspaper article spun The Wizard of Oz as a cure for "war nerves."

One day after Germany invaded Poland (thus beginning the Second World War), Iowa’s Mason City Globe Gazette ran an article heralding The Wizard of Oz’s run at the local movie house. As a way to both increase morale and ticket sales, Oz was billed as the perfect escapist fantasy for those worried about the events overseas. The actual headline read: “War Nerves? See The Wizard of Oz for a Genuine Rest.” Glinda the Good Witch and her cohorts may not have been able to solve the problem of encroaching Nazism, but at least they provided a couple hours’ worth of comfort away from the horrors of the real world.

13. Busby Berkeley choreographed an extended (and deleted) version of "If I Only Had a Brain."

Another casualty of the cutting room floor, this extended “If I Only Had a Brain” sequence showcased Ray Bolger’s deft control over his seemingly elastic body. It is also extremely trippy and gave the Scarecrow the inexplicable ability to fly—which wasn’t going to gel with the rest of the movie (if the Scarecrow could fly, then why didn’t he go one-on-one with the Wicked Witch?). Luckily for Berkeley, the decision to delete this part of the scene in no way hurt the legendary director-choreographer’s place in the annals of movie musical history.

14. Margaret Hamilton used to sneak into Billie Burke's dressing room.

It’s not easy being green, as Margaret Hamilton can attest. The Wicked Witch actress’ sorry excuse for a dressing room was a canvas tent that, in Hamilton’s words, was “simply awful.” But Billie Burke, who portrayed Glinda the Good Witch, had her own thin slice of pink-and-blue-hued heaven on the MGM lot that was probably decorated by Glinda herself (in reality, Burke was the widow of vaudeville impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. and knew a thing or two about glamorous living). “She had a pink and blue dressing room,” said Hamilton in The Making of The Wizard of Oz. “With pink and blue powder puffs and pink and blue bottles filled with powder and baby oil. And pink and blue peppermints.” So on days Burke wasn’t on set, Hamilton admitted to eating her lunch in her co-star’s palace-like inner sanctum.

15. Shirley Temple was considered for the role of Dorothy.

At 10 years old, Shirley Temple fit the little-girl profile of Dorothy Gale much more than the teenaged Judy Garland. She was also a box office sensation who could guarantee packed movie houses. So it made good business sense that some of The Wizard of Oz's producers were considering the child star for the role. But the official reason for why Temple ultimately didn’t end up as Dorothy remains a part of Hollywood lore: it could have been because 20th Century Fox wouldn’t loan her to MGM for the film, or because Temple was supposedly part of an inter-studio trade with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow that fell through upon Harlow’s death in 1937. Also, while Temple may have charmed movie audiences with her cherubic renditions of “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” she didn’t stand a chance when going up against a vocal powerhouse like Garland.

16. Victor Fleming slapped Judy Garland in order to finish a shot.

Today, it would be considered abuse and grounds for immediate dismissal. But 76 years ago, slapping your star across the face was not only condoned, it actually produced results. When Judy Garland couldn’t get her giggles under control when Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion made his big entrance, director Victor Fleming didn’t have time to play games. He took Garland aside, whacked her on the cheek, and then ordered her to “Go in there and work.”

17. Jello-O was the secret ingredient behind the horse of a different color.

When Dorothy and her friends arrive in the Emerald City, they take a scenic tour around the fun-filled town courtesy of a cabbie and his Horse of a Different Color. In order to achieve the horse’s purple, then red, then yellow hue, the production team created a Jell-O-based tint that wouldn’t be harmful to the animals on set (yep, the ASPCA was involved). The gelatin powder worked wonders, except for the fact that the horses couldn’t stop licking its sugary sweetness off their coats!

18. The Wizard of Oz has several connections to Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

After Disney’s first-ever feature-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, did gangbusters at the box office following its 1937 release, MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer was determined to follow in Uncle Walt’s fairy-tale-to-screen footsteps. And once Mayer was in production on The Wizard of Oz, the Snow White influences were hard to avoid. Actress Gale Sondergaard was tested as the Wicked Witch of the West, with the intention that the character would be a sultry villainess à la Snow White’s Evil Queen. But even though producers ultimately decided that “Bad witches are ugly”—and Sondergaard lost out on the part—Snow White still literally managed to sneak into the picture unseen: Adriana Caselotti, who voiced Snow White in the Disney movie, sang the line “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” during the Tin Man’s lament, “If I Only Had a Heart.”

Additional Sources: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic documentary The Making of The Wizard of Oz, by Aljean Harmetz A Brief Guide to Oz: 75 Years Going Over the Rainbow, by Paul Simpson Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master, by Michael Sragow The Wizard of Oz FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Life According to Oz, by David J. Hogan

19 Facts About My So-Called Life On Its 25th Anniversary

Claire Danes and Jared Leto star in My So-Called Life (1994).
Claire Danes and Jared Leto star in My So-Called Life (1994).
ABC

On August 25, 1994, teenagers across the country were introduced to Angela Chase, Claire Danes's character in the beloved, albeit short-lived, teen drama My So-Called Life. On the 25th anniversary of the series' debut, we're taking a look back at the groundbreaking series.

1. Alicia Silverstone almost played Angela Chase.

Alicia Silverstone
Getty Images

While Claire Danes ended up playing Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, then-unknown Alicia Silverstone was considered for the role. The 16-year-old Silverstone was ultimately declared "too pretty" to play such a confused character by series co-executive producer Marshall Herskovitz, and 13-year-old Danes—who better fit the awkward teenager role—was chosen instead. Silverstone would get her breakout role one year later, in the form of Clueless's Cher Horowitz.

2. A.J. Langer also auditioned for the role of Angela.

Silverstone wasn't Danes' only competition for the role of Angela Chase. A.J. Langer also auditioned for the part before Danes landed the role. Instead, Langer got the role of Rayanne Graff, a troubled teen and Angela’s new best friend.

3. Rickie Vasquez was the first openly gay teenager on American network TV.

Wilson Cruz played the character of Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez on My So-Called Life. Although there were gay characters on TV before 1994 (Billy Crystal played the 20-something gay son Jodie Dallas on Soap back in 1977), Rickie Vasquez was the first openly gay teenage character on American network TV.

4. Jared Leto almost turned down the role of Jordan Catalano.


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Jordan Catalano was only supposed to appear in the pilot episode of My So-Called Life. "But as soon as we got Jared on film, we knew he had to be a continuing character," series creator Winnie Holzman said. Leto was also very hesitant to take the role because he was less interested in acting at the time and was flirting with the idea of going to art school instead. "I remember not being positive that he wanted to do it," Holzman said. "I was a little worried that he didn’t want the part that much. He seemed to have ambivalent feelings. Maybe I am projecting.”

5. The character of tino was never seen.

During the entire series run, the character of Tino was mentioned, but never seen.

6. The SERIES WAS Filmed at a Real High School.

The Pittsburgh-based Liberty High School is fictional. My So-Called Life was shot on location at University High School in Los Angeles. Filming took place during the school year, so students, teachers, and classes had to be shifted to other parts of the school that weren’t being used for production. The school was also used in 7th Heaven, Joan of Arcadia, and Arrested Development.

7. Series Creator Winnie Holzman MADE a cameo.

She played teacher Mrs. Krzyzanowski in the episode “Father Figures.” Holzman only appeared in one episode during the series run.

8. Jared Leto's Brother Also had a Role on the Show.

Jared Leto’s older brother Shannon appeared on My So-Called Life as Jordan Catalano’s bandmate (Frozen Embryo’s drummer) Shane. A few years later, in 1998, the brothers started the real-life rock band 30 Seconds To Mars. Jared Leto is the band's lead singer/guitarist and Shannon Leto plays drums.

9. Bess Armstrong had an Interesting Nickname.

Bess Armstrong, who played Angela’s mother Patty Chase, was nicknamed “Precious Poodle” while filming My So-Called Life. Actress Mary Kay Place, who played Sharon’s mother Camille Cherski, gave her the nickname.

10. Only two episodes don't have an Angela Chase Voiceover.

Angela Chase provides the voiceover in all the episodes except two: “Weekend,” which Danielle Chase narrated, and “Life of Brian,” which Brian Krakow narrated. Todd Holland directed both episodes.

11. My So-Called Life Faced Stiff Competition.


Getty Images

Though it was critically acclaimed, My So-Called Life had a difficult time finding new viewers thanks to its highly competitive time slot: The show aired on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. EST against Mad About You and Friends on NBC and Martin and Living Single on Fox.

12. It aired on MTV.

Before ABC officially canceled My So-Called Life in 1995, episodes aired during MTV’s Buzz Bin programming block—which usually featured music videos from up-and-coming alternative bands of the mid-'90s—in an attempt to build an audience for the struggling teen drama.

13. Fans Tried to Save the Show.

In 1995, Operation Life Support was a short-lived fan campaign to save My So-Called Life when it was on the verge of cancellation—the first online fan campaign undertaken to save a beloved TV show. Fans sent ABC thousands of letters that pleaded with network executives to renew the show for a second season and posted on AOL in an attempt to revive the teen drama from cancellation.

Ultimately, ABC canceled My So-Called Life after one 19-episode season due to its very low ratings and Danes’ reluctance to reprise her role as Angela Chase for another year. In 1996, she co-starred with Leonard DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet.

14. CLaire Danes won a Golden Globe for the role.


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In 1994, when she was just 15, Danes won a Golden Globe for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for playing Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, beating out Jane Seymour, Heather Locklear, and Angela Lansbury. Danes would later win three more Golden Globe Awards—one in 2011 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television for Temple Grandin and two for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama (one in 2012 and one in 2013) for playing Carrie Mathison on Showtime’s Homeland.

15. claire Danes Wasn't the Only Award Winner Among the Cast.

In 1995, My So-Called Life won three Youth In Film Awards for Best New Family Television Series and Best Performance by a Youth Ensemble in a Television Series. Lisa Wilhoit, who played Danielle Chase, tied with Earth 2’s J. Madison Wright for the Best Performance by a Youth Actress in a Drama Series award. Devon Gummersall, who played Brian Krakow, was nominated for Best Performance by a Youth Actor in a Drama Series, but lost to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’s Shawn Toovey.

16. There was a follow-up book.

In 1999, a novelization titled My So-Called Life Goes On continued the story of Angela Chase and her friends. Author Catherine Clark wrote the book, which goes for upwards of $80 on Amazon.

17. Graham Chase Was a Great Dad—According to TIME.

Tom Irwin’s Graham Chase was named one of TV Guide’s Top 50 TV Dads of All Time. The list also included the likes of Philip Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

18. The Show is Referenced in Juno.

In 2007, screenwriter Diablo Cody referenced My So-Called Life in her Academy Award winning movie Juno. The character of Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera, makes a comment about getting the band back together and Juno MacGuff replies, “Once Tino gets a new drumhead, we're just like ready to rock.”

19. The Ataris were influenced by the show.

Indiana Pop Punk/Emo band The Ataris wrote a song called “My So-Called Life.” The song chronicles The Ataris’ singer/songwriter Kristopher Roe’s obsession with Claire Danes.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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