Screen Facts Blog

Rounders Screen Facts

The rounder meaning is someone who travels city to city or venue to venue, seeking high-stakes card games. The poker world cult classic, Rounders, was written in 1997 by first-time screenplay writers, Brian Koppelman and David Levien. The film was directed by Jon Dahl and released in 1998 to moderate box office success. The film follows Matt Damon’s character, Mike McDermott, and his childhood friend Lester “Worm” Murphy, played by Edward Norton, as they play in high-stake poker games to clear a large debt. Filmed mainly in New York City and New Jersey, the movie follows the friends from New York City to Atlantic City, where stakes become higher than Mike anticipated. Check out various screen facts below.

World Series of Poker Promo Tour

Miramax, the studio behind Rounders, paid a $10,000 buy-in for both Matt Damon and Edward Norton to enter the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in 1998 as a promotional stunt for the film. Matt Damon ended up getting knocked out of the competition by former poker champion, Doyle Brunson. Damon had pocket Kings and went all in; Brunson had pocket Aces, beating Damon. Doyle’s book Super System appears early in the film, with Damon quoting lines from the book towards the end of the movie.

Neve Campbell Declined

Mike McDermott’s girlfriend, Jo, is played by Gretchen Mol. The role of Jo was initially offered to Neve Campbell, but she turned it down. Though the part is small, Jo serves as a plot device to advance the storyline and the drama of the grip the underground poker scene has on Mike.

Adjustments for Norton’s Character “Worm”

Worm was supposed to be a heavy smoker, but Edward Norton refused to take up smoking. Norton is a serious non-smoker and prioritized his health. The role was adjusted for the actor. Norton also ad-libbed many of his lines in the movie, which made it into the final production. 

Frequent Collaborators

Though the Rounders script was their first screenplay, writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien would write many projects together, including Ocean’s Thirteen, Runner Runner, Tilt and Billions.

Director Jon Dahl brought on a team of frequent collaborators of his own, including composer Christopher Young. He would have to create two original scores for the film. His first score was a dramatic work that did not go with the director’s image. Young made a more jazz sound and intertwined the original score to the updated jazz sound, meeting Dahl’s liking.

Many Poker Variations

Although No-Limit Texas Hold’em is played at the beginning and end of the movie, they play a wide variety of poker styles, including many 7 Card Stud variants, Forced Rotation, Limit Hold’em, Draw, and Pot-limit Omaha. All these styles are played in the World Series of Poker, while No-Limit Texas Hold’em is the main competition event.

Authentic Props

All the poker chips and decks of cards used in filming are authentic casino grade. Atlantic Standard Molding made the poker chips, and United States Playing Card Co. made the playing cards; both companies make official casino chips and cards.

Goatee from American History X

Edward Norton had just finished filming American History X before filming Rounders. He kept his goatee from that role and shaved it off in Rounders, as Worm, just before getting out from prison.

Screenwriters Made Film Appearance

Both the screenwriters, Brian Koppelman and David Levien, make a cameo appearance in the film. In the scene where Mike gives examples of tells in poker, the screenwriters are the examples. One of the tells is smoking.

Source: Club Poker | IMDB | TVOverMind

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Dead Ringers Screen Facts

The Dead Ringers movie follows two identical twin gynecologists, Beverly Mantle and Elliot Mantle, both played by Jeremy Irons. The doctors find themselves seducing and passing around their patients. They begin to lose their minds to lust and addictions when one of the brothers falls in love with Claire Niveau, played by Canadian actress, Geneviève Bujold. Released in 1988, Norman Snider and David Cronenberg co-wrote this Canadian film and Cronenberg directed. Check out the Dead Ringers screen facts below.

Based on a True Story

Dead Ringers’ true story is loosely based on Stewart and Cyril Marcus, both practicing gynecologists in New York City. At age 45, in 1975, the identical twin brothers were found dead in one of their Manhattan homes. Their deaths were speculation of barbiturate abuse and withdrawal combined with deteriorating mental illness over time.

Bari Wood and Jack Geasland wrote the book Twins, published in1977, inspired by this true story. Twins was the literary work adapted into the Dead Ringers screenplay.

Dual Lead Role

Actor Jeremy Irons played both lead characters. He used various methods to distinguish playing each brother. Irons played one role on the balls of his feet and the other on the heels. He had two separate dressing rooms and wardrobes for each character. While filming, Jeremy realized the audience was supposed to be confused about which brother was on screen; lines between brothers became blurred as the plot progressed. Each brother represented one half of a whole; alter egos to each other. To add to this confusion, Jeremy had his wardrobes combined into a single dressing room for both characters.

Alexander technique is a body posture method used to balance and realign the spine and movement in functional motions for different outcomes. Irons relied most on the ball/heel technique and other Alexander methods to differentiate between characters.

Third Choice: Jeremy Irons

William Hurt and Robert De Niro were both offered the lead, dual role before it went to Jeremy. Hurt turned it down due to filming conflicts, while De Niro turned it down because he felt uncomfortable acting as a gynecologist.

Dead Ringers Name

While in production, the film’s working title was: Gemini, but the production studio wanted a different name. They used the book, Twins’, name until Director Ivan Reitman approached David Cronenberg and purchased the title for the 1988 film, Twins, starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The name eventually became Dead Ringers.

Author’s Conclusion

Dead Ringers explores duality, individuality, eroticism, deception and narcissism. It follows an already dark plot of doctors taking advantage of their patients and professional associates. Each twin drawing on their strengths to fulfil their joint desires, often operating as one or each other.

Audiences must ask hard questions: “What in life is real?” “Does success equal happiness?” “The more we control, do we fall easier?” “Does having a partner in crime make things simpler?” “What happens when our partnerships shift?”

We see the slippery slope of stature and how easy it is to take advantage of the trust it brings, how relationships deteriorate when established on co-dependency. When one co-dependant wants more, addictive natures transition to new dependencies, these doctors fell apart when romantic love entered the equation. Suddenly sex and drugs became standard and messed with their established equilibrium.

Dead Ringers is a thought-provoking film with high entertainment value. With a 1988 release date, the production was ahead of its time.

Source: IMDB | Roger Ebert | New York Times | Alexander Technique

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Black Swan Screen Facts

The Black Swan movie is a psychological horror exploring paranoia, perfectionism, jealousy, the unhinged and the uninhibited. Director, Darren Aronofsky, dissects the high-art form of ballet and the hidden dramas behind the scenes in professional productions, including ageing-out, misogyny, competition, and favouritism. The film released in 2010 follows Natalie Portman’s character, Nina Sayers, as she becomes the lead in a New York City ballet company’s new season of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Lily, Mila Kunis’ character, comes along and reveals an unrestrained form of ballet that Nina both admires and is threatened by. The Black Swan script was written by Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin and Mark Heyman. Check out the various screen facts below.

A Year of Training

The Black Swan actress Natalie Portman took a year of ballet classes to prepare for the lead role. The star even paid for the lessons out of her pocket as the film was still securing its budget. Her dedication to the project helped Darren Aronofsky secure the modest funding of $13 million from investors, falling short of his desired $30 million. Black Swan co-star, Mila Kunis, trained every day for six months — three months of dance training and three months of regimented training to get her body looking like a ballerina’s. Both actresses lost 20 pounds for their roles.

Co-Starring with No Audition

Blake Lively and Eva Green both auditioned to play Lily. At Natalie Portman’s recommendation, the role went to Mila Kunis without an audition. Aronofsky had a Skype call with Kunis and decided she would be a perfect fit for the role. Oddly enough, Aronofsky would try to create a rivalry behind these scenes for the two leading ladies. He often sent messages of praise regarding the other’s performance in an attempt to make them compete against each other. Already friends, Portman and Kunis would simply congratulate each other for doing an excellent job after receiving these messages.

Black Swan Meaning

Nina Sayers is a technically perfect ballerina; she struggles to let go and allow her emotion to add to her dancing talents. The double role of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake requires Nina to perform both styles, pure perfection and raw release, highlighting polarity. The movie follows this both on the ballet stage and in Nina’s life. When Lily is seen as the more desirable ballerina for the role of Odile, Nina is threatened, and she goes through a series of awakenings. From the technically perfect young woman who is still tucked into bed every night by her mother; to a woman seemingly falling apart mentally but going after what she wants and creating new experiences. She discovers both pure perfection and raw release. Black Swan represents this transition and the retrospectively expected pain in mastering both sides of opposites.

Ten Years in Development

The script took ten years to develop, with three renditions. The first script by Andres Heinz had a different title and took place in an off-Broadway theatre instead of in a ballet company. Darren Aronofsky liked the original script but felt it would do better in the ballet world. John J. McLaughlin was brought on to change the setting, with final revisions by Mark Heyman. More than just the script, Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman had been in talks to do a project together since 2001.

True Love

Natalie Portman met her husband, Benjamin Millepied, the Black Swan choreographer, while filming. He was said to give Portman extra attention, causing other dancers to complain about needing the same support. Millepied even had a small scene in the Black Swan movie, where he was asked if he would “fuck this girl,” and he nods no. The couple married in 2012 and have two children—a son named Aleph, born in 2011, and a daughter Amalia, born in 2017.

Canon with The Wrestler (2008)

Darren Aronofsky’s previous 2008 film, The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke, is a part of the same universe as the Black Swan film. Though they are stand-alone films, Aronofsky considered making them one. Realizing combining ballet and wrestling into one project would be too much, he decided on two separate projects. Both the movies explore the dedication an individual has to their art-form. Aronofsky considers wrestling the lowest art-form and ballet the highest. It is a very subtle and thematic connection between the films, but the director carried over the same filming style into the newer project.

Natalie Portman Traded Her Trailer for a Medic

The film had a low budget and was physically demanding; initially, there was no medic on location. The filming proved to be more demanding than anticipated, with Natalie Portman getting many injuries, including a concussion. Portman would go on to dislocate a rib; this was the point she decided to trade her trailer for a medic. The next day of filming, she had no trailer but an onsite medic. The film scene where Portman is receiving physical therapy is a real session with a physical therapist.

Source: Natalie Portman | Screen Rant | Thought Catalog | Eonline

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About the Author: Cyprianos Carasoulos

Cyprianos Carasoulos is a writer, dreamer and idea encourager based in Toronto, ON. Cyprianos first met Caitlin Devon, working towards a Creative Writing Certificate in short stories at the University of Toronto. Where they grew a friendship, starting with simple writing prompts, they became collaborators, editors and confidants on various projects. He is an avid fan of pop culture, including art, music, film and television. Looking at the world through a deceivingly simple lens, he often writes in double meanings. Gathering screen facts and background information from Hollywood projects drives his imagination.