Screen Facts Blog

Devil’s Advocate Screen Facts

Devil’s Advocate is a 1997 film that follows a no-loss criminal defence attorney after he’s offered a high-end job at a New York City law firm. Kevin Lomax, played by Keanu Reeves, begins to have devilish apparitions while working beneath his new boss, John Milton played by Al Pacino. Directed by Taylor Hackford and written by Tony Gilroy, Jonathan Lemkin and Andrew Neiderman; the themes of this movie are clear, vanity, gluttony and what people are willing to do to acquire excessive wealth. Check out the screen facts of Devil’s Advocate below. 

Al Pacino’s Hesitation

The film was originally meant to be visual effects oriented and closer to a blockbuster movie. For this reason, Al Pacino turned down the role of John Milton five times. Kevin Spacey and Richard Gere were also considered for the role. Taylor Hackford orchestrated numerous script rewrites and then offered it to Pacino again. He admitted that he liked it more, but thought he couldn’t portray Milton well enough. Pacino suggested Sir Sean Connery or Robert Redford for the role. 

Ironically, Pacino ended up winning Best Actor for the Saturn Award and the Chainsaw Award. He took a risk with this role and it paid off. 

Inspired by Real Life

In order to prepare for this role, Keanu Reeves spent time around real defense attorneys in New York City. In addition, Alex Cullen’s home was inspired by a real financier and Wall Street villain: Donald Trump. The private residential multi-level apartment at the Trump Tower was used to provide a familiar New York City backdrop. 

Charlize Theron also spent time preparing for her part. In New York City, she would meet with a psycho-therapist to “practice schizophrenia” for one hour a day over the three month shooting period. 

Outdoor Patio Shot

At one point in the movie, John Milton shows Kevin Lomax his outdoor patio. It has no railings stopping someone from falling over the edge. The patio actually exists on the fiftieth floor of a New York City building. The stage was merely eight feet away from the edge of the deathly patio. Many thought this was a blue or green screen shot, but the actors were really standing on the edge.  

Paradise Lost

John Milton’s character was named after the author of Paradise Lost, a classic epic about man’s fall from God’s grace. More specifically, a poem about the biblical story of the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel, Satan, and their rejection from the Garden of Eden. Themes of heaven and hell, right and wrong and choosing your fate are clear in the Devil’s Advocate making the Milton reference clever. At one point, Pacino says in the film, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven,” which is a quote from Paradise Lost Book I. To prepare for the role, Pacino reportedly read the book too. 

Keanu & Charlize

In this movie, Lomax and his wife, Mary Ann, are meant to be close in age. In actuality, Keanu Reeves was 31 and Charlize Theron was 21 during filming. A few years later, they would star as a couple again in the film, Sweet November, which was released in 2001. 

Source: IMDb

Screen Facts Blog

I, Tonya Screen Facts

In 1994, the figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, made headlines when she was attacked by Tonya Harding and her boyfriend, Jeff Gillooly, over their extreme desire to win the Winter Olympics. Over two decades later, the Harding-Kerrigan scandal is revisited in the film, I, Tonya, which was released in 2017. The director, Craig Gillespie, and screenwriter, Steven Rogers, made it their goal to tell the tale as authentically as possible in the film. Check out the I, Tonya screen facts below. 

The Triple Axel

In 1991, Tonya Harding was the first American woman to land a triple axel in competition. This moment was a significant milestone for Harding and a big moment in I, Tonya. Although, filming the triple axel was tricky considering that only a handful of people in the world can successfully execute the jump. “There has been only six women since Tonya Harding who have done a triple axel, even if there was one who was doing it today, she’d be training for the Olympics and couldn’t risk doing it for the film,” Tom Ackerly, one of the producers, stated. The jump was portrayed in the film using visual effects. 

Short Filming Time

The entire movie was shot over 30 days. The part of Tonya’s mother, LaVona Golden, was shot in only 8 days. Allison Janney won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as LaVona. 

Figure Skaters of the Past

Margot Robbie, who played Tonya Harding, was never a figure skater — but she was once a member of an amateur ice hockey league. Robbie had to train extensively for the role. In fact, she had met with the real Harding before filming started. They discussed difficulties Margot had during her ice skating sessions. According to Robbie, Tonya was really kind when trying to help her and even offered to teach her some techniques at a rink near Tonya’s residence. Unfortunately, Margot hadn’t brought her skates to the meeting so they weren’t able to train together. 

On the other hand, Allison Janney, who played LaVona, seriously trained as a figure skater in childhood and adolescence. Unfortunately, when she was 17, she walked into a sliding glass door accidentally and severely injured her right leg. During an interview in 2014, Janney said her leg was almost amputated from the freak accident. “I lost like three-quarters of my blood. I lost an artery and cut tendon… I was in the hospital for like seven, eight weeks. I missed my first year of college. You know, and after that, of course, I didn’t really — I didn’t skate for a very long time,” Allison revealed. 

Strange Props

In order to avoid damaging her hair, Margot Robbie wore wigs while acting as Harding. The hair team used beer to make her wigs look “crunchy.” Apparently, regular hair products didn’t produce the desired result which is why the team had to improvise. While Robbie understandably didn’t want to style her real hair in an 80s perm, she was a fan of the hair scrunchie look. She took several scrunchies throughout filming. 

Many viewers enjoyed the comical scenes where LaVona had a bird perched on her shoulder. Allison Janney wasn’t a huge fan of birds which made it challenging for her to film these scenes. The production team “auditioned” three different birds before choosing one they nicknamed “Little Man.” They choose this specific fella because he was the least hyperactive. 

Disapproval from the Opposition

One of the biggest characters in the film is Nancy Kerrigan. She stated in an interview related to her Dancing with the Stars appearance that she would not watch I, Tonya, regardless of not knowing how much of the film would feature her. “I already lived through that,” she said. However, Kerrigan’s former choreographer, Sarah Kawahara, helped Robbie train for her role in the film. 

Writing the Script

Steven Rogers conducted interviews with Tonya Harding and her boyfriend, Jeff Gillooly. “Their stories were so wildly contradictory,” Rogers said. “I thought, ‘That’s my in.’ I’ll just show everybody’s point of view and then let the audience decide what they want to decide. Everyone’s trying to control the narrative… They’re all telling themselves what they need to know to be able to live with themselves.” 

Allison Janney is a long time friend of Rogers. He’s written several scripts with her in mind for specific roles, but she was never cast in any of them until I, Tonya. Unfortunately, LaVona was never tracked down for an interview. Her portrayal in the film is built off of old documentary footage and creative licenses. 

Source: IMDb | Mental Floss

Screen Facts Blog

Arrested Development Screen Facts

Arrested Development season 1 made its debut to the world in 2003. After three seasons, it was cancelled by their network at the time, FOX. The show wasn’t cancelled because it had poor reviews, it was put to a stop due to low viewership. The beloved show made a return with two seasons alongside Netflix in 2013. Today, Arrested Development is considered a cult classic and set the stage for other popular sitcoms like The Office, Archer and Community. Check out Arrested Development’s screen facts below. 

Non-Regulars Became Regulars

Tobias Fünke, played by David Cross, and George Bluth, played by Jeffrey Tambor, weren’t supposed to be regular characters. However, they tested well so the writers decided to make them staples of the series. Can you imagine what Arrested Development would be like without Tobias and George? 

The brilliant Arrested Development narrator, Ron Howard, wasn’t supposed to voice over the show either. He was filling in for someone during the pilot, but they kept Howard because his voice “worked.

Michael Cera’s Citizenship

As many fans of the show probably know, Michael Cera is from Canada, specifically Brampton. After securing the role of George Michael Bluth, he had issues with his work visa. In fact, Cera was almost unable to complete work on the pilot episode because of the visa complications. In order to get the visa documentation he needed, Cera had to go to Tijuana, Mexico. Michael Angarano, who you might recognize from Almost Famous or Sky High, was on standby to replace Cera if he was unable to get his visa, or worse, was deported. 

Easter Eggs

Today, Arrested Development is widely known as a cult classic series. One of the things that makes it so great are the Easter Eggs which are clever jokes or references that only avid fans would pick up on. There are tons of Easter Eggs in Arrested Development, but some are more memorable than others. 

For example, GOB Bluth, played by Will Arnett, is often on a Segway. Whenever he rides it, the showrunners made sure he was interacting with another character so he was always “segueing” the conversation. Another ongoing joke is secret surveillance companies using the word “Blendin” in their fake company name. There are a number of companies in the show that use this logic, such as “Blendin Electric Company” and “Blendin Catering”. Last one — many jokes are made about “hop-ons.” The concept is never formally explained, but it is someone who hops on to the Bluth stair car for a ride. When the family cottage is moved on the back of a truck, a joke is made about “live-ins.

“On the Next Arrested Development”

After each episode, there is usually a preview of the next episode that is introduced with the narrator saying, “on the next Arrested Development.” More often than not, these scenes do not appear in the next episode or anywhere else in the series. Instead, they are a part of the story and continuity. 

The Nevernude Affliction

Each character in the series has their own form of Arrested Development, hence the title of the show. Tobias is a nevernude which is actually a real psychological affliction called gymnophobia. It is clinically defined as a persistent and unusual fear of nudity. Individuals with this affliction fear seeing others being naked or being seen naked or both. In Tobias’ case, he was fearful of being seen naked, likely because of his inability to face his sexuality. The jean shorts were simply a unique addition to his nevernudeness. 

Film or Series? 

The first three seasons of Arrested Development aired on FOX between 2003 and 2006. However, the series was cancelled due low ratings and viewership on FOX despite positive feedback from critics and viewers. 

After the series was cancelled, the cast was going to do a movie to wrap up the story. Unfortunately, it was delayed several times. The gap between the series ending and making a movie became very large. If they were to do a film, they realized the screen time to get the audience up to speed would take up too much of the run time. Instead, they opted for Arrested Development season 4 which aired in 2013 on Netflix. 

Source: IMDb | Cheat Sheet

Screen Facts Blog

American Psycho Screen Facts

The American Psycho director, Mary Harron, did an excellent job portraying concepts of conformity and the cryptic effect that it has on one’s sociability, lifestyle and sanity. Even though the film came out in 2000, the psychological thriller is still viewed as one of the best of all time. The setting is in New York City, but the American Psycho filming locations were predominantly in Toronto, Ontario. The American Psycho script was written by Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner. Check out various screen facts below. 

Eight Years in the Making

The American Psycho novel by Bret Easton Ellis was published in 1991. One year later, Edward Pressman, a producer, bought the movie rights to the novel. From that point onward, it took eight years to get the American Psycho film to the big screen. 

Selecting the right actor for the role of Patrick Bateman was one of the reasons the film took so long to create. Originally, Stuart Gordan, the director of Re-Animator, was to direct American Psycho. He wanted Johnny Depp to be the lead, but Ellis didn’t think he was right for the role. 

Later on, Mary Harron was to be the director and Christian Bale was to be the lead. But executives of the film wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to be the lead and Oliver Stone to be the director. This was news to Harron and Bale, so they refused to meet with DiCaprio. “There’s something very boyish about him,” Harron said at the time. “He’s not credible as one of these tough Wall Street guys.” Funny enough, Leo would star in The Wolf of Wall Street nearly 15 years later. 

One Take Mask Scene

One of the most iconic scenes in the film is when Bateman slowly peels off his morning face mask. This moment tells us that there’s layers to Bateman’s persona and he’s lost in various masks or realities. The shot is incredibly powerful and the mask miraculously comes off in one piece. The scene only took one take.

The Career Warning

On numerous occasions, Bale was advised not to take the Patrick Bateman role because people thought it would be “career suicide.” He revealed that many people told him taking on a devious character would negatively impact his career. However, Bale used all the negativity to drive the project and his performance forward. In retrospect, accepting the role was absolutely the right choice because American Psycho is commonly viewed as one of his best performances. 

One of the reasons Harron thought Bale was the best choice for the role is the fact that he is actually quite dorky and so is Bateman. In the film, Bateman attempts to hide his nerdiness using suaveness which is a subtle touch of his character. Most people thought Bateman was a cool dude, but he’s much deeper than that and Harron realized it. 

“Don’t Touch the Watch”

In the book, Bateman drops the line, “Don’t touch the Rolex,” in disgust. Since the film was so macabre, the production team had trouble getting the brands they wanted, including Rolex. The luxury watch company agreed to have a Rolex watch shown in the movie, but only to be worn by other characters, not Bateman. This is also why the line was adjusted to, “Don’t touch the watch.

Feminism Push Back

Gloria Steinem, the renowned feminist and journalist, was opposed to both the book and the film. She believed that the violence depicted against women would be harmful to audiences. Apparently Steinem went as far as trying to talk DiCaprio out of taking the role, but this was a rumor. 

Oddly, Steinem married Bale’s father, David Bale, on September 3, 2000. This was less than a year after American Psycho’s premier. Unfortunately, their romance was short lived as David died of brain lymphoma in 2004 at the age of 62. 

Bale’s Commitment to Fitness and the Role

Even though there was a risk that Bale might have lost the role to DiCaprio, he stayed true to his commitment with Harron. In fact, he continued with his fitness regime to prepare for the role and said, “I just pretended it didn’t happen.” Bale worked out six days per week for three hours with a personal trainer. 

I’m English so I never go to a gym, but for that role it was part of the whole deal that I had to go. I still kept going down to the gym everyday because I was going, ‘Oh, I’m making the film’,” Bale said. “I would call Mary Harron – she’d be having a nice dinner with her family – and I’d go, ‘So Mary, so when we do this scene…’ And she’d go, ‘Christian, Oliver Stone is directing, DiCaprio is playing your role.’ I said, ‘Right, but you said it, my role, all right? It is coming back, so let’s talk about it, because it’s coming back to us.’” Bale was right because after nine months the American Psycho project was handed back to him and Harron. 

Afterthoughts from the Author and Director

Bret Easton Ellis was involved in the film’s creation so his thoughts on the finished product were important. There were two things he didn’t like about the movie. First, he didn’t love that the American Psycho ending had so much ambiguity. Mary Harron agrees on this too and actually called it a failure, despite the film’s immense success. 

The second thing Ellis didn’t like was much more nominal. He was not a fan of the moonwalk Bateman does in his apartment right before murdering Paul Allen, played by Jared Leto. In addition, Harron didn’t like that Jared’s character was named Paul Allen. In the novel, his name was Paul Owen. Harron picked Allen as a last name from a list, but feels poorly about it because some believe the film is connected to Microsoft’s co-founder, Paul Allen. She has publicly stated this was a coincidence and definitely not intentional. 

Source: Mental Floss | Hartford Courant | Cinema Blend

Screen Facts Blog

About the Author: Caitlin Devon

Caitlin Devon is an entrepreneur, writer and accountant. She is currently the owner and operator of the Screen Facts blog and VO Writing Company. Caitlin is currently working on a few creative projects, including two screenplays and a poetry book. In addition to her entrepreneurial work, she is a volunteer finance manager with the Etobicoke Humane Society. When Caitlin isn’t working, she enjoys listening to music, going to the gym, reading and watching films.

Creative Writing Portfolio

Retail Therapy

a villanelle

Everything is tolerable when I consume

What will I buy today to cure the blues?

It’s only sunny when I throw away my money

Tons of online shops I browse, creep and lurk

Seeking euphoria from latest shoes

Everything is tolerable when I consume

When I find something I desire, I smirk

Pull out my credit card and pay my dues

It’s only sunny when I throw away my money

Once again, I return to my glum work

Endure more fresh capitalist abuse

Everything is tolerable when I consume

Follow this steady cycle like clockwork

Empty wallet for things I hardly use

It’s only sunny when I throw away my money

Once again, despair goes beyond berserk

Once again, e-shops I peruse and cruise

Everything is tolerable when I consume

It’s only sunny when I throw away my money

Creative Writing Portfolio

The Perfect Face

a dramatic monologue

As soon as I wake up

I must apply makeup

Steps done in exact order

To soothe my appearance disorder

I’m hiding behind a mask

To escape scrutiny’s grasp

One day I’m too thin

The next I’m too fat

People criticize my skin

Everyday feels like combat

Stand in front of the mirror

Start with prep and prime

Next is some shimmer

Then my eye I outline

Foundation applied as a base

Wrinkles I rid

Redness I erase

Brows are full

Shadow on the lid

Lips colourful

Once I’m done

I step back 

At myself I stun

I swear I’m not a megalomaniac

Then a million pictures I take

Where my face is all fake

“So why all the makeup?” one may ask

Appearance is my ultimate task

Because my life is over publicized

Without makeup, I would never be prized

I’d be no one

I’m just trying to keep up with the Kardashians

Hoping my name too will have meaning for eons

Creative Writing Portfolio

Unconventional Love

NYC Midnight Microfiction Challenge Competition, 250 words, 2020 submission.

Alexandra and Drew stroll across the Charles Bridge, hand in hand. They stop beside the Madonna statue and look at Prague. 

“Did you think about what I said?” Alexandra asks. 

Drew grimaces. “I did. I still don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Why not? We get along, we’re happy. Isn’t that what marriage is all about?” 

Drew sighs. “I suppose. But your family doesn’t like me, I’m too ordinary. They’re always complaining about how I dress and what I say. You deserve someone better.” 

“You know I don’t care about any of that,” Alexandra reasons. 

“I know, I know. But wouldn’t it be better to be with someone wealthy?” asks Drew. “For Christ’s sake, I can’t even afford a hotel or bloody dinner! It must be embarrassing for you.” 

“Drew. Look at me,” Alexandra says, now facing Drew instead of the water. He turns to her. “I don’t care about money or what car you drive or where you work. My parents have been trying to set me up with a capitalist drone for years! It’s just not me. I love you and that’s why I think we should get married.”

Drew faces the water again. Pause. “Okay. Let’s get married.” 

“Really?” Alexandra’s face is a stifled glow. 

“Really. I love you.” 

Alexandra throws her arms over Drew’s shoulders and shrieks with warm passion. She grabs his hand and walks towards the Prague market. 

“C’mon, let’s go ring shopping,” Alexandra says. Drew smiles.

Creative Writing Portfolio

A Dog Walks Into a Bar

The dog, Walter, saunters into the bar. He’s greeted by the drunken guests.

‘Oooooo look, a doggie!’ One woman said with intoxicated excitement. 

A man made a clicking noise with his tongue and cheek, his hand outstretched.

Overwhelmed by the shouts and commands of cock-eyed people, Walter retires to a small room at the back of the bar. The tipsy crowd moves on to the regular mode of entertainment, hockey. 

The bar owner had come to know Walter. One day, Walter came inside the bar because of the blistering cold. He just wanted somewhere warm to stay. Ever since that day, the bar owner always left him an old pillow to lay on in addition to a bowl of water and food. 

Walter liked the bar owner, Jerry. Unlike the drunken crowd that he served, Jerry is reserved and quiet. Walter often wondered how he got into the bar business. He was too kind to be working long nights with nasty crowds. Perhaps it was good money, Walter often thought while he stayed in the back room. Or maybe he inherited the bar? 

After washing down treats with water, Walter lay on the pillow to warm up. Through the thin walls, he could overhear booze driven conversations. Most of it was slurred nonsense or small talk, but then he hears something interesting. 

‘Did I – did I tell you about-about the hidden t-t-treasure?’ One man said, heavily slurring his words.

‘Wha? Hidden-den treasure?’ Another man replied, equally intoxicated. 

‘Well not tre-treasure, but loootsss o’ money. A couple d-died several years-s ago. They were m-m-murdered and the money was s-s-supposedly left.’ The first man said. 

Walter wondered, could it be real? Or just two drunken men shooting the shit? Walter decides he wants to find out. He leaves the comfort of his pillow to find Jerry.