We all generally have a pretty good idea of who we can thank for the things we love reading, watching, and/or listening to, right? The people whose names are in big letters across the box, poster, cover, or whatever? Well ... no. Sometimes, a big name makes a pretty significant contribution, and almost nobody knows about it until a comedy website shines light on the fact ...
If the name Chuck Lorre means anything to you, you probably recognize him as the guy behind Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, or some other sitcom your parents have tried to rope you into watching. But early on in his career, he tried to be a songwriter, too, which involved, uh, creating a theme for a kids' show called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, that one. The one that's probably playing in your head right now.
Child-hood Ear-worms Last Forever!
So how did the mind behind the most basic ass sitcoms end up writing the greatest cartoon theme of all time? Well, when he heard about to gig, he "begged and pleaded" to do it ...
... and was told hell no because the studio was set on the Turtles' voice actors doing the theme song. But all the actors apparently just said, "Screw that." So fate smiled at Lorre, in the form of a studio executive telling him he has 48 hours and $2,000 to deliver a theme song.
Lorre and his partners read all issues of the comic, took a look at some very early animation, figured each character's shtick, and made that into the theme. He then rented a studio from midnight to 8 AM because that was cheapest ($2,000 doesn't go very far for studio time). That studio also happened to be used by the band Journey at the time, and the TMNT theme song was recorded at 5 AM with Journey's touring equipment strewn around everywhere. Which sadly, wouldn't be the Turtles last brush with rock instruments.
Coyote Ugly isn't exactly what you'd call a Kevin Smith movie. Which is a bit odd, considering they hired Smith to do a script rewrite at one point. However, the end result wasn't the typical Smith rewrite. He was convinced that dialogue was the main reason anyone would want him on rewrites, and pretty much the opposite of that happened: they took out the dialogue but kept a ton of his other stuff.
Pretty much all the names in Coyote Ugly come from Kevin Smith's draft of the script. They also kept many of his scenes and set pieces, including parts with characters meeting and talking that weren't there in earlier drafts -- but, ironically, with someone else's dialogue. Smith says the only line of his they kept was "I'm not a lesbian. I played in the minors, but never went pro."
Also, the father became a wildly different character. Before Smith had gotten his hands on the script, he was an "old-country Italian type," which means we were spared wild gestures and shouts of, "Marone! My daughter is Coyoting over here!" But Smith gave him a job at the Garden State Parkway and made him "John Goodman" like ... which would explain why they cast John Goodman.
Shockingly, one thing Smith absolutely did not put in was making the main character's love interest a comics fan. He didn't put Amazing Spider-Man #109 into the script, either. Despite being a big enough nerd to actually own his own comic book shop, both of those details showed up in a rewrite after his.
Tom Stoppard is a highly praised British playwright, and screenwriter who writes stuff like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (a riff on Shakespeare's Hamlet) and Shakespeare In Love (a riff on Ben Affleck trying to do an English accent). And, although he's uncredited, he's also pretty much responsible for Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade as you know it. Not only did he write almost all of the dialogue, he also put in just about everything that makes the movie fun and gives it an emotional core.
Remember the scene where Indy's dad runs at the seagulls with his umbrella, making them fly into the Nazi plane? That's Stoppard's idea. The original version had Indy's dad shoot his one remaining bullet into the seagulls to make them fly away -- which is less original and even less charming. Stoppard also added stuff like one bullet killing three Nazis, everyone thinking Indy was dead for a moment, and Indy using his whip to save his dad. He also made the "junior" running joke pop up more often, and had Indy and his dad call each other "dad" or "son" more often to play up their bond. Plus, Stoppard put in the motorcycle chase scene when Spielberg asked him for some action. Basically, he wrote all the fun bits.
We dare you to imagine that movie without this scene.
Stoppard also came up with the series of puzzles Indy has to solve at the end. In the original script, when Indy gets to the temple, he just has to follow these instructions: "Three paces from the shield of St George. Feel the breath of God and advance." So he finds that shield and takes three steps, then a swinging blade knocks his hat off, and ... uh ... that's it! He's in the room with the Grail and knight. No leap of faith, no nothing. You're probably sensing a theme: that everything that makes this movie stand out was added by Stoppard.
And he did all that at the last minute. All the stuff we're talking about shows up only in the script's final draft -- the only one Stoppard submitted. Apparently, his experience writing funny plays that handle important themes was perfect for this movie.
You probably haven't heard of production designer Sir Ken Adam, but he was one of Stanley Kubrick's long-time collaborators and someone who came to regret that collaboration. Yes, Kubrick was brilliant, but, as we've mentioned, working with him was sheer hell. Or, perhaps, like a drawn-out abusive relationship -- Adam says that he "was incredibly close with him. It was almost like an unhealthy love affair between us. And I had a breakdown eventually." Thisended with Adam hospitalized for weeks for stress (caused by work on the movie Barry Lyndon) and vowing to never work with Kubrick again. A vow Adam would be forced to break, which led to Kubrick leaving a handprint on the James Bond franchise.
See, years later, Adam was working on The Spy Who Loved Me, and he'd built a supertanker set. But it turned out that lighting the set was a huge problem, which he had no idea how to solve. So, swallowing his pride, he called up Kubrick and asked him to come down to the studio to toss his brain at it.
Kubrick first thought Adam was nuts. But, eventually, he said he'd come on a Sunday as not to be seen by anyone but security guards -- apparently, Kubrick really, really didn't want anyone to know he was coming to that set. Or maybe he just liked it that way: Adam says the secrecy of it all just appeared to Kubrick's highly developed sense of drama. The result was that Kubrick and Adam talked for three to four hours about ideas for how to light the set, and Adam's problem was apparently solved.
It was the last time they'd worked together in any way, though. Adam went back to ghosting him, and Kubrick never asked him to. Adam thinks Kubrick didn't approach him again because he was scared of what had happened on Barry Lyndon. Which, if true, was an uncharacteristic and probably unique awakening of conscience on Kubrick's part.
While shooting Mad Max: Fury Road in Namibia, George Miller called Vagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler to come down and talk to the actors. The movie is about people surviving in a post-apocalyptic warzone, so he wanted actors -- especially those playing Immortan Joe's "wives" -- to hear about the experiences of women who survived violence in war zones. If you think it sounds kind of bizarre for a major Hollywood production, you're right, which is the reason she agreed to do it.
Well, that and the fact that she thought the script was amazing. Ensler liked that the older women fighters were just as capable as the men, that Furiosa and Max were allies rather than lovers, and that women in the movie could be compassionate but still stay fierce. She saw that Fury Road was a feminist action movie and a woman's story at heart, so she was happy to help it.
Ensler, who'd been working to end violence against women for 20 years and had worked with women in places like Haiti, Afghanistan, Congo, and Bosnia, spent a week telling the actors about what their characters might be going through. She talked about what it might mean to, say, be carrying your rapist's child, to have been held captive as a sex slave, or to dissociate from your body after rape. And what were the results of that no-doubt-grueling work?
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who played Splendid, says it fleshed out the characters. Because they could work with Ensler and "pick her brain for a week," the wives gained backgrounds and ended up being more than beautiful girls who switch between screaming, looking terrified, and acting timid. And, sometimes, headbutty.
Top image: Warner Bros. Pictures