'Groundhog Day' Was Inspired By (Of All Things) Anne Rice's Vampires
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Groundhog Day definitely had a longer shelf life than most movies '90s-'00s cable channels loved to overplay to death (where's our Joe's Apartment-naissance?). Between the 2016-2017 Groundhog Day musical that turned Phil Connors' multiple suicide attempts into a hopeful ballad ...
The 2019 Groundhog Day VR game that revealed time loops are hereditary ...
The 2020 Groundhog Day Super Bowl ad that established Phil didn't need existential enlightenment; he just needed a Jeep ...
And the multiple Die Hard But It's Groundhog Day action movies that have come out in the last decade, it's like we're stuck in that loop, reliving this plot over and over again. Well, the key to this movie's longevity might be the fact that it was, no joke, inspired by vampires. And not just any vampires, but Anne Rice's horny ones.
According to screenwriter Danny Rubin, he first came up with the basic gimmick of a man stuck repeating the same day over and over while forcing himself to fire off 50 movie ideas in two days (by 25, he was probably like "Casablanca 2," "Godfather Part II Part II," etc.). Rubin wrote down that idea in an index card and forgot about it until years later when he was sitting in an L.A. movie theater with this book in his hands:
As he waited for the movie to start, Rubin began thinking about what it would be like to be a vampire and live a long-ass time. How would one person change over time? What if that person was kind of an immature jerk in the first place? Would they eventually grow up and un-jerk themselves? While developing that idea, Rubin ran into a problem: if he wanted his protagonist to live for centuries, then the movie would either have to involve some medieval set pieces or end with everyone flying in jetpacks. That's when he remembered his time loop idea, which made everything simpler and improved his script's chances of actually being made (turns out studios are way less likely to finance your movie if the budget is higher than Micronesia's GDP).
While Rubin didn't initially think of the movie as a comedy, the first sequence he came up with was the one with his protagonist sexually manipulating a woman over repeated dates (there's that Anne Rice influence again), and he just went from there. Eventually, his script landed in the hands of director Harold Ramis, who slowly reshaped it from a sentimental romp with some funny moments into a comedy classic via repeated arguments with Bill Murray, at the cost of their friendship. Of course, we're guessing Murray would have been even grumpier during shooting if he'd been required to wear fake teeth and strap on a jetpack and a Star Trek-type visor.
Incidentally, we can all forgive Tom Cruise for ripping off Groundhog Day with Edge of Tomorrow now -- even though he hadn't played the vampire Lestat yet when Rubin read the book, it's clear that he was always destined to get time loop'd in.
Top image: Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures