20 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Bruce Almighty’ on Its 20th Anniversary
It’s been 20 years since Morgan Freeman became our most famous Movie God, and Steve Carell had everyone in stitches with that teleprompter scene where he looks like he’s having a stroke. To say that Bruce Almighty was a huge success is an understatement, as the movie not only killed at the box office but also succeeded in becoming well-known worldwide for both good and bad reasons.
Here are some trivia tidbits about the one where Jim Carrey’s character gets divine powers only to conjure up a monkey from a random gang member’s butt…
The Deleted Scene with the Jennifer Aniston Joke
In a cut scene (that you can watch below at the 0:29 mark), Aniston’s character Grace is scanning a magazine in a grocery store. On the front of the tabloid is a series of photos of some famous celebrity with the title, “Suzanna’s New ‘Do’!” Grace then says, “Such a shame. This girl is so talented, and all they ever talk about is her hair.”
There’s a Hindi Musical Remake
Called God Tussi Great Ho, the 2008 Indian comedy musical starring Priyanka Chopra leans heavily on the plot of Bruce Almighty, only with a lot more singing and dancing and, you know, less Carrey antics.
The Horrific Scene That Was (Thankfully) Cut
The scene we got:
The scene we almost got, as explained by Carell himself: “The part they cut out was when Jim Carrey makes my nose start to bleed profusely, which they thought too mean of him to do as a character. And then my head burst into flames.” According to Carell, the crew rigged a gas line to his head to set it on fire Michael Jackson-style for real.
The Teleprompter Scene Was Not in the Original Script
The teleprompter scene where Evan Baxter’s head does not spontaneously combust was the product of a rewrite. “Our Steve Carell part was basically the manager of the car sales place,” screenwriter Mark O’Keefe previously revealed. “So the dynamic was there — he was getting the guy to say stuff just like on-air and was fucking with him like that. We had something analogous, but again, they did it brilliantly. I also think Steve Carell improvised some of that.”
The Movie Was Banned in Egypt
Egypt opted to ban Bruce Almighty, stating that the movie undermined Muslim and other religious values. More specifically, the country’s director of artistic censorship said, “It harms the Almighty by daring to have him incarnated by an actor.” The film was also banned in Malaysia following objections by conservative Muslims. Over in Jordan, the film was shown in some theaters, but with the scene where Bruce parts the Red Sea cut from the release.
The Director and Carrey Already Had a History
The Original Script Was Way Sillier
Originally written by O’Keefe (Click), Steve Koren (Seinfeld, Veep) and Steve Oedekerk (Kung Pow! Enter the Fist) before the aforementioned big rewrite, Bruce Almighty was envisioned as a raunchy comedy in “the style of the Farrellys.” According to the writers, there were a lot more boob jokes, and Bruce was “much more of an idiot.” His character was also a car salesman before they changed him to a field reporter.
The Man Who Almost Sued the Studio
Robert Bausch published a book in the early 1990s called Almighty Me, which features a car salesman in a troubled marriage who gets to play God for a year. Bausch sold the rights to his novel to Disney, but nothing ever came of it. A decade later, Universal Pictures released Bruce Almighty, and Bausch and his lawyers made a case for a possible plagiarism lawsuit, citing similarities to his book that ended up filling a total of four pages. Bausch felt that he had grounds to sue since Disney distributed the film internationally through Buena Vista, but the lawsuit was ultimately dropped.
The Most Famous Comedy Monkey
The Deleted Scene Where Bruce Discovers Bigfoot
There was a lot more slapstick comedy that ended up on the cutting room floor. In a deleted scene below (at the 2:00 mark), Bruce jumps out of a plane and skydives during a live report while the wind blows so much air into his mouth that his face looks like a parachute. He then plummets to the ground when his gear fails, only for his fall to be broken by Bigfoot.
God’s Phone Number Ended Up Being a Nuisance for Some Folks
In the movie, God’s number is 776-2323, with no area code on Bruce’s pager. Some viewers ended up phoning that number, asking to speak to God and annoying the living daylights out of the people on the other end of the line. One Florida woman threatened to sue Universal, and the number also connected to a church in Sanford, North Carolina, where a pastor was actually named Bruce. Pastor Bruce was reportedly not amused.
If Carrey Didn’t Do ‘Bruce Almighty’ He Might’ve Been Captain Jack Sparrow
Turns out Carrey was first approached to play the bumbling pirate of the Caribbean before the part ultimately went to Johnny Depp. Carrey instead chose to play the bumbling news reporter of Buffalo, New York. Thank Morgan Freeman.
Jim Breuer Was the Alternative to Carrey
The writers had Breuer in mind to play dorky Bruce and even considered Chris Farley and Will Ferrell as backups. “We went into (Shadyac’s) office, and he’s like, ‘Okay, it’s up to you guys. If you want to try to make it right now, we can give it to Jim Breuer, or we can take a big swing and try to get Jim Carrey,’” O’Keefe has remembered. “We were like, ‘Okay, let’s just let’s take that swing because it’s a much bigger swing.’ And it worked out.”
The Unmade Sequel
Screenwriters Steve Koren and O’Keefe had an idea for a sequel titled Brucifer, which would’ve seen Grace die and Bruce mourning her death while also turning into Satan. Of course, this wouldn’t have worked at all because we all know that’s not Widower Guy behavior — that’s Divorced Guy behavior.
There Was a Lot More of Jim Carrey Doing Jim Carrey in the Original Footage
Carrey got to do a lot of his over-the-top mannerisms in the movie, but the film’s final cut portrayed him as a slightly more straitlaced character than, say, that pet detective talking out of his ass. The scenes that did get cut, however, were way less grounded and saw Carrey go to his signature wacky place a lot.
The Bruce Springsteen Effect
It turns out that Bruce was named after Bruce Springsteen because the writers are big fans of “The Boss” and, as is the custom, those fans will make their fandom known.
The Movie Made Half a Billion Dollars Worldwide
Bruce Almighty was a great success, grossing nearly $500 million worldwide on a $81 million budget. It topped the U.S. box office on the weekend of its release, beating out The Matrix Reloaded, Eddie Murphy’s Daddy Day Care and X2: X-Men United.
There Was a Reference to Lance Armstrong in the Original Cut
In one of the movie’s deleted scenes (5:05 below), God shows Bruce the consequences of him recklessly granting everyone’s silly little prayers. After providing clips of some horrible outcomes, God then shows Bruce Lance Armstrong, the famous cyclist who overcame testicular cancer and won a few of Tour de Frances. God then lectures Bruce about people needing to go through hard times to come out on top, saying, “Triumph is born out of struggle. Faith is the alchemist. If you want to paint pictures like this, you have to use some dark colors.” Movie God clearly had no idea about the power of doping.
The Near Crane Disaster on Set
It was reported far and wide that, while filming the movie, a gust of wind caused a crane to fall and almost crush Aniston. Luckily, Carrey heroically pushed her out of harm’s way. However, Carrey contradicted the reported heroism, explaining, “It was a windy day, and the trees blew over on the backlot at Universal. I did turn and go, ‘Hey, look out!’ I was right on that. Somehow that turned into I saved everyone’s life on the set. I’ve saved so many, and yet that’s what gets printed.”
The Gag Reel Contains Some Classics
Watch Carrey and Freeman spontaneously dancing to cover for a missed cue, Carrey massacring an impromptu piano performance and Catherine Bell corpsing while Carell goes nuts.