Movies fill us with wonder, inspire us, and allow us to put faces on our greatest fears and dreams alike. But between all that shit, I wonder which cast member has been ripping the most farts. And which cast member the other cast members suspect has been ripping the most farts.
I know I'm not alone. We know so much more about how movies are made than ever before. We know how they make the alien planets of Star Wars (they tell a computer to do it) and how they make Patrick Stewart look decades younger than he is (recast him with James McAvoy.) But there are still plenty of simpler questions that have yet to be answered. For instance ...
If I haven't brushed my teeth in a few hours and I come within a two feet of someone's nose, I feel like I've physically assaulted their nostrils. Bad breath is just something everybody has to deal with. But when the story dictates that you and your costar kiss or have each other's faces so close that it can only accurately be measured in atoms stacked end-to-end, whether your breath smells of a fresh wonderland or fetid feet seems pretty important. Whenever I see actors so close that it seems like they're trying to punch each other with their eyelashes, I'm trying to figure out if they're so good at their job that they can hold back the violent fits of dry heaves they'd rather be doing at that moment.
A dentist to the stars once revealed that he gets a lot of A-list talent in his chair looking for halitosis remedies, since so many actors are heavy drinkers and smokers. Johnny Depp fits that bill. According to Angelina Jolie, she had to constantly tell Depp to use mouthwash on the set of The Tourist, since a common side effect of chain smoking is a spontaneous inversion of mouth and anus. Jennifer Aniston has been said to have breath that repulses any actor who has to taste her mouth for work. And Hugh Grant supposedly has breath so bad that it's one of the things he's become known for, along with his charming English stammer and his love of prostitutes.
Here's one from back in the Golden Age of Hollywood: Vivien Leigh was disgusted by the stench wafting from Clark Gable's mouth whenever she had to kiss him in Gone With The Wind. At only 32, a gum infection led to Gable having most of his teeth replaced with dentures, which he must've cleaned with formaldehyde. So next time you're watching Gone With The Wind, which will likely be never, know that whenever Leigh was less than a foot away from the handsome Gable, she would rather have been killed by Union soldiers.
And of course, there's the sub-category of actors who give themselves bad breath on purpose to mess with their costars, like how Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence would eat garlic or tuna before onscreen kisses during the filming of the Hunger Games movies, because movie sets are just so much fun, you guys! Actors eat awful stuff to mess with you, and you just have to sit there and keep pretending! So great! Excuse me for a minute, as I have to go vomit on the sidewalk.
It always seemed so cool as a kid, wearing all that complicated makeup and costuming. It must be a childhood dream come true for any actor who gets the chance to play a monster or an alien in a movie, in what might be the most expensive form of make-believe possible.
And then I grew up and realized that sitting around waiting for a shot to get set up while sweating your nipples off and unable to scratch your nose without ruining the seven hours of makeup stuck to your head sounds like something that should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. What's incredible is that a single Google search immediately fires up dozens and dozens of pages of celebrities describing their makeup horror stories in the same way that I would describe being trapped at the bottom of a well.
John Rhys Davies doesn't have as fond a memory of working on the Lord Of The Rings movies as the rest of the Fellowship. While the others had to wear, at most, a pair of awkward floppy prosthetic feet or fake pointy ears, Davies was in a full facial prosthetic held on with glue he was allergic to. Those movies took around three years to shoot, and Davies was in pain every single day he was on set. Gimli might have been a grumpy character, but the man who played him hated living in Middle-earth more than any crotchety dwarf ever could.
In Legend, Tim Curry played the Lord of Darkness, ostensibly the devil, showcasing one of the most impressive monster makeup effects in movie history. But as you'd suspect after a quick look at him, the huge fiberglass horns on his head messed up his neck and back. One night, while performing his ritual of soaking in a bath for an hour to loosen the prosthetic glue, Curry lost his patience and started ripping off the prosthetics, taking chunks of his own skin with it.
A small price to pay for a highly fuckable devil.
Producers brought in a CIA torture expert to teach Jim Carrey techniques on how to endure the hell of his eight-and-a-half-hour transformation into the Grinch. As if seeing the Grinch in real life wasn't terrifying enough, imagine the Grinch chain-smoking and punching his own legs while demanding that people randomly hit him across the head. He described the makeup application as "being buried alive every day."
We're still waiting to hear about how torturous it was for Mike Myers to sit through the makeup process for The Cat In The Hat. Has anyone heard from Michael? Anyone?
On one hand, I realize that many porn actors have reached down deep inside of themselves and found the will to maintain erections while a bunch of bored crew members look on. I can respect that. But for every non-porn kind of actor, it would seem like an audience would be a boner deterrent. It's like pee shyness taken to its most nightmarish extreme. And that's good, right? Sex scene or not, this is neither the time nor the place for your raging hard-on to make an appearance. On the other hand, erections can be uncontrollable bodily reactions that can only be combated by running away while apologizing profusely to everyone in sight.
That's pretty much what Henry Cavill did on the set of The Tudors when he got hard during a sex scene. "It's not great when you're in a professional acting environment and somebody gets a boner, is it?" Acting is one of the only professions on Earth in which a boner is not welcomed but is understood, given a specific set of circumstances -- that being two people intentionally giving each other blue balls.
While I'd imagine it's a painfully awkward experience for most actors, there is one performer I came across in my research who could probably make the full transition into porn if he wasn't also one of the people whose name continuously came up in my research for actors with bad breath. Hugh Grant once said, "I've always enjoyed sex scenes, though you're not really supposed to. The classic answer is, 'Oh, it's not sexy at all because there are so many technicians standing around.' But I've always found them extremely arousing." A sound guy in cargo shorts and a Chicago Cubs hat looming over Grant with a ten-foot pole as he pretend-plows an actress who'd rather be anywhere else on the face of the Earth than in that room in that moment really gets his balls swelled with anticipation.
Where Grant is living up to his reputation as a man who will fuck anyone, anywhere, anytime, Cavill is echoing a sex scene mantra that male actors from Tom Hanks to Ashton Kutcher to Samuel L. Jackson and possibly even as far back as Sir Laurence Olivier have for years been saying to their partners before cameras roll: "I apologize if I get aroused, and I apologize if I don't."
It's a clever phrase, and it does cover both ends of the spectrum of male insecurity in the midst of a sex scene, but it also assumes that a scene partner will be hurt if the guy they're dry humping in front of a crew that just wants to break for lunch doesn't get aroused on the job. I don't want to speak for the actor being ground with a cock-socked penis that may or may not be flaccid, but I think they'll somehow find the strength to move on from the pain brought on by the absence of a boner.
The Transatlantic accent is that voice we all recognize as a part of our pop culture subconscious, even if we've never seen a movie from the time period it's from. It's the voice basically everyone used in every movie from the 1930s, 1940s, and even into the 1950s. It was somehow vaguely British AND vaguely American, combining elements of both to create an accent that sounded like nobody on Earth. R's were dropped almost entirely, turning "darling" into "dawling." T's, especially if they were at the end of a word, were given waaay too much emphasis at the expense of all the letters that came before them, turning "water" into "woah-tah."
It was the only way actors spoke -- and then it vanished, like an entire species wiped out in an instant by an asteroid. It pops up every now and again, but only as a reference to days gone by, like the voice Elizabeth Banks used in the Hunger Games movies, or in Mark Hamill's version of the Joker. But where did this phenomenon come from, and why is it that one day, we woke up and it was gone, stealing our money and watch when it absconded into the night?
The Transatlantic accent is fake. It's like when your friend comes back from a couple of weeks in England sounding like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. It was a cornerstone of Edith Skinner's Speak With Distinction, a textbook teaching aspiring actors how to speak clearly on stage. And it didn't just live on the screen; it was encountered in real life, though not nearly as often as every other American accent. It was taught to kids throughout the Northeastern United States as an international version of English, so that they could better sound like an inbred aristocratic snob every time they asked "fathah" if they could take the Rolls-Royce for a spin around the slums that evening.
Still, the accent's exact origins aren't entirely known. One theory suggests it was developed to better fit the tinny tones of old radios, which couldn't produce bass without blowing out their speakers. While there's no one person or story to point to for its origin, we can point to one group of people for popularizing it: America's aristocratic elite. The accent gained prominence in a time when America was prosperous and the influence of the very rich held sway. That changed after World War II.
The death of Hitler pretty much coincides with the death of the Transatlantic accent. The middle class was growing and American aristocracy was starting to lose its shine. There was a national desire to see common, middle-class speech patterns reflected in movies. The Transatlantic accent, which was very obviously fake, had finally begun to sound fake to people.
It's impossible. I need to know. I need to know the scene, the way it happened. Then I try to figure out if I'm watching the actor or a body double. Is it the actor just a few days before they died, or are they already dead and their stand-in is wearing the clothes of a dead person? It's terrible, and I just can't stop thinking about it.
This kind of "fun" morbidity has the same effect on me as looking at old people with cheeks so droopy that it gives them basset hound eyes -- it's too repellent to ponder for too long without falling into a depression. The obsessive creep factor has led to the creation of a list of movies I can't ever watch again, which is probably for the best, since most are dogshit anyway.
The Crow is a movie I watched, I'll say, ten times before learning its star was killed during filming in a freakish gun accident. My 11th and final viewing was spent examining each frame like Kevin Costner looking over the Zapruder Film for evidence of a second shooter in JFK. Turns out the tragic mid-scene death of an actor during the production of a film was not included in the final cut. Seems like a real lost opportunity.
The Twilight Zone movie is probably the most famous example of the bunch. Actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were famously killed during a horrific accident, which was made all the more terrible when it was discovered that director John Landis ran what might be one of the most dangerous, most morally bankrupt movie sets ever.
But none of them trigger my morbid fascination with on-set death quite as thoroughly as The Adventures Of Milo And Otis, the live-action kids movie about a dog and a cat who get into a series of scrapes and have to find their way back home. It's was probably really cute when you were four, but it gets remarkably less cute when you hear that pesky, unproven (but extremely prevalent) rumor that up to 30 Milos and Otises were killed during production, and one kitten may have had its paw purposefully broken for one shot, and oh my god, if that's true, the movie is a cinematic pet cemetery. The rumors were never proven, so we may never know for sure just how many animals may or may not have been killed to make 1986's 14th most forgettable movie.
But here's one unsettling bit of trivia to leave you with: You know how movies with animals in them will say "No animals were harmed during the making of this film?" The Adventures Of Milo And Otis has that, but its wording is a little ... off. It says: "The animals used were filmed under strict supervision with the utmost care for their safety and well-being."
I'm not saying they're lying. What I'm saying is, if you asked me if I killed 30 dogs and cats to make a shitty kids movie and I didn't want you to know, I think I'd say something along the lines of "Well, we did try our best." And then I'd run as fast as I possibly could away from you. Like, I-just-popped-a-boner-on-set fast.
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