Like Schindler's List And The Coen Brothers? You Can Thank The Evil Dead For That
It's not exactly controversial to say that the Coen Brothers are two of the most influential and iconic directors of this era. We also probably won't get any hate mail for praising Liam Neeson's performance in Schindler's List, or really any of his subsequent roles. What will sound insane, however, is that all of these things are of direct result of the 1981 horror film The Evil Dead. You know, the one where a woman gets fucked by trees before turning into a Kandarian basement demon.
New Line Cinema
It's a lot funnier than it sounds, I promise.
It was on this film that a young Joel Coen was working as an assistant editor while trying to make his debut with a script he co-wrote with his brother. While there, director Sam Raimi convinced the Coens to shoot a fake trailer for their script, which subsequently led to them finding investors for the movie -- eventually called Blood Simple. You might recognize this as the pivotal moment leading to decades of amazing films like The Big Lebowski, No Country For Old Men, The Hudsucker Proxy, and certainly not Garfield (common mistake).
Meanwhile, while casting Blood Simple, the brothers went to see a play called Crimes Of The Heart. It featured Holly Hunter, who they immediately wanted to cast... but couldn't, for scheduling reasons. However, Hunter went home from the audition and mentioned the film to her roommate: Frances McDormand. Frances, of course, would go on to kick ass in the role, marry Joel Coen, and play one of the most badass baby-ovens to ever point a gun at Peter Stormare.
And it gets weirder. Because while Holly didn't get the role in Blood Simple, she would later move into a Silverlake home with both Coen brothers, McDormand, and Raimi -- who at the time was writing Evil Dead II on the porch. Cut to a few years later, and a young actor named Bill Paxton got a phone call from his friend James Cameron asking if he had heard of Evil Dead II. When Paxton said no, Mr. Titanic rushed him to a local showing, as any loyal friend would. After falling in love with Raimi's slapstick horror style, B-Pax auditioned for the director's follow-up, Darkman. You with us so far?
According to Paxton (who later worked with Raimi on A Simple Plan), while he got super close to landing the role, he "made the mistake" of informing another friend about the movie as well. It was Liam Neeson.
Who has always looked precisely 45, no matter the decade.
Neeson got the role and killed it as the titular rubber-faced rage goon in Darkman, which was then seen by a stage actress named Natasha Richardson. At the time, Richardson was putting together a production of Anna Christie, and thanks to Darkman, she pursued Neeson to play a role. Not only would his performance in the show end in a marriage with Richardson, but it would grab the attention of a director in the audience... who at the time was casting an upcoming film called Schindler's Fucking List.
See? Even in the '40s.
YEP. Liam Neeson's entire career exploded because Bill Paxton was dragged to a screening of Evil Dead II and fell in love. Consider this yet another reason he's going to be deeply missed. RIP, you ultimate badass.
David is an editor and columnist for Cracked. Please direct all your goddamn "hellos" to his Twitter account.
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