From the people who brought you ‘30 Great Behind The Scenes Photos’ and ‘Another 30 Great Behind The Scenes Photos’ – yup, us! – comes a feature they’re calling ‘Son Of 30 Great Behind The Scenes Photos’. Read on for some rare glimpses at off-screen moments that feature some of our favourite acting / directing / producing folk. Some are spectacular, some are intimate, some have Gerard Butler is his Spartan skimpys. Enjoy.
Joel Coen checks in to see what condition Jeff Bridges is in on the set of The Big Lebowski. The trippy dream sequence, soundtracked by Kenny Rogers and dubbed ‘Gutterballs’, is the Coen brothers’ homage to Busby Berkeley’s 1930 song-and-dance special, Whoopee!, and plays like a really, really stoned Inception. Whoopee! was itself inspired by a Broadway musical and Ziegfeld touches abound, although it’s unlikely that The Dude knows this. Hey, the man’s got marmots on his mind.
Another one of the many anti-war films Hitler hated – presumably because he was so pro-war – All Quiet On The Western Front was shot in and around Los Angeles, with the trench scenes shot at the vast Irvine Ranch just south of the city. Universal’s mighty adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s Great War novel was a polyglot affair, with director Lewis Milestone, a Russian-born American, overseeing a cast of (mostly) Americans pretending to be German in California. If this cultural Babel fish looked a potentially risky venture on paper, it ended up being an enduring classic that reaped five-star reviews from just about everyone. Well, except the Nazis. They gave it two swastikas.
A great big oliphaunt of a film, D. W. Griffith’s epic folly was, in every sense, the biggest movie of all time. For one thing, Griffith succeeded where Spinal Tap failed and created a historical monolith to scale, although in this case Ancient Babylon rather than Stonehenge. Hugely expensive, the sets dwarfed nearby Sunset Avenue – note the size of figures in relation to the arch – and contributed to a budget that ended up crushing the studio behind it. Curiously the arch survived and can be found holding up part of the Hollywood And Highland mall. Don’t expect as many loincloths, though.
Another for the Hitler burn pile, Charlie Chaplin’s magnificent satire pitched him opposite his favourite leading lady, Paulette Goddard, as a humble Jewish barber who falls hard for his courageous fellow ghetto-dweller. The pair, whose marriage was falling apart during this period, continued to be a formidable on-screen pairing and Chaplin was rarely happier than when working with Goddard. Here they share a very public cuppa, as the man in the craft services wagon executes one of the sound era’s earliest photobombs.
A masterpiece of matte painting, among many other things, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger classic recreated its Himalayan vistas at Pinewood Studios in decidedly un-mountainous Buckinghamshire. The great Walter Percy Day and his team of painters transformed the backdrop from this nondescript field into the kind of jagged landscape of snow-capped peaks where yaks and snow leopards would be right at home. Powell praised his long-time collaborator as “the greatest trick-man and film wizard that I have ever known”, and any passing yak would surely have concurred.
Sergio Leone and Jason Robards, here packing six-shooters, got off to a rocky start on Once Upon A Time In The West. The actor turned up for the first day of shooting sozzled and unable to work, incurring the wrath of his director and a threat of firing hanging over any further pissedemeanours. Bar demanding a day’s pause to mourn the death of JFK in June 1968, Robards was impeccable, on and off camera, bringing all his roguish charm to the character of Cheyenne. He eventually gave the booze up altogether after a near-fatal car smash four years later.
“THIS... IS... erm, script notes?” Zack Snyder (the one in the sneakers) and Gerard Butler (the one in the war nappy) combined to sequel-spawning effect on 300, with a loincloth-clad cast of thespy beefcakes lending a hand – okay, bicep – in the hyper-modern telling of the ancient yarn. Sparta’s defenders included Butler (King Leonidas) leading Michael Fassbender (Stelios) and David Wenham (Dilios) in a choppy-maimy battle to the death with Xerxes’ colossal army. So that’s Magneto and Faramir versus all of Persia. Fiver on Magneto and Faramir, mister bookmaker.
James Cameron chats with Mark Rolston, Private Drake, in the belly of LV-426’s beast. The smartgun-wielding grunt makes it to the 74-minute mark before being redecorated in an interesting shade of acid. Like all the Colonial Marines, Rolston read Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and endured a gruelling SAS bootcamp to prep for the movie. “He told us all to decorate our gear, to bring our own individualities to each role,” remembers Rolston of the director. “I've never had that since. I asked for that scar!”.
Prosthetics pioneer Jack Pierce was charged with turning Boris Karloff into bolt-headed bruiser Frankenstein's monster in Universal’s 1931 monster hit, and again for the 1935 sequel. Famously cranky, Pierce got on well with Karloff. In the days before Kindles and iPods, four hours in the make-up chair could be an ordeal, but the actor collaborated closely with Pierce on the look. He removed a dental plate to give Fro-Mo’s face a caved-in appearance and had a false cranium coated with cotton, collodion and greasepaint. Not only was he scary, he was highly flammable.
Jeff Bridges, Dustin Hoffman and Neil Diamond were all linked with the part of New York cabbie Travis Bickle in the lead-up to Martin Scorsese’s bleak drama. Diamond recalled being asked to audition but claims he was considered for “a whole minute before they signed Robert De Niro”. Here the eventual Bickle and his director chat about the weather on a Manhattan streetside. Forecast? A real rain.
James Stewart and Grace Kelly riding an improvised dog chariot, Ben Hur-style, on the Paramount lot. The actors, dog-lovers each, became firm friends during the shoot, and it was Stewart who delivered the eulogy at the actress-turned-princess’s funeral in 1982. Amidst all the tenements and tension of Hitchcock’s movie, her character, Lisa Fremont, offers fiancé ‘Jeff’ Jeffries (Stewart) an improbably irresistible combination of seafood and sex appeal. He’s too busy looking out the window to notice.
“Right, so you’re snails and he’s more of a mussels guy. And neither of you likes whelks?” Stanley Kubrick, Laurence Olivier and Tony Curtis discuss one of the most controversial scenes in Spartacus – and Hays Code-era Hollywood. This old-school spectacular, replete with Thracian slaves, Silesian pirates and double-dealing Romans, smuggled some risqué cargo in its belly, not least in Marcus Licinius’s (Olivier) attempts to put his silky Latin moves on Curtis’s Antoninus. Of course, to the untrained ear they could be discussing an early version of Finding Nemo, but that’s not really what’s happening here. Subtext, see?
The late, great Chris Marker was present to record the shoot of Ran in a poetic fly-on-the-wall documentary he called simply ‘AK’. Akira Kurosawa, who updated King Lear to Sengoku-era Japan, here watches the film’s mesmeric centrepiece battle. It’s an assault on the castle of Lear figure, Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai), by an endless sea of enemy cavalry and bowmen that culminates in a literal and figurative inferno. If you want to see more of the master at work, the whole thing is up on YouTube.
Recalling his American Werewolf shoot in a Guardian interview, John Landis, seen here scaling Eros in Piccadilly Circus, described the production as a kind of tail-end Charlie for Britain’s moviemaking boom. “Warren Beatty was shooting Reds here [at the time]”, he said, “and there was also another little film in progress called Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Maggie Thatcher put a stake through the heart of [it].” Tax breaks were repealed and filmmakers driven away but London at least had Landis’s hilarious, riotous comedy-horror to show for it. “I put on a free screening of The Blues Brothers in Leicester Square and invited 300 members of the Metropolitan police,” he remembers. “They loved it - and, whaddaya know, suddenly I had permission to shoot in Piccadilly Circus.”
A rugged-up Julie Christie takes a snooze during filming on Zhivago’s Winter Palace sequences. David Lean had noted Christie’s work in two John Schlesinger films, Billy Liar and Darling, and overcame MGM’s objections to cast her as Lara Antipova, the heroine of Boris Pasternak’s novel. Casting arm-wrestles gave way to an arduous, complex shoot. Far from wintery, the Winter Palace was actually constructed in sultry Spain where marble dust and plastic snow offered a frosty veneer unshared by the sweaty thesps. Rather than cover the entire countryside with the faux snow, Lean, Christie and co. decamped to chillier Finland (seen here) for the long shots.
Batman danced with the devil to the tune of $411m in worldwide receipts, but no amount of pale moonlight could make memories of the movie less painful for its director. “I was sicker than I’ve ever been on a film set,” remembers Tim Burton of the Pinewood-shot monolith. “We started out with a great script everyone loved, but it got torn apart by all the ego and expectation.” Silhouetted in a smoky Gotham are Burton and his leading man, Michael Keaton, whose concern was to find credible on-screen means of keeping Bruce Wayne’s identity secret. “Tim immediately got that and started lighting in a certain way and using the angles on the suit”, he explains, “on that great mask, to create a distance, a literal distance and a distance in perception.” Clark Kent take note.
The Millennium Falcon’s complement, a space-travelling nuclear family in which the dog is basically in charge, take to a Lambda-class shuttle to breach the Imperial blockade and reach Endor, presumably having stowed away carry-on luggage and loose Ewoks. Endor itself had biblical provenance, named for a Canaanite city referenced in Joshua 17:11. “And lo", the verse doesn't read, "Endor’s small furry critters did boogaloo righteously until the dawn".
This snapshot speaks volumes for Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn’s often icy relationship on the set of Sabrina. “She was an amateur”, grumbled Bogey later, “who needed a dozen takes”. In truth, the angular Bogart nose was out of joint for most of the shoot. Never convinced he was right for the role of lovelorn industrialist Linus (and many would agree), uneasy with the frothy romantic-comedy tone and jealous of co-star William Holden’s easy bond with Billy Wilder and Hepburn, with whom the actor was having an affair, Bogart clashed irascibly with his director. The pair eventually made up with Wilder acclaiming his reluctant cast member’s performance. “[He was] better than he thought he was. He liked to play the hero, and in the end, he was.”
Another Billy Wilder film set, this time graced by Marilyn Monroe, that dress and the most famous air vent in movies. Monroe’s husband, Joe DiMaggio, was in a crowd of a thousand or so New Yorkers present in the early hours of September 15, 1954, on the corner of Lexington and 52nd Street to witness the scene. His reaction, great distaste at his wife’s perceived exhibitionism, contributed to the breakdown of their marriage later that year. Variety’s reviewer was equally dismissive, sniffing that Monroe was “baby-dollish”.
At the time the most expensive German movie ever made, Das Boot’s relied largely on a flotilla U-boat miniatures, one of which, ahem, resurfaced in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. This full-scale model of U-96, seen here slipping out of La Rochelle harbour, was just a hull covering an engine, like the kind of thing Arthur Daley might have sold the Kriegsmarine. Sure enough, it took the first opportunity to sink. Undeterred, Wolfgang Petersen’s crew just nailed it back together again.
Cool Hand Luke’s Paul Newman recovers from another hard day’s road-tarring and egg-munching on location in California. The Golden State, specifically the San Joaquin River delta, doubled up for the Deep South, with special moss flown in from Louisiana and a prison camp built from the ground up, complete with barracks, mess hall and dog kennels. Newman, whose brother worked as a production manager on the film, loved the shoot. As usual, he demonstrated enormous professionalism and a collaborative spirit that made firm friends of his co-stars. “You very seldom ran into [an A-lister] who was so much a master of what he did than Paul,” enthused George Kennedy. “He was everything you could ask for and more.”
The Channel 4 News team takes some counsel from Anchorman director Adam McKay. Note how Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Brick Tamland’s (Steve Carell) commitment to maintaining their news face doesn’t falter, even during resets. If things had worked out differently the team may have featured John C. Reilly (as Champ), Ben Stiller (Brian), not to mention Ed Harris as their ball-busting station chief, Ed Harken. Brick might have been Chris Parnell, but we doubt even 30 Rock’s Dr. Spaceman could have pooped a hammer.
Marvel’s first self-funded flick was a decade or so in the making and had pre-echoes of later instalments. The Mandarin, for instance, mooted as a possible big bad in early drafts, is Easter-egged via a Ten Rings banner in the Afghanistan cave scenes. Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. also turned to future Shellhead helmer Shane Black for script advice. “When Tony Stark comes back from captivity and calls a press conference”, says RDJ, “the speech he gives all came from Shane.”
Die Hard cinematographer Jan De Bont zooms in on Empire’s 12th greatest movie character of all time in a Nakatomi lift. ‘The Eyes from Eindhoven’, as literally no-one called him, went on to direct bomb-and-a-bus Bontbuster Speed and bomb-everywhere-else follow-up Speed 2: Cruise Control. John McTiernan hired the Dutchman on the strength of his work with Paul Verhoeven, intending to give Die Hard’s camera work ‘European’-style shooting that would focus on emotion rather than the sudden physical movement of the characters. Willis’s John McClane took care of the movement part. Much of the shooting, too.
Defying the whole we-are-not-alone thing, Steven Spielberg takes a moment on Close Encounters’ sound stage in one of the cavernous hangars at Alabama’s Brookley Air Force Base. Spielberg overhauled Paul Schrader’s original draft to such an extent that Schrader removed his name from the script, leaving the director with one of his two screenplay credits (A.I. is the other). Schrader’s drafts were called ‘Kingdom Come’ and ‘Pilgrim’. ‘The Third Kind’ of the eventual title stemmed from astromer J. Allen Hynek’s The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry and represented contact with extra-terrestrials. The fourth kind is the bit where they blow up The White House.
Zulu’s Jack Hawkins and actor-producer Stanley Baker take a well-earned break. Shot on location in South Africa, the crew based themselves on the banks of the Tugela River, 60 miles from the actual setting of a 1879 battle in which 150-odd British soldiers defeated about four bajillion Zulu warriors (give or take) at Rorke’s Drift. It was home for the arduous three-month shoot in which producer Baker and his cast ran afoul of local apartheid laws. Michael Caine remembered a police raid, prompted by an on-set spy, to arrest a crew member who had “gone a little more native than we all thought” with some local women. “I realised that apartheid was not a personal prejudice but a government-sponsored form of civil terrorism,” Caine wrote, vowing not to return until apartheid had been eradicated.
Forest Whitaker gets his Zen on with his copy of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s 1915 short story Rashomon. Of course, Jim Jarmusch wasn’t the first to take inspiration from the bleakly-told tale of theft and reprisal: Akira Kurosawa’s classic, an adaptation in the very loosest sense, got there first. Jarmusch, however, added a radical mix of other ingredients to the pot to create cinema’s first gangster-samurai-Western, including Hagakure: The Book Of The Samurai, John Boorman’s Point Blank, Mary Shelley, Don Quixote and the Wu-Tang Clan. MC Hammer missed the cut.
Steve McQueen was one famous dude by the time Bullitt rolled into San Francisco, so these kinds of crowds were an occupational hazard for Peter Yates and his crew. The city’s mayor, Joe Alioto, made a big noise around a (for then) rare visit to the city from a film crew, all but offering McQueen and co. the keys to the city to rev around to their heart’s content. An entire wing of San Francisco General Hospital was closed for filming and streets close down for three weeks while the centrepiece car chase was shot. As an interesting local footnote, McQueen based Frank Bullitt on San Fran homicide cop Dave Toschi, also the inspiration for ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan and later played by Mark Ruffalo in Zodiac.
Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix hide from leeches on a Stand By Me crane. “We all got on very well,” remember Feldman in a 2012 AV Club interview, belying stories that Kiefer Sutherland’s went a little, well, method with his bullying screen presence. “I happened to be the right age, and happened to be, uh overweight,” Jerry O'Connell told Empire of his role as chubby cherub Vern in Rob Reiner’s coming-of-age tale. “Vern was a little dopey, and when I went on the audition, I was so nervous I left my jacket behind, and I came back to get it and I was like, ‘I, yuh, I, yuh, forgot my jacket.’ Rob said later, ‘That was pretty much when you got the part.’”
Orson Welles asked Rita Hayworth to chop and bleach her trademark locks for The Lady From Shanghai. It was unpopular with fans, but was, Welles argued, integral to Hayworth’s reinvention as alluring, imperilled lady of leisure Elsa Bannister. The pair’s marriage was coming to an end, but their relationship was still far more cordial than Welles’ stormy dealings with studio head Harry Cohen. The Columbia boss was unhappy with Hayworth’s look in the movie and pushed the release back by a year, cutting it substantially in the process. Despite this, and the unusual inflections of Welles’ put-upon sailor – very much from the “to-be-sure-to-be-sure-it’s-a-Leprechaun!” school of Irish accents – the film turned out to be a noir gem.