What I wouldn’t give to see the version of La La Land set in Boston.
Director Julie Taymor sat next to Sir Paul McCartney the first time he watched Across the Universe, and during the “All My Loving” sequence, he started singing along under his breath. At the end of the screening, Taymor asked if there was anything he didn’t like, to which McCartney responded, “What’s not to like?”
During the “96,000” number from the film adaptation of In the Heights, Benny sings, “Tiger Woods and I on the links, and he’s my caddie!” The original lyric from the Broadway musical was, “Donald Trump and I on the links, and he’s my caddie!” Lin-Manuel Miranda explained that when he wrote the musical, Trump was “an avatar for the Monopoly man,” but his transformation into a “stain on American democracy” necessitated changing the wording.
Martin Charnin, the creator and director of Annie, the Broadway musical, absolutely hated Annie, the movie. He said the film “distorted” his musical, with Miss Hannigan turned into a “man-crazy drunk” and Annie herself “cute-ed up.”
Costume designer Michael Kaplan invited Nadja Swarovski to watch a number in Burlesque where all the dancers were dressed in outfits made from gold chains and Swarovski crystals. She loved it so much that she invited Kaplan to design a jewelry line for Swarovski.
Every single member of the Cats cast went to “cat school,” which entailed a few hours each day of learning about “basic cat anatomy and movement training.” Movement director Sarah Dowling and a hairless sphinx cat named Paname oversaw the lessons. Taylor Swift only had to attend for a week since, in Dowling’s words, she’s “a natural cat.”
Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) gave Stockard Channing (Rizzo) a real hickey during their “on-camera makeout sessions.”
Zendaya performed many of her own stunts in The Greatest Showman, and she didn’t even use a safety net. Of course, this necessitated some pretty intense acrobatic training, which co-star Zac Efron also had to undergo.
John Waters made cameo appearances in both the original 1988 film Hairspray and the 2007 adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical. In the former, he plays Dr. Frederickson, and in the latter, he appears as “the flasher that lives next door” during the “Good Morning Baltimore” sequence.
Bart Johnson (Coach Bolton) told Seventeen that he and Alyson Reed (Ms. Darbus) were supposed to have a duet in High School Musical but that the number (supposedly similar to “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” from Annie Get Your Gun) was cut due to time constraints.
After she turned 40, Meryl Streep was offered three witch roles in one year, prompting her to implement a “no witches” rule for herself. She didn’t break it until she was 65 and played the Witch in the 2014 adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
Fittingly for the Harvard-educated Damien Chazelle, La La Land was originally set in Boston, with the Griffith Observatory sequence taking place in the Boston Museum of Science.
Anne Hathaway actually got her hair cut on camera in Les Misérables, though only half of it was done by actor Nicola Sloane, who played the “hair crone.” The task was finished by Hathaway’s hair and makeup artist Paul Gooch, who donned the crone’s costume for the occasion.
The extravagant necklace the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) gives Satine (Nicole Kidman) in Moulin Rouge! was designed by jeweler Stefano Canturi and constructed with 1,308 diamonds. The piece, nicknamed “Satine,” was worth $1 million during filming, making it the most expensive piece of jewelry ever made for a film. It is now worth around $3 million.
Julie Andrews declined to make a cameo appearance in Mary Poppins Returns since she didn’t want to divert attention away from star Emily Blunt, though director Rob Marshall assured Entertainment Weekly that Andrews was “one thousand percent” supportive of the sequel.
Peter Hinwood was a professional model when he was cast as the titular creation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and he stopped acting afterward for three reasons: “One, I can’t act. Two, I cringe with embarrassment every time I see myself on film. Three, I relish a quiet, peaceful life.” He became an antiques dealer in London instead.
In The Sound of Music, the von Trapp family makes a dramatic escape over the Alps to safety in Switzerland. However, in real life, that route would’ve led directly into Nazi Germany, so the actual von Trapps escaped in a slightly less cinematic manner: Boarding a train to Italy and claiming they were simply going on a family vacation.
Catherine Zeta-Jones insisted on having her hair cut in a bob for Chicago, explaining, “If you think I’m going to have long hair over my face so anyone is going to think that I’m being doubled and not doing every darn step, you’re crazy.”
After seeing the costume jewelry that she was supposed to wear as the Queen in Cinderella, Whoopi Goldberg told costume designer Ellen Mirojnick to go talk to a contact she had at Harry Winston and pick out “the real stuff,” since she wouldn’t wear fake jewels.
When Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein started working on what would become West Side Story, it was called East Side Story and its plot followed a Jewish girl falling in love with a Roman Catholic boy. They ultimately rejected this premise for being too stale.
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