‘Birdman’s Ties To ‘Batman’ And Other Things You Might Not Know About The 2015 Best Picture Nominees

02.21.15 4 years ago 14 Comments
We’ve all gotten over The LEGO Movie being snubbed by the Academy by now, right? Good. There’s a lot of competition in the “Best Picture” category of this year’s Oscars. Is the Academy going to hand out the award to the patriotic film, the civil rights film, the biopic, the film that took way longer to shoot than the other films, or the Michael Keaton film? My money’s on Birdman. No, wait — American Sniper or, maybe Boyhood. No, definitely Birdman.

There will certainly be much more to talk come Monday morning. In the meantime though, here are a few nuggets of trivia you might not know about this year’s nominees.

American Sniper

Bradley Cooper went into beast mode for training. Playing the part of Chris Kyle not only meant perfecting his West Texas accent and training with Navy SEAL sniper Kevin Lacz, but bulking up to Kyle’s physique as well. The actor put on nearly 40 pounds of muscle by eating a 6,000 calorie a day diet and working out for up to four hours several days a week. By the time filming began, Cooper could deadlift 425 pounds — something that he did on camera, despite filmmakers advising he use dummy weights.

Bradley Cooper wanted Chris Pratt to play the lead. Bradley Cooper first learned about Chris Kyle’s story in 2011 through a friend, and after negotiating with Warner Bros. it was decided that his newly formed production company, 22nd & Indiana, would produce the movie. Cooper didn’t envision himself as the lead, however, and told The Hollywood Reporter that when he first met with Chris Kyle about the project he had a different actor in mind.

“At that time, I didn’t really think, honestly, that I was right to play Chris, but it was the only way that I was gonna get the movie produced. Chris Pratt was the guy in my mind — always — to play him. But I didn’t tell anybody that!”

Yeah, Burt Macklin was nearly in American Sniper.

Whiplash

Miles Teller didn’t joke around with his drumming. Teller wasn’t a stranger to the drum kit before signing on for the movie, and had been playing since he was 15. To refine his stick skills, Nate Lang gave Teller four hour-long lessons in jazz drumming three days a week prior to filming. During certain scenes, the director wouldn’t yell cut and allow Teller to keep drumming until he had exhausted himself. This resulted in the actor developing blisters that would leave blood on the sticks and drum heads.

J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller got a little violent. In a scene that had Miles Teller tackling J.K. Simmons, Teller sacked the actor so hard that Simmons suffered two cracked ribs. For the slapping scene, Teller and Simmons first practiced only miming a slap, but decided to go for authenticity and lay down a real five fingers to the face slap for the take that made it into the movie. Simmons told Esquire, that wasn’t something he had a problem doing.

“Fletcher was fun to play,” he says. “All that anger, it felt good to get it out. Even if it did involve slapping Miles Teller repeatedly. But seriously, who doesn’t want to slap a 27-year-old movie star?”

Boyhood

Richard Linklater had a backup plan in case of death. Linklater tapped into his longtime collaborator, Ethan Hawke, to play the character of Mason Sr. because they had both grown up children of divorce with Texas fathers who worked in the insurance business. He also knew that he could count on the actor in case tragedy struck him while directing. He and Hawke an agreement that if he died over the 12-year course of shooting the movie Ethan Hawke would take over as director to complete the film.

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Richard Linklater’s daughter asked to be killed off. Linklater cast his daughter, Lorelei Linklater, because as a child she was always singing and asking to be in one of his movies. The director explained that casting her nearly backfired when she became tired of the project and asked to be killed off.

“About year three or four, the Harry Potter years, she requested I kill her off. I said, ‘Nah, that’s just too dramatic. This film, it’s not that dramatic. No, you can’t quit.’ And as she got older, she realized she was getting paid a little every year. What teenager can’t use that SAG minimum? I was like, ‘That’s actually a lot of money. Thank you, union.’ Then she’s like, ‘When are we shooting?’ Not that she wanted to work hard.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The entire cast and crew stayed in the hotel that inspired the Grand Budapest. Wes Anderson explained that the city of Budapest was too large, that he wanted a “spa town” and Görlitz, a small town in eastern Germany had everything he needed, including an abandoned shopping center that was used to create the elaborate interior of the Grand Budapest. The entire cast and film crew stayed in the Hotel Börse, which was used as inspiration for the Grand Budapest’s exterior shots.

The Republic of Zubrowka takes its name from a brand of vodka. Anderson took the name for his fictional location from a Polish brand of vodka called Zubrowka. While the Republic of Zubrowka may not be an actual place, Anderson told NPR, that Görlitz was the perfect spot for the imaginary place.

“Half of it is in Germany and the other half is in Poland. It’s on the border and it’s about 20 minutes from [the] Czech Republic, so in a way it’s really right where our story would be if there was such a place.”

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