Movies devoted to alcohol seemingly fall into one of two categories: you have depressing dramas like Leaving Las Vegas, and then you have your goofy comedies such as Beerfest or The World’s End. Sideways, a movie about two 40-something men drinking and fornicating their way through wine country managed to be both. I loved Sideways when it came out 10 years ago, it’s equal parts road trip movie, buddy comedy, and romantic drama skewering California wine country with director Alexander Payne’s dark humor.
The 2004 indie film would go on to be nominated for five Oscar’s — winning for “best adapted screenplay” — and invigorate the tourism industry in California’s wine country. To look back at the movie on its 10 year anniversary, here are a few facts about its impact on the wine industry and its connection to one of the biggest murder cases of the 20th century.
1. Miles’ mother’s cooking was terrible. The dinner that Miles, Jack, and Miles’ mother shared together went over without a hitch — well, except for Miles stealing from her — but the aftermath wasn’t pretty. The food they ate gave all three actors food poisoning.
2. Jack’s soon to be in-laws were neighbors of O.J. Simpson. Before hitting the road, Jack and Miles say goodbye to Christine and her parents who just happen to live across the street from the home that belonged to O.J. Simpson at the time of the infamous Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman murder. We don’t see the Simpson house in the film, but it’s directly across the street from Christine’s parents’ house.
3. Thomas Haden Church wore his birthday suit to the audition. During Church’s audition the actor stripped down to the nude, because that’s what the script called for. After Church won the part he was told that he was the only actor who auditioned that had the balls to do that.
4. George Clooney was rejected for being too popular. Clooney wanted to play the part of Jack, but the film’s director, Alexander Payne, thought he was too big of a star to play the character.
5. The movie boosted sales of Pino Noir, but did nothing for Merlot. Miles’ passion for Pino Noir helped give the wine a major boost for the holiday season, bumping up sales 20 percent over Christmas and New Years in 2004 — Merlot sales dropped. The restaurant in the movie, The Hitching Pos,t became a tourist destination for those visiting the Santa Ynez Valley and immediately reported a sales spike of 30 percent.
6. The actors drank a wine substitute that made them sick. Thomas Haden Church said that most of what they drank was a cheap grape juice that was so sugary it made him sick from drinking too much.
“It’s like they make it and then they extract the alcohol. It’s really terrible. But the grape juice, it’s such a high sugary content it starts giving you gastro-intestinal fits and then you’re asking for anything else.”