by: David Fincher
Eric Roth (screenplay and screen story)
Robin Swicord (screen story)
F. Scott Fitzgerald (short story)
Cate Blanchett - Daisy
Brad Pitt - Benjamin Button
Tilda Swinton - Elizabeth Abbott
Julia Ormond - Caroline
Taraji P. Henson - Queenie
Jason Flemyng - Thomas Button
Edith Ivey - Mrs. Maple
Jared Harris - Captain Mike
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali - Tizzy
Patrick Thomas O'Brien - Dr. Rose
- Ngunda Oti
'You never know what's comin' for you.'
Do you want to know which directors were linked to thismovie? Then keep
find out the answers.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's short
story was based on a remark by author Mark Twain. Twain famously
remarked that 'the best part of life was from the beginning and the
worst part was the end'.
The completed screenplay differs from F. Scott Fitzgerald's
original short story in numerous ways:
The short story is set in
Baltimore, not New Orleans, where
Benjamin is born in 1860 at the start of the Civil War.
In the short story, the baby is born speaking like an adult
and with a long white beard.
Benjamin Button is born in a hospital in the short story,
not at home, and is 70 years old, not 85.
He is not deserted by his father at a home for the elderly,
but is cared for by Mr. Button and encouraged to go to college.
In the short story Benjamin mentally ages
backward, not forward.
character of Daisy was named Hildegarde Moncrief in the short story.
The name change is likely a nod to the female lead in Fitzgerald's
best-known work, The
Great Gatsby (1974).
In the late 70's,when the short story was first bought,
Jack Nicholson was considered for the role of Benjamin Button.
In the mid-80's, when the film rights were first bought,
Martin short was considered for the role of Benjamin Button.
In the 90's the project was
then attached to Tom Cruise to star as the lead.
In 1998 John Travolta was set to star as the lead when Ron
Howard was attached to direct the movie.
Rachel Weisz was considered for the role of Daisy,
but she turned it
down because of scheduling conflicts with the different filming dates
of the movie.
In May 2005, actors Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett entered
negotiations to star in the film as Benjamin Button and Daisy,
|Brad Pitt has
stated that it took 5 hours each day to complete the make-up required
for the role.
In September 2006, actors Tilda Swinton, Jason Flemyng, and
Taraji P. Henson entered negotiations to be cast into the film.
In October 2006, with production yet to begin, actress
Julia Ormond was cast as Daisy's daughter.
Brad Pitt has appeared with Cate Blanchett in Babel
with Julia Ormond in Legends
of the Fall
(1994) and with Tilda Swinton in Burn After Reading
Pitt also appeared with Jason Flemyng in Snatch
Jolie Pitt (Brad Pitt's daughter) has a cameo in this movie as baby
Caroline, who Julia Ormand plays as the adult character.
The principal dancer for teenage and adult Daisy was
rights of the short story was first bought by producer Ray Stark, back
late 70s, with Jack Nicholson to star as Benjamin.
Ray Stark then bought the film rights in the
mid-1980s, and it was optioned by Universal Pictures. The first choice
to direct Benjamin Button was Frank Oz, with Martin Short attached for
the title role, but Oz couldn't work out how to make the story work.
Other directors attached to the project in the
mid-80's were Patrick Read Johnson and Agnieszka Holland.
Producer, Richard Stark eventually sold the rights to Steven Spielberg
and producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall under the Amblin
The film was then optioned in 1991 by
Steven Spielberg to direct, with Tom Cruise attached for the lead role.
But, Spielberg left the project to direct Jurassic Park and Schindler's
When Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall started their own
production company, they also took the rights of the movie along and
only started developing the movie in 1994. They took the film to
Paramount Pictures, with Universal Pictures still on as a co-production
In October 1998, screenwriter Robin Swicord wrote for
director Ron Howard an adapted screenplay of the short story,
a project which would potentially star actor John Travolta.
In May 2000, Paramount Pictures hired screenwriter Jim
Taylor to adapt a screenplay from the short story. The studio also
attached director Spike Jonze to helm the project.
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman had also written a draft of
the adapted screenplay at one point.
In June 2003, director Gary Ross entered final negotiations
to helm the project based on a new draft penned by screenwriter Eric
David Fincher was made aware of the script when his agent
brought it to
his attention as he was the former assistant of producer Richard Stark.
Fincher admitted that he never read the original short
story, he only read the 240-page script that Eric Roth wrote.
In May 2004, Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount
Pictures joined to co-finance the project. In the same month, director
David Fincher entered negotiations to replace Ross in directing the
In July 2005, David Fincher negotiated a deal with the
studios to direct Benjamin
(2007) back-to-back, with Zodiac being produced first.
original setting for the film was to be Baltimore, the city of the
short story the movie is based on. David Fincher and Eric Roth changed
the location to New Orleans, Louisiana and the surrounding areas when
the studio requested they film there
to take advantage of the state's filming discount.
Shooting of Benjamin Button was slated to begin in October
Principal photography was targeted to last a total of 150
days, excluding the time it would take to create the visual effects for
the metamorphosis of Brad Pitt's character to the infant stage.
In March 2007, production moved to Los Angeles for two more
months of filming.
David Fincher used a camera system called Contour,
developed by Steve Perlman, to capture facial deformation data from
Overall production was finished in September 2007.
hummingbird is the only bird in the world that can fly backwards. All
hurricanes spin counter-clockwise. These, among other "backward" motifs
involving clocks and so on, tie in with the major thematic elements
related to Benjamin Button living life in reverse.
look that David Fincher, visual-effects supervisor Eric Barba and
makeup-effects artist Greg Cannom devised for Benjamin as a
resemble the later stages of progeria, a condition technically named
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, a rare disease that makes its
young sufferers appear aged. Those who didn't attend medical school may
be most familiar with it from the Ralph Macchio TV movie The Three Wishes of Billy Grier
(1984). Robin Williams had a fictional version of progeria in Jack
(1996) and the
Susan Sarandon character in The
(1983) is shown researching and discussing the
Six of the seven "struck by lightning" stories told by Mr
Daws (actor Ted Manson) are shown in black and white.
really was a pygmy man housed in a monkey house. Ota Benga was trapped
from the Congo in 1904, and kept on display in a monkey house in the
Bronx Zoo. His teeth were chiseled, and he used to shoot arrows at
onlookers. In 1906, they released him, realizing they had been
"inhumane," and he was placed in an orphanage until 1910 when he was
relocated to Virginia. He received formal education before starting
work at a tobacco factory, and he began to plan his return to the
Congo. With the outbreak of WWI his plans seemed impossible and he
became depressed and killed himself in 1916. Ota Benga also serves as a
character in The Fall
Benjamin is seen reading a novel on "The Chelsea", a picture from F.
Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Winter Dreams" is clearly seen.
musical in which Daisy performs and that Benjamin watches is Richard
Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's 'Carousel' . The performance is the
dream ballet choreographed by Agnes de Mille. Daisy was talking to
Benjamin about Agnes de Mille in their previous meeting in New Orleans
when they went out for a meal.
The exterior of Benjamin's
father's house that he sells is the same house 591 Esplanade Ave, New
Orleans, Louisiana, that is the exterior of the Gallier House in the
movie Cat People
The name of Benjamin's sailboat is Button Up.
silver-blue motorcycle ridden by Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is a 650cc
Triumph T110, recognizable as a 1956 model because of it's alloy head
and 4-bar tank badge.
Daisy reveals her age (in 1967) as 43 which means she was
born in 1924.
Tarsem Singh was enlisted to shoot the brief handheld montage of
Benjamin backpacking through India and Cambodia, after David Fincher
learned that Tarsem and Brad Pitt were both already planning to be in
Southeast Asia at the same time.
motorcycle that Benjamin rides in India is a 350cc Royal Enfield
Bullet, a British-designed motorcycle originally made under license in
Chennai (Madras), India since 1955.
Benjamin Button was shot using Viper Thomson digital
cameras, also used in David Fincher's previous movie, Zodiac
However, the close-ups and the hospital scenes were shot in the Sony
F-23 cameras, as Fincher noted that the fan built inside the Viper
cameras create too much noise that interferes with the dialog.
Ormond filmed her scenes last, which was two weeks before end of
shooting. During that period, Cate Blanchett had to undergo 4 hours of
daily makeup to play a near-dead Daisy. She could only lie on the
hospital bed for a short period of time due to excessive heat generated
by studio lights and the blankets.
The movie props were donated to the victims of Hurricane
Katrina in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
is the second Hollywood feature film, after Denzel
Washington's Deja Vu
(2006), to film in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
filmmakers worked closely with Levi's to obtain clothing items from
their Levi's Vintage Clothing collection to authenticate various time
periods captured throughout the film.
The release of Benjamin Button was originally slated for a
Apparently Danny Boyle [Director of Slumdog
(2008)] pushed his current project, Solomon
(2011), back because he thought the story of Benjamin Button and
"Solomon Grundy" were too similar.
Benjamin Button is David Fincher's first PG-13 rated film.
Here's some behind the scenes footage showing the technology
used to transform Brad Pitt into Benjamin Button:
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