The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Trivia(Total Trivia Entries: 53)
“You never know what’s comin’ for you.”
In the 90’s the project was then attached to Tom Cruise to star as the lead. To find out more trivia keep on reading.
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.
- The 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, respectively.
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 (2006), with Julia Ormond in Legends of the Fall (1994) and with Tilda Swinton in Burn After Reading (2008). Pitt also appeared with Jason Flemyng in Snatch (2000).
Shiloh 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 Jessica Cropper.
The rights of the short story was first bought by producer Ray Stark, back in the 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 banner.
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 List.
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 partner.
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 Roth.
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 film.
In July 2005, David Fincher negotiated a deal with the studios to direct Benjamin Button and Zodiac (2007) back-to-back, with Zodiac being produced first.
The 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 2006.
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 live-action performances.
Overall production was finished in September 2007.
The 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.
The look that David Fincher, visual-effects supervisor Eric Barba and special makeup-effects artist Greg Cannom devised for Benjamin as a child 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 Hunger (1983) is shown researching and discussing the disease.
Six of the seven “struck by lightning” stories told by Mr Daws (actor Ted Manson) are shown in black and white.
There 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 (2006).
When Benjamin is seen reading a novel on “The Chelsea”, a picture from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “Winter Dreams” is clearly seen.
The 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 (1982).
The 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.
Director 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.
The 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 (2007). 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.
Julia 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.
Benjamin Button is the second Hollywood feature film, after Denzel Washington’s Deja Vu (2006), to film in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The 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 May 2008.
Apparently Danny Boyle [Director of Slumdog Millionaire (2008)] pushed his current project, Solomon Grundy (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:
Still want more trivia? Then visit the official movie website.
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