Fight Club Trivia

(Total Trivia Entries: 130)

“This is it: ground zero.”

Did you know the character Tyler Durden appears several times before being properly introduced in the movie? To find out more trivia keep on reading.

Story           Casting            Screenplay & Production


Author of the Fight Club novel, Chuck Palahniuk, first came up with the idea for the novel after being beaten up on a camping trip when he complained to some nearby campers about the noise of their radio. When he returned to work, he was fascinated to find that nobody would mention or acknowledge his injuries, instead saying such commonplace things as “How was your weekend?” Palahniuk concluded that the reason people reacted this way was because if they asked him what had happened, a degree of personal interaction would be necessary, and his workmates simply didn’t care enough to connect with him on a personal level. It was his fascination with this societal ‘blocking’ which became the foundation for the novel.


According to Chuck Palahniuk, much of the specific content of the Fight Club novel (such as splicing single frames of pornography into family films, attending support groups for the terminally ill, erasing video tapes etc.) came from stories told him by friends, and from things his friends actually did. Whilst writing the novel, Palahniuk also interviewed numerous young white males in white-collar jobs, discovering that “the longing for fathers was a theme I heard a lot about. The resentment of lifestyle standards imposed by advertising was another.”


Chuck Palahniuk revealed that when he wrote the novel, he did not actually know that Tyler and the Narrator were the same person until he was two thirds of the way through writing the story, at which point he noticed that they acted together as one person and chose to finish the story as such.


Director, David Fincher, has said that Fight Club was a coming of age film, like The Graduate (1967) but for people in their 30s. He described the narrator as an “everyman”; the character is identified in the script as “Jack”, but left nameless in the film and credited as just the Narrator.


The Narrator cannot find happiness, so he travels on a path to enlightenment in which he must “kill” his parents, his god, and his teacher Tyler Durden.


The Narrator’s character walks through his apartment while visual effects identify his many IKEA possessions. David Fincher described the Narrator’s immersion, “It was just the idea of living in this fraudulent idea of happiness.”


Studio executives worried that Fight Club was going to be “sinister and seditious”, however, David Fincher sought to make it “funny and seditious” by including humor to temper the sinister element.


Edward Norton has said, “I feel that Fight Club really, in a way…probed into the despair and paralysis that people feel in the face of having inherited this value system out of advertising.”


Pitt has been quoted as saying “Fight Club is a metaphor for the need to push through the walls we put around ourselves and just go for it, so for the first time we can experience the pain.”


Norton has been quoted as saying “We decided early on that I would start to starve myself as the film went on, while Brad Pitt would lift and go to tanning beds; he would become more and more idealized as I wasted away.”



Norton believed that the fighting between the men strips away the “fear of pain” and “the reliance on material signifiers of their self-worth”, leaving them to experience something valuable.


During rehearsals, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton found out that they both hated the new Volkswagen Beetle with a passion, and for the scene where Tyler and the Narrator are hitting cars with baseball bats, Pitt and Norton insisted that one of the cars be a Beetle.


The Beetle was one of the primary symbols of 60s youth culture and freedom. However, the youth of the 60’s had become the corporate bosses of the 60’s, and had repackaged the symbol of their own youth, selling it to the youth of another generation as if it didn’t mean anything. Both Norton and Pitt felt that this kind of corporate selling out was exactly what the film was railing against, hence the inclusion of the car.


In the Fight Club DVD commentary Norton explains the reason he hates the Beetle; “It’s a perfect example of the Baby Boomer generation marketing its youth culture to us. As if our happiness is going to come by buying the symbol of their youth movement, even with the little flower holder in the plastic molding. It’s appalling to me. I hate it.”


Pitt is quoted on the DVD commentary as saying he has since had a change of heart about the new Beetle car.


Norton drew parallels between redemption in the film and redemption in The Graduate (1967), indicating that the protagonists of both films find a middle ground between two divisions of self.


Pitt explained the disharmony in the Fight Club story by quoting, “I think there’s a self-defense mechanism that keeps my generation from having any real honest connection or commitment with our true feelings. We’re rooting for ball teams, but we’re not getting in there to play. We’re so concerned with failure and success, like these two things are all that’s going to sum you up at the end.”


Fight Club purposely shapes an ambiguous message, the interpretation of which is left to the audience. David Fincher elaborated, “I love this idea that you can have fascism without offering any direction or solution. Isn’t the point of fascism to say, ‘This is the way we should be going’? But this movie couldn’t be further from offering any kind of solution.”



Casting            Story           Screenplay & Production


Producer Ross Bell met with actor Russell Crowe to discuss his candidacy for the role of Tyler Durden. Producer Art Linson, who joined the project late, met with another candidate, Brad Pitt. As Art Linson was the senior producer of the two, the studio sought to cast Pitt instead of Crowe. Bell has since said that he is glad Linson stepped in, as he can’t imagine anyone being as good in the role as Pitt proved to be.


The studio believed Fight Club would be more commercially successful with a major star so they signed Brad Pitt and offered him a $17.5 million salary.


For the role of the nameless narrator, the studio desired a “sexier marquee name” like Matt Damon to increase the film’s commercial prospects; it also considered Sean Penn. Fincher instead considered Edward Norton a candidate for the role, based on the actor’s performance in The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996).


Edward Norton and Brad Pitt prepared for their roles by taking lessons in boxing, taekwondo, grappling, and also studied hours of UFC programming. Additionally, they both took soap making classes from boutique company Auntie Godmother.



Although Edward Norton refused to smoke in Rounders (1998), his character played poker for cigarettes but did not smoke, he did agree to smoke for this film.


Edward Norton lost 17-20 pounds for this role after having to beef up tremendously for his role as a Neo-Nazi skinhead in American History X (1998). Norton achieved this form by running, taking vitamins and just ignoring the on-set catering.


Prior to principal photography, Brad Pitt voluntarily visited a dentist to have pieces of his front teeth chipped off so his character would not have perfect teeth. The pieces were restored after filming concluded.


For the role of Marla Singer, the filmmakers considered Courtney Love and Winona Ryder as candidates early on. The studio wanted to cast Reese Witherspoon, but David Fincher objected that Witherspoon was too young for the role. He chose to cast Helena Bonham Carter based on her performance in The Wings of the Dove (1997). In the end however, the decision was taken out of their hands when Witherspoon turned down the role as being “too dark”, and Bonham-Carter was cast.


According to Variety magazine, Sarah Michelle Gellar was also approached for the role of Marla Singer in Fight Club, but due to a locked contract with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997), she couldn’t get the part.


During the shooting of the film, Helena Bonham Carter insisted that her makeup artist (Julie Pearce) apply all of her eye makeup with her left hand, because Bonham-Carter felt that Marla was not a person who would be particularly skilled at (or concerned with) correctly applying makeup.



According to Helena Bonham Carter, she based her performance of Marla Singer on Judy Garland in the later stages of her life. To help her get into the mindset, director David Fincher would often call her Judy on-set.


Helena Bonham Carter wore platform shoes to help close up the disparity in height between her and Edward Norton and Brad Pitt.


Prior to filming, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter considered visiting real support groups for the terminally ill, but they decided against it, as due to the satiric nature of the film, they didn’t feel it was appropriate.


Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth’s sister, Christie Cronenweth appears in the film as the airline check-in attendant who tells the Narrator he is three hours early for his flight.


Kevin Scott Mack, the Digital Domain visual effects supervisor, makes a cameo appearance as the terrified guy with glasses in the plane crash scene.


Edward Kowalczyk, member of the band Live, plays the waiter who serves the Narrator and Marla with the line, “Sir, anything you want is free of charge, sir.”



Screenplay & Production           Casting            Story


Fox 2000 Pictures executive Raymond Bongiovanni, who died shortly before the project was green-lit, first discovered the Fight Club novel before it was officially published. Prior to his death, Bongiovanni worked tirelessly to get the project off the ground, and in his obituary, it said that his last wish was that the novel be made into a film.


Raymond Bongiovanni sent the novel to Laura Ziskin, President of Production at Fox 2000 Pictures. She felt it was a tremendous piece of literature, but not necessarily a great movie. The book was sent to a 20th century Fox studio reader to evaluate it’s potential as a possible film, and the report sent back to Ziskin slammed the novel, saying it could never be made into a film, that it was “exceedingly disturbing”, “volatile and dangerous”, and would “make audiences squirm”. Despite this however, Ziskin decided to go ahead with the project temporarily and began to look around for producers who might be willing to take it on.


This project was first offered to producers, Lawrence Bender and Art Linson, but they turned it down (although Linson would ultimately return as producer). Next, it was offered to Joshua Donen and Ross Grayson Bell of Atman Entertainment. They both loved it and immediately agreed to produce it. Bell has since stated that the highly critical report from the studio reader was all he needed to make him want to work on the film, feeling every reason that the reader gave for why the film couldn’t be made, was another reason to make it.


Producers, Joshua Donen and Ross Grayson Bell, organized a read-through of the book with some actors, who performed a roughly scripted version of the novel over the course of a six-hour session, and he sent recordings of the session to the still wavering Laura Ziskin. As soon as Ziskin heard the recording, she agreed that a film adaptation could work, purchased the rights to the novel for $10,000, and green-lit the project.


Author Chuck Palahniuk told the producers from the very start that, although he fully supported the adaptation, he wasn’t interested in writing the screenplay. Initially, producer Laura Ziskin considered hiring screenwriter Buck Henry to adapt the novel, due to the many thematic similarities between and The Graduate (1967), which had been adapted from the novel of the same name by Henry. However, Jim Uhls was ultimately chosen as the writer ahead of Henry.


Screenwriter Jim Uhls started working on an early draft of the adapted Fight Club screenplay, which excluded a voice-over because the industry perceived at the time that the technique was “hackneyed and trite”.


Three directors were offered the Fight Club prior to David Fincher. Peter Jackson was the initial choice of producers Joshua Donen and Ross Grayson Bell, who had been impressed with Jackson’s work on Heavenly Creatures (1994) and The Frighteners (1996). Jackson however, although he loved the Chuck Palahniuk novel, was too busy prepping The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) in New Zealand. The second choice for director was Bryan Singer, who was sent the book, but who never got back to the producers, he later admitted he didn’t read the novel when he received it. Next to be offered the job was British director Danny Boyle, who met with Donen and Bell, read the book, and loved the material, but who ultimately decided to concentrate on The Beach (2000) instead. The producers then turned to David Fincher, who was in post-production on The Game (1997). Donen and Bell had been impressed with Fincher’s work on Se7en (1995), and thought he could bring something unique to the project. However, Fincher was reluctant to work with 20th Century Fox again after his negative experiences making Alien³ (1992), so a meeting was set up between Donen, Bell, Fincher, President of Production at Fox 2000 Pictures Laura Ziskin and 20th Century Fox studio head Bill Mechanic, where Fincher’s relationship with the studio was restored, and he was hired to direct the film.


When David Fincher joined to direct the film, he thought that the film should have a voice-over, believing that the film’s humor came from the narrator’s voice. He described the film without a voice-over as seemingly “sad and pathetic”. So David Fincher and Jim Uhls revised the script for six to seven months and by 1997 had a third draft that re-ordered the story and left out several major elements.


Brad Pitt was concerned that his character, Tyler Durden, was too one-dimensional so David Fincher sought the advice of writer-director Cameron Crowe, who suggested giving the character more ambiguity. David Fincher also hired screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker for assistance. David Fincher invited Brad Pitt and Edward Norton to help revise the script, and the group drafted five revisions in the course of a year.



Author, Chuck Palahniuk, praised the faithful film adaptation of his novel and applauded how the film’s plot was more streamlined than the book’s. Palahniuk recalled how the writers debated if film audiences would believe the plot twist from the novel. David Fincher supported including the plot twist, arguing, “If they accept everything up to this point, they’ll accept the plot twist. If they’re still in the theater, they’ll stay with it.”


Author, Chuck Palahniuk named Tyler Durden after the character of Toby Tyler in Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus (1960), and a man called Durden with whom Palahniuk worked, who was fired for sexual harassment. Marla Singer was named after a young girl called Marla who used to beat up Palahniuk’s sister in school.


The Narrator finds redemption at the end of the film by rejecting Tyler Durden’s dialectic, a path that diverged from the novel’s ending in which the Narrator is placed in a mental institution.


David Fincher considered the Fight Club novel too infatuated with Tyler Durden and changed the ending to move away from him: “I wanted people to love Tyler, but I also wanted them to be OK with his vanquishing.”


Much confusion exists about the Narrator’s name as it is never mentioned throughout the movie. Many believe it’s Jack due to his use of the phrase “I am Jack’s…”, but others argue that he only uses the name Jack because that was the name he saw in magazine “Annotated Reader”. Interestingly, in the press packages released for the movie, which came in the form of an IKEA-esque catalog, the character is referred to as Jack, as he is on the back of the DVD, and in the booklet accompanying the DVD, where the Chapter list is referred to as “Jack’s Chapters”. Also, the original screenplay by Jim Uhls refers to him as Jack. On the other hand, in the closed captions for the film, he is referred to as Rupert.


Studio executives Mechanic and Ziskin planned an initial budget of $23 million to finance Fight Club, but by the start of production, the budget was increased to $50 million. Half was paid by New Regency, but during filming, the projected budget escalated to $67 million.


Filming lasted 138 days, with over 300 scenes shot on 200 locations and 72 sets constructed by production designer Alex McDowell. David Fincher shot more than 1,500 rolls of film, more than three times the usual amount for a 120 minute film.


The locations were in and around Los Angeles and on sets built at the studio in Century City. Production designer Alex McDowell constructed more than 70 sets.


Fight Club was filmed mostly at night and David Fincher purposely filmed the daytime shots in shadowed locations. The crew equipped the bar’s basement with inexpensive work lamps to create a background glow.


In conjunction with director David Fincher, first time director of photography Jeff Cronenweth decided to shoot the film using spherical lenses instead of the more common anamorphic lenses. This was primarily because many scenes where to be shot on practical locations using practical lighting, which wouldn’t provide enough luminosity for an anamorphic lens to capture the image (anamorphic lenses require more light that spherical lenses for correct exposure). The disadvantage of shooting with spherical lenses is that the negative has to be blown up for the extraction process (unlike an anamorphic negative), meaning that the final print has a grainier texture than that shot using anamorphic. However, both Fincher and Cronenweth felt that this extra grain actually suited the tone of the film, and no attempts were made to clean it up or reduce it in the post-production process.


When the film stock was processed, several techniques were applied to alter the look of the footage and increase the ‘grubbiness’ of the image. Under the supervision of director David Fincher and director of photography Jeff Cronenweth, the contrast was stretched, the print was underexposed, re-silvering was used to increase density, and high-contrast print stocks were stepped on the print to create a layer of ‘dirt’, which Fincher likens to a “dirty patina.”


Director David Fincher initially wanted to include a single frame flash of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) during the 20th Century Fox logo, but the studio’s legal department wouldn’t clear him to do so. He then tried to include the image during the Regency Enterprises logo, but Arnon Milchan (President of Regency) also wouldn’t allow him.


The scenes with Tyler Durden were staged to conceal that the character was a mental projection of the nameless narrator. The character was not filmed in two shots with a group of people, nor was he shown in any over the shoulder shots in scenes where Tyler gives the narrator specific ideas to manipulate him. In scenes before the Narrator meets Tyler, the filmmakers inserted Tyler’s presence in single frames for subliminal effect. Tyler appears in the background and out of focus, like a “little devil on the shoulder”. David Fincher explained the subliminal frames: “Our hero is creating Tyler Durden in his own mind, so at this point he exists only on the periphery of the narrator’s consciousness.”


The film’s title sequence is a pullback from the fear center of the Narrator’s brain, and is supposed to represent the thought processes initiated by the Narrator’s fear impulse. The 90-second sequence was conceived by director David Fincher and budgeted separately from the rest of the film. The studio told Fincher that they would only finance the elaborate sequence if the film itself was any good. After seeing a rough cut, they decided they were happy and so the sequence went ahead. The CG brain was mapped using an L-system, with renderings by medical illustrator Kathryn Jones, and was designed by Kevin Scott Mack of Digital Domain.


The reverse-tracking shot out of the trash can, which was an elaborate digitally animated sequence, was the very last shot to be added to the film. It required so much processing time that it almost had to be spliced in “wet”, i.e. fresh from the lab, so that the film could be duplicated on schedule. Due to the amount of reflective surfaces in the shot, it took almost 8 hours to render a single frame. The entire shot took 3 weeks to render.


Tyler Durden appears several times before he’s actually introduced. In the first four appearances, he flashes on screen for a single frame (1/24 of a second):

1. When the Narrator is by the photocopying machine, near the beginning of the film, we suddenly see a single frame flash of Tyler.

2. In the corridor outside the doctor’s office, when the Narrator learns about the Testicular Cancer support group, Tyler appears for a single frame in the background.

3. During the scene when the Narrator is at the Testicular Cancer support group meeting, Tyler makes another single frame appearance.

4. When the Narrator sees Marla leaving a meeting, he watches her walking down an alleyway when Tyler makes his final single frame appearance.

5. At the airport, the Narrator says “Could you wake up as a different person?” and the camera briefly follows Tyler.



The Narrator works at Federated Motor Corporation, in the Compliance and Liability division. FMC is located at 39210 North Pennfield Boulevard in Bradford, the state is not specified.


In the scene where the Narrator is sitting on a toilet, with his pants down while reading an IKEA catalog, Edward Norton is actually completely nude from the waist down. Norton talks about it on the DVD commentary to which David Fincher says “really?” Norton then says “Did you notice I never had to go to the bathroom that day?”



The interior layout of the Narrator’s apartment was based upon an apartment which director David Fincher lived in when he first moved to LA. Fincher decided to model the location on this apartment because he claims that whilst he was living there, he always wanted to blow it up.


Apparently during the shooting of the first group scene, where Thomas (David Andrews) talks about his wife getting pregnant with another man, an extra became so offended by the subject matter that he stormed off set, refusing to be paid.


Meat Loaf, who plays Bob Paulson, who has “bitch tits”, wore a 90-pound (40 kg) fat harness that gave him large breasts for the role. He also wore eight-inch (20 cm) lifts in his scenes with Norton to be taller than him.



Makeup artist Rob Bottin had to build two different fat suits for Meat Loaf – one with nipples, one without – because the filmmakers weren’t sure if 20th Century Fox would approve the suit with the prominent nipples.




Total Trivia Entries: 130



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