15 Surprising Facts About There Will Be Blood

Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment

Family, greed, religion, madness, and milkshakes came together in unexpected and jarring ways in There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling tale of a wealthy oilman named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) who uses his cunning and charm to convince a small California town to let him drill their land for oil in the early 1900s. His manipulation tactics work on all but one member of the community: Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a young preacher who proves to be a surprisingly deft opponent for Plainview.

On the 10th anniversary of the movie’s release, we went behind the scenes of the epic Oscar-winner to dig up 15 fascinating facts about its making.

1. IT’S ONLY PARTIALLY BASED ON UPTON SINCLAIR’S OIL!.

Though even the credits note that the film is based on Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, the novel served as more of a starting point for Paul Thomas Anderson, who adapted it for the screen.

“[W]ith There Will Be Blood, I didn't even really feel like I was adapting a book,” Anderson told The A.V. Club. “I was just desperate to find stuff to write. I can remember the way that my desk looked, with so many different scraps of paper and books about the oil industry in the early 20th century, mixed in with pieces of other scripts that I'd written. Everything was coming from so many different sources. But the book was a great stepping-stone. It was so cohesive, the way Upton Sinclair wrote about that period, and his experiences around the oil fields and these independent oilmen. That said, the book is so long that it's only the first couple hundred pages that we ended up using, because there is a certain point where he strays really far from what the original story is. We were really unfaithful to the book.”

2. PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON AND DANIEL DAY-LEWIS WERE FANS OF EACH OTHER’S WORK.

While producer JoAnne Sellar has said that There Would Be Blood may never have even happened if Daniel Day-Lewis had declined the role, Day-Lewis said that he was excited simply at the prospect of working with Anderson, as he was a fan of the director’s work.

“Initially, it’s all about the script,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon. “But in [Anderson’s] case, I certainly knew his films and already admired him a great deal. And most particularly for his recent film Punch-Drunk Love. So even the very idea of working with him when the word came was something I was intrigued by. Nonetheless, had I read that script and not felt drawn into the world that he’d created, out of respect for him I’d have said: ‘Get somebody else, because I can’t help you here.’ But I was very drawn to the idea of working with him.”

3. DANIEL PLAINVIEW'S DARKNESS WAS PART OF WHAT ATTRACTED DAY-LEWIS TO THE CHARACTER.

Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood'
Paramount Home Entertainment

Day-Lewis isn’t known for playing happy-go-lucky types and admitted that it was the darkness within the character of Daniel Plainview that further attracted him to the part.

“I daresay, because the unconscious plays such an important part in the work, the imagination being on the front line of that ... what could be more liberating than to explore with impunity the darker recesses of one's imagination and psyche?" Day-Lewis told NPR. "I suppose that has always appealed to me, and I always am most often intrigued by lives that seem very far removed from my own. [With] Plainview, [it] wasn't the violence of the man or the misanthrope of the man that attracted me particularly, but just that unknown life in its entirety."

4. ANDERSON FOUND INSPIRATION IN THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.

It’s been widely reported that Anderson watched John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre every night before filming began on There Will Be Blood, but the director told Filmmaker Magazine that while the amount of times he watched the film before production “has gotten completely exaggerated,” he did find inspiration in the film.

“What was nice about that movie was that it's kind of a play wrapped up in the clothes of an adventure film,” Anderson said. “It's essentially a dialogue, a dynamic between these three guys. [The film's] traditional straightforward storytelling was what I was influenced by, and it was something that seemed to apply when trying to make a big story on a limited budget.”

5. DAY-LEWIS DID NOT BASE PLAINVIEW’S MANNERISMS ON JOHN HUSTON.

Another part of the There Will Be Blood/The Treasure of the Sierra Madre connection that seems to have been exaggerated is that Day-Lewis based the mannerisms of his character on John Huston, who wrote and directed the 1948 film and made a small cameo in it.

“A few people have asked me if I modeled [Daniel’s] voice on John Huston,” Day-Lewis told Time Out. “I didn’t. But I did listen to some tapes of Huston’s voice, among others. And there was something about the vigor of Huston’s language that appealed to me.”

6. DAY-LEWIS PUT A LOT OF THOUGHT INTO WHAT PLAINVIEW’S HAT SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Dillon Freasier in There Will Be Blood (2007)
Paramount Home Entertainment

In an interview with The Washington Post, costume designer Mark Bridges explained that hats were extremely important to both the character of Daniel Plainview, and Day-Lewis for finding the character. “Leading up to the first time we see that hat, his hats kind of echo or inform what’s going on with his career and life,” Bridges said.

“Daniel Day-Lewis felt the hats were very important to his character,” Bridges continued. “There were three choices that were all good, and he took them and lived with them for days. He sort of creates mini worlds, and so he took them, just took them for a spin, so to speak, and settled on that one as what he felt most comfortable with and most represented in his mind the character he was creating. And it took on a kind of magic where he would be Daniel Day-Lewis, but you knew he was Daniel Plainview once the hat went on. So that was very rewarding to me.”

One more thing about that hat: “The sweat stains are real,” Bridges admitted. “It was worn day in and day out and has been much loved by all who’ve come in contact with it.”

7. PAUL AND ELI SUNDAY WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE TWINS.

In the film, Paul Dano plays twins Paul and Eli Sunday, but the brothers weren’t written as twins. Dano was originally cast in the smaller role of Paul Sunday, who visits Plainview to tell him about the oil under his family’s property in Little Boston, California. Another actor, Kel O'Neill, was cast as Eli and spent several weeks shooting before Anderson decided it just wasn’t working. As all of O’Neill’s scenes would need to be reshot, Anderson approached Dano about taking on the role—leaving him with just four days to prepare. (Dano received a BAFTA nomination for his work.)

Though rumors swirled that O’Neill departed the project because he was intimidated by Day-Lewis, all of the parties in question have gone on record to state that this was not the case.

“Filmmaking is so alchemical that sometimes certain factors don’t add up,” O’Neill told Vulture. “Some directors I’ve worked with—who very few people would say are better directors than Paul—just had a way of making me feel comfortable. For some reason, even though every other actor I know had a relationship with Paul that was super positive and where they did their best work, that just didn’t happen with me. I would attribute that primarily to a failure on my side: An actor should, with every ounce of their humanity, be attempting to give the director what he or she wants. And I recall going in and out on whether I could really do that.”

“It’s the only occasion in my life that, during the course of a piece of work, we had to re-cast and re-shoot stuff which I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon. “Paul [Dano] was already contracted to play the part of Paul, and we’d all considered him for Eli already, so it seemed like an obvious choice … He came out on a Friday evening and we were shooting scenes on Monday with him. And I swear to God on set that day he was a recognizable, fully formed character. I dare say he was slightly unsettled in himself, but you wouldn’t have guessed it. He was just right there.”

8. PAUL DANO DIDN’T ALWAYS KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DAY-LEWIS.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano in 'There Will Be Blood'
Miramax

When asked about what it was like to work opposite Day-Lewis in such an intense, antagonistic way, Dano told Collider that there were “definitely some moments where, you know, I was going, ‘Holy s**t.’ … Because we didn’t really rehearse and so sometimes, I didn’t know how big something that was going to come out of him was going to be, because he’s so powerful. And I don’t really want to say specific instances. I think you can probably imagine hearing some of the lines from that ending scene on the page but then, you know, the real deal is just a whole [other] level.”

9. DILLON FREASIER, WHO PLAYED HW, HAD NEVER ACTED BEFORE.

Anderson and his team had a bit of trouble casting the role of HW, Plainfield’s son. Though they looked at a number of professional child actors, Anderson realized that “we needed a boy from Texas who knew how to shoot shotguns and live in that world.”

So casting director Cassandra Kulukundis contacted a number of schools around Marfa, Texas, where they were shooting, and asked for their help. According to the Los Angeles Times, Kulukundis was asking for "a child who didn't play with GameBoys but worked outside," while Anderson described the ideal actor as "a man in a young boy's body."

One of the boys recommended to Kulukundis was Dillon Freasier, whom she met, did some improv with, and was impressed by. “[H]e just stayed in my mind, so I called [his mother] at home and asked if it was all right if I could come over that night," Kulukundis explained.

That same day, while heading to another school to meet with some additional kids, she got lost and was running late and driving at triple the speed limit. That’s when she got pulled over by a state trooper, who looked down at her license and said: "I think you're coming to my home tonight." The officer was Dillon’s mom, Regina. (Who let Kulukundis off with a warning.)

10. FREASIER’S MOM WAS NERVOUS ABOUT LETTING HER SON WORK WITH DAY-LEWIS.

While things clearly worked out well for Dillon Freasier, even after that little traffic stop incident, his mom wasn’t very familiar with Day-Lewis’s work. Before agreeing to let her son spend so much time with a man she knew nothing about, she decided to watch one of his films.

“Dillon’s mom thought she’d go and rent a movie with that fella Daniel Day-Lewis,” the three-time Oscar winner told The Mercury News. “So she went and got Gangs of New York and was absolutely appalled. She thought she was releasing her dear child into the hands of this monster. So there was a flurry of phone calls and someone sent her The Age of Innocence and apparently that did the trick.”

When Day-Lewis won a Best Actor Oscar for his work in There Will Be Blood, he thanked his young co-star in his speech. But Freasier missed it; he was already asleep.

11. THE FAKE OIL WAS MADE FROM THE SAME LIQUID MCDONALD’S USES IN ITS MILKSHAKES.

Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood'
Miramax

When discussing the production design for the film with Entertainment Weekly, Anderson explained how they had to build an 80-foot oil derrick and fill it with fake oil. The recipe for that oil, according to Anderson, included “the stuff they put in chocolate milkshakes at McDonald’s.”

12. A PYROTECHNIC TEST PROVED PROBLEMATIC FOR THE COEN BROTHERS.

When awards season rolled around, There Will Be Blood and the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men went head-to-head for a number of the year’s biggest accolades. Oddly, the two films also ended up shooting in the remote and tiny town of Marfa, Texas at the same time. But Anderson ended up creating a bit of a problem for the Coens. While conducting a pyrotechnic test, Anderson and his team accidentally created a billow of smoke so large that it could be seen by the Coens’ cameras, leading them to have to cancel shooting for the day.

13. BEYOND READING, DAY-LEWIS DIDN’T DO MUCH PREP.

While Day-Lewis is known for going to some pretty far lengths to prepare for his roles, his prep for There Will Be Blood mainly consisted of reading. “I read the book [Oil!]. The first 150 pages or so introduce you to the world of the oilfields at that time, and there's a lot of great detail about the world of the drillers and the prospectors,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon.

As for any special preparations he made to play such a devilish character, the actor admitted that he didn’t really have to do much. “I don’t know what that says about me, I wish I could say there was some monstrous … well, there are a couple of monstrous members of the family that I suppose I could have modeled him on, but in this case I didn’t. There was no model.”

14. NO, DAY-LEWIS DID NOT BUILD AN OIL RIG IN HIS BACKYARD.

Ever the Method actor, many outlets reported that to prepare for his role, Day-Lewis actually built his very own oil rig. Those stories were false. “It was rumored apparently that I’d built a derrick in a field behind my house in County Wicklow,” Day-Lewis told IndieLondon, “and I must say when I read that I thought: ‘That’s not a bad idea, I might try that!’ But we were a bit short on help at the time. Considering the way that I work very often, I do feel I’ve been soundly misrepresented so many times that there’s almost no point in even talking about it, but people tend to focus on the details of the preparation, the practical details in this clinic or that prison and so on and so forth … But for me as much as that work is a vital part of it and always fuel to one’s fascination, one’s curiosity, the principal work is always in the imagination. That’s where it’s going to happen if it’s going to happen anywhere at all.”

15. IT’S ANDERSON’S MOST PROFITABLE MOVIE.

Though Anderson’s latest film, Phantom Thread, is getting stellar reviews, There Will Be Blood remains the six-time Oscar nominee’s most profitable movie, with an estimated $40.2 million gross. It’s a far cry from the $26.4 million that his second most profitable movie, Boogie Nights, made.

11 Fascinating Facts About Mad Max

Mel Gibson stars in George Miller's Mad Max (1979).
Mel Gibson stars in George Miller's Mad Max (1979).
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

What began as director George Miller's ambitious action film about a solitary cop (Mel Gibson) on a mission to take down a violent biker gang has evolved into a post-apocalyptic sensory overload of a franchise that now has four films to its credit—Mad Max (1979), The Road Warrior (1981), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)—and additional sequels in the works. So let's obsess over Miller’s masterpieces even more with these 11 things you might not know about the franchise.

1. Director George Miller worked as a doctor to raise money for Mad Max.

Mel Gibson in Mad Max (1979)
Mel Gibson in Mad Max (1979).
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Since the film only had a budget of $350,000, Miller scraped together extra money as an emergency room doctor to keep the movie going. “It was very low budget and we ran out of money for editing and post-production, so I spent a year editing the film by myself in our kitchen, while Byron Kennedy did the sound,” Miller told CraveOnline. “And then working as an emergency doctor on the weekends to earn money to keep going. I’d got my best friend, and friends of friends of friends of his, and Byron ditto, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, we made a film and it won’t cut together and we’re going to lose all their money.’”

Miller’s medical training is all over the film: Max Rockatansky is named after physician Carl von Rokitansky, a pathologist who created the Rokitansky procedure, a method for removing organs in an autopsy.

2. Mel Gibson went to the Mad Max audition to accompany his friend, not for the part.

Gibson was black and blue after a recent brawl with “half a rugby team” when his friend asked him to drop him off at his Mad Max audition. Because the agency was also casting “freaks,” they took pictures of Gibson, who was simply waiting around, and asked him to come back when he healed. When he did, Miller gave him the role on the spot. In a clip for Scream Factory, Gibson recalled the moment: “It was real weird. [Miller] said, ‘Can you memorize this?’ and it was like two pages of dialogue with a big speech and stuff. I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ I went into the other room and just got a gist of what it was and I came out and just ad-libbed what I could remember. I guess they bought it.”

3. George Miller paid Mad Max crew members in beer.

With barely enough money to finish the original film, Miller offered to pay ambulance drivers, a tractor driver, and some of the bikers on set with “slabs” (Australian for a case of 24 cans) of beer, according to The Guardian.

4. Real-life motorcycle club the Vigilanties played Toecutter’s gang for Mad Max.

Forget the money required to train stuntmen; Miller and crew hired real bikers to professionally ride into production. In an interview with Motorcyclist Online, actor Tim Burns said about working with them: “[The Vigilanties] all wanted to ride the bikes as fast as possible, as often as possible, by their nature. Their riding was individually and collectively superb.” Additionally, stuntman Dale Bensch, a member of The Vigilanties, recalled seeing the ad for the shoot at a local bike shop, and took a moment to clarify a mishap that had happened during production. Bensch said, “There’s an urban myth that a stuntman was killed, and that was me. The scariest thing was dropping the bike on that bridge. They took the speedo and tach off because they didn’t want to damage more than they had to. They wet the surface to make it easier, but I hung onto the bike too long and it flipped me over with it; that’s why it looked bad. But it’s a famous scene, so it worked out all right!”

5. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior was inspired by the oil crises of the 1970s.

During an interview with The Daily Beast, Miller discussed the making of The Road Warrior. Of its inspiration, he said, “I’d lived in a very lovely and sedate city in Melbourne, and during OPEC and the extreme oil crisis—where the only people who could get any gas were emergency workers, firemen, hospital staff, and police—it took 10 days in this really peaceful city for the first shot to be fired, so I thought, ‘What if this happened over 10 years?’”

6. Mel Gibson only had 16 lines of dialogue in The Road Warrior.

Upon Fury Road’s release in 2015, social media lit up with complaints that Tom Hardy was underutilized, only there to grunt and utter a couple of one-liners. But just to remind you, in Mad Max 2, Mel Gibson only has 16 lines of dialogue in The Road Warrior.

On his use of sparse dialogue, Miller told The New York Times, “Hitchcock had this wonderful saying: ‘I try to make films where they don’t have to read the subtitles in Japan.’ And that was what I tried to do in Mad Max 1, and I’m still trying to do that three decades later with Fury Road.”

7. Mel Gibson says The Road Warrior is his favorite movie in the original trilogy.

Once upon a time Mel Gibson enthusiastically spoke about Beyond Thunderdome, telling Rolling Stone, "[The films are] a sort of cinematic equivalent to rock music. It's something to do with the nihilistic sentiments of the music of the ’80s—which can't continue. I say, let's get back to romanticism. And this film [Thunderdome] is actually doing that. It's using that nihilism as a vehicle, I think, to get back to romance.”

Years later, he told Playboy what he really thought of the films, namely that The Road Warrior was his favorite. “It still holds up because it’s so basic,” Gibson said. “It’s about energy—it didn’t spare anyone: people flying under wheels, a girl gets it, a dog gets it, everybody gets it. It was the first Mad Max, but done better. The third one didn’t work at all.”

8. Beyond Thunderdome was inspired by Lord Of The Flies.

Mel Gibson and Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).
Mel Gibson and Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).
Warner Home Video

Even though Miller and his producers were on the fence about a third Mad Max, they couldn’t help but give in. "George was sitting and talking to me about … quantum mechanics, I think," Miller’s co-writer Terry Hayes recalled to Rolling Stone. "The theory of the oscillating universe. You could say he's got a broad range of interests. And I said something about ‘Well, if there was ever a Mad Max III ...' And he said, 'Well, if there was ...'"

In a 1985 interview with Time Out, Miller recalled the story himself. “We were talking one day and Terry Hayes started talking about mythology and how where people are short on knowledge, they tend to be very big on belief. In other words, they take a few fragments of knowledge and, if you take like the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, they just take simple empirical information and using those little bits of the jigsaw construct very elaborate mythological beliefs, which explain the whole universe,” Miller said. “Terry was saying if you had a tribe of kids after the apocalypse who had only a few fragments of knowledge, [they would construct] a mythological belief as to what was before. And what would happen if Max or someone like that [came in] ... and it kicked off the idea of kids who were Lord of the Flies-type kids, and that led to this story.”

9. Tina Turner was cast in Beyond Thunderdome because of her positive persona.

According to Rolling Stone, Tina Turner beat out Jane Fonda and Lindsay Wagner for the role of Aunty Entity. On her casting, Miller told Time Out, “One of the main reasons we cast Tina Turner is that she’s perceived as being a fairly positive persona. You don’t think of Tina Turner as someone dark. You think of the core of Tina Turner being basically a positive thing. And that’s what we wanted. We felt that she might be more tragic in that sense. But more importantly [when] we actually wrote the character, as a shorthand way of describing the character we said someone ‘like Tina Turner’—without even thinking of casting her. We wanted a woman ... we wanted someone who had a lot of power, charisma, someone who would hold a place like that together—or build it in the first place. And we wanted someone who was a survivor.”

10. Mad Max characters’ names hint at their backstories.

One of the most peculiar quirks of Miller’s franchise has to be his bizarre character names. In an interview with Fandango, Miller explained exactly how he comes up with them: “One of the things is that everything in the story has to have some sort of underlying backstory. Not just every character, but every vehicle, every weapon, every costume—and the same with the language. So [the concept] was always found objects, repurposed. Immortan Joe is a slight adjustment to the word 'immortal.' The character Nux says 'mcfeasting' instead of using the word 'feasting,’” Miller explained, adding that his favorite name of all is Fury Road’s The Dag (played by Abbey Lee). “In Australia, the dag is sort of a goofball-type.”

11. George Miller is a proud feminist.

Director George Miller, recipient of the Feature Film Nomination Plaque for “Mad Max: Fury Road," poses in the press room during the 68th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on February 6, 2016 in Los Angeles
George Miller poses with the Feature Film Nomination Plaque for Mad Max: Fury Road during the 68th annual Directors Guild Of America Awards in 2016.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Perhaps evidenced by Charlize Theron’s scene-stealing role as Imperator Furiosa, Miller is a proud, outspoken feminist. He told Vanity Fair, “I’ve gone from being very male dominant to being surrounded by magnificent women. I can’t help but be a feminist.” That female influence even stretched behind the scenes, with Miller asking his wife Margaret Sixel to edit Fury Road. “I said, ‘You have to edit this movie, because it won’t look like every other action movie,” Miller recalled. Moreover, feminist activist Eve Ensler also consulted on the film to offer, according to Ensler herself, “perspective on violence against women around the world, particularly in war zones.”

What Happens During a Jeopardy! Commercial Break?

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek chats with the show's contestants.
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek chats with the show's contestants.
Getty Images Entertainment

Jennifer Quail:

Typical Break One: First, if there are "pickups" (re-recordings where Alex misspoke or coughed or stuttered, or Johnny mispronounced someone’s name or hometown) to record, they do those. A stagehand brings water bottles for the contestants. The production team who wrangles contestants comes over and gives their pep talk, makes any corrections, like if someone is consistently buzzing early; and keeps you quiet if there are pickups. Alex gets the cards with the "fun facts" (there are about three, one highlighted, but which one he goes for is ultimately up to Alex alone) and when the crew is ready, they come back from commercial to Alex’s chat with the contestants.

Typical Break Two: If there are any pickups from the second half of the Jeopardy! round they do those, the water gets distributed, the production team reminds the contestants how Double Jeopardy! works and that there’s still lots of money out there to win, and Alex comes over to take a picture with the two challengers (the champion will have had their picture taken during their first match.) Then we come back to Double Jeopardy!.

Typical Third Break: This is the big one. There are pickups, water, etc. and they activate the section of the screen where you write your wager. One of the team members brings you a half-sheet of paper ... and you work out what you want to bet. One of your "wranglers" checks it, as does another production team member, to make sure it’s legible and when you’re sure that’s what you want, you lock it in. At that point you can’t change it. They take away the scratch paper and the part of the board where you write your answer is unlocked. Someone will tell you to write either WHO or WHAT in the upper left corner, so you do know at least whether it’s a person or thing. They make sure the "backup card" (a piece of card stock sitting on your podium) is turned to the correct who or what side, just in case your touchscreen fails. If everything’s ready, then as soon as the crew says, they come back and Final Jeopardy! starts.

There are breaks you don’t [even know about, too]. If there is a question about someone’s final answer, they will actually stop tape while the research team checks. Sometimes if something goes really off, like Alex completely misreads a category during the start of a round, they’ll stop and pick it up immediately. Those [are breaks] you’ll never notice because they’ll be completely edited out.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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