10 Nice and Accurate Facts About Good Omens

HarperCollins
HarperCollins

After decades of waiting, fans of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch will finally get to lay their eyes upon an adaptation of the classic work of comic fantasy. Later this year, all your favorite Good Omens characters—the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), his demon BFF Crowley (David Tennant), pre-teen Antichrist Adam (Sam Taylor Buck), the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and more will appear on Amazon Prime and BBC Two. Before you watch it, here are some facts about the original, award-winning 1990 book.

1. It’s been adapted before.

The road to get Good Omens to the screen has been an arduous one (more on that later), but in 2015 a radio adaptation was broadcast on BBC 4. Among the cast were Mark Heap (Spaced), Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead), Louise Brealey (Sherlock), and Colin Morgan (Merlin).

2. Terry Gilliam was working on a movie adaptation for ages.

The Oscar-nominated director of Brazil and Time Bandits was working on a Good Omens adaptation for years. Per an interview with Gaiman, it finally fell apart due to bad timing, i.e., Gilliam pitched Hollywood financiers shortly after 9/11.

"[Terry] said, 'Hilarious movie about the Antichrist and the end of the world,' and they said, 'Please go away, you're scaring us,'' Gaiman told The Empire Film Podcast in 2013.

3. Johnny Depp and Robin Williams almost starred in the Good Omens movie.

When Terry Gilliam was still onboard the Good Omens movie, he had his eye on Johnny Depp for the demon Crowley and Robin Williams for Aziraphale. In the new miniseries, they're played by David Tennant and Michael Sheen, respectively.

4. There was almost a film version very different from the book.

In 1992, two years after the book’s publication, Gaiman wrote a Good Omens script for Sovereign Pictures, who had requested he write something with some of the same characters but substantial plot differences. "Set in America, no Four Horsemen … oh god," was Pratchett's take on what the film would have been like. Fortunately for the writers, Sovereign went bankrupt and Gaiman and Pratchett got the film rights back.

5. It was nominated for a religious fiction award.

In Good Omens, Gaiman and Pratchett take a comic approach to religion that is, per Gaiman, "blasphemous against religious order, as blasphemous as you can get." Still, it ended up being embraced by some religious leaders. "When Terry and I wrote it we half-expected book burnings and bricks through our windows, and instead we were nominated for (but did not win) a religious fiction award," Gaiman wrote in 2013.

6. A sequel was in the works.

Certain elements from the Good Omens show are taken from a sequel that Gaiman and Pratchett talked about but never wrote. "There are a lot of characters whom I borrowed from the sequel, and had them do the things they would have done [in the sequel, but] earlier," Gaiman explained. "[The Archangel] Gabriel [played by Jon Hamm] is a prime example."

7. One interviewer didn't realize the book was fiction.

For the first radio interview Gaiman and Pratchett did to promote the book, the radio host didn’t realize the book was fiction and instead assumed that the the pair had unearthed actual prophecies predicting the end of the world. "Once we realized, it was great fun," Pratchett recalled. “We could take over the interview, since we knew he didn’t know enough stop us."

8. Neil Gaiman WAS RELUCTANT to adapt the book without Terry Pratchett.

Pratchett passed away 2015, leaving the future of any Good Omens adaptation—which Gaiman had previously said he didn’t want to do without Pratchett—up in the air. However, Pratchett wrote a letter shortly before he died giving Gaiman his blessing to continue without him. "I would very much like this to happen, and I know, Neil, that you’re very very busy, but no one else could ever do it with the passion that we share for the old girl," Pratchett wrote. "I wish I could be more involved and I will help in any way I can."

9. The American edition was originally longer.

The first American edition of Good Omens had about 700 more words than the British hardback. Pratchett explained that the book’s American publisher requested a passage on what happened to Warlock—the child who everyone thinks is the Anti-Christ, but who is actually a normal 11-year-old boy (there was a switch at the hospital).

“He was an American boy, you see, and she was certain that Americans would want to know what had happened to him. So we said OK, and wrote it. To the best of my recollection that was the biggest change, although there were other minor additions.” The Brits finally got that extra Good Omens sweetness once the UK paperback was set from the U.S. manuscript.

10. Floppy disks were an integral part of the Good Omens collaboration.

Pratchett and Gaiman collaborated on Good Omens by mailing floppy disks back and forth to one another. "This was back in 1988 when floppy disks really were pretty darn floppy," Gaiman wrote of the process. Initially, Pratchett focused on writing most of the stuff surrounding Adam and his friends while Gaiman focused on the Four Horsemen bits. By the time they were finished, they had both worked on everything and it was hard to know what belonged to who.

Can You Guess the Book by the Subtitle?

Letters From James Bond Creator Ian Fleming Detailing His Infidelity Hit the Auction Block

Sony
Sony

If the adage “write what you know” truly applies, then James Bond author Ian Fleming took it to heart. Like 007, his famously womanizing character who later went on to star in a hugely successful movie franchise, Fleming was apparently prone to finding himself in choppy relationship waters, according to a collection of private letters coming up for auction.

Sotheby’s is offering a collection of 160 pieces of correspondence belonging to Fleming, including a series of exchanges between the writer and his wife, Ann, that detail his infidelity.

“You mention ‘bad old bachelor days’—the only person you stopped sleeping with when they ceased was me!” Ann wrote, apparently referencing Fleming’s indiscretions. Other letters seem to hint at a more stable, if lurid, coupling, with Fleming affectionately referring to her as “darling baby” and opening his messages by addressing her as “Dear Monkey” or “Darling Pig.”

Before they married, Ann expressed hope Fleming would arrive to take her away from her then-husband, Esmond, Viscount Rothermere, and “put me in your bed with a raw cowhide whip in my hand so as I can keep you well behaved for 40 years.” Clearly, that plan didn't succeed.

Fleming and Ann were married in 1952 and remained together until his death in 1964. The letters were often exchanged while the writer was on retreat at Goldeneye, Jamaica, where he wrote many of his Bond novels. The letters also frequently reference his work and some of Bond’s origins. In one, he explains work is going so well he’s completing a chapter a day. Describing a boat given to him by a friend, he wrote that “I have christened [it] Octopussy.”

The salacious letters will be auctioned from December 3 to 10 and are expected to fetch between about $260,000 and $400,000.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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