15 Surprising Facts About Half Baked
You may have known these facts about Half Baked—Tamra Davis's stoner comedy starring Dave Chappelle, Guillermo Díaz, and Jim Breuer—at one point. But it’s easy to see how the film, which was released on January 16, 1998, could make viewers a little forgetful.
1. THE SCRIPT WAS A TEAM EFFORT.
Half Baked was written by star Dave Chappelle and his writing partner Neal Brennan. Five years later, the duo would go on to co-create Chappelle’s Show for Comedy Central. (Brennan even has a cameo in Half Baked as the cashier at the burger joint where Scarface works.)
2. NEW YORK CITY WAS A KEY INSPIRATION.
Chappelle was inspired to write Half Baked after a friend told him about New York City drug dealers who conveniently deliver illicit substances to customers’ apartments.
3. THE OPENING SCENE WAS A RISK FOR THE STUDIO.
The studio originally wanted to cut the opening scene showing kids smoking marijuana and getting the munchies, but decided to keep it after audiences at test screenings found it hilarious.
4. DIRECTING IT WAS A NO-BRAINER FOR TAMRA DAVIS.
It's a good thing that opening scene stayed in, as it's what sold Tamra Davis on the project. In fact, she only read 10 pages of Chappelle and Brennan’s script before accepting the directing job.
"The reason why I wanted to do this movie was because the opening scene is so funny," she told Mass Appeal in 2017. "And they were like, 'No, it sends a bad message, kids smoking pot.' I was like, 'Can I screen the movie? Nobody’s ever seen this movie, can we look at it first and see how the movie plays before you guys start giving me cuts?'"
5. THE FILM HAS A MUSIC VIDEO PEDIGREE.
Davis is also humorously listed as the director of Sir Smoka Lot’s “Samson Gets Me Lifted” music video in the film. Prior to directing feature films like Half Baked and Billy Madison, Davis directed more than 30 actual music videos, including Tone Lōc’s “Wild Thing” and Hanson’s “MMMBop.”
6. MOST OF "NEW YORK" IS REALLY TORONTO.
The film was shot over 40 days, primarily in Toronto. Three days of exterior shooting were done in New York to feature landmarks like Washington Square Park.
7. PRODUCERS PULLED OUT ALL THE STOPS ON CAMEOS.
Tracy Morgan makes a cameo as the VJ who introduces Sir Smoka Lot’s music video. Other cameos in the film include Jon Stewart, Tommy Chong, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Janeane Garofalo, and Bob Saget.
8. THERE WAS A REAL GUY ON THE COUCH.
The Guy on the Couch was inspired by a friend of Chappelle’s who constantly crashed on Chappelle’s couch while he and Brennan toiled away at writing the screenplay. In the film, the role of the Guy went to comedian Steven Wright.
9. THE BEASTIE BOYS INSPIRED THE FILM'S DESIGN.
Davis drew inspiration of the prop and color design of the guys’ apartment from the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal Recording Studios. The connection makes sense, as Davis was married to Mike D of the Beastie Boys.
10. THE PRISON HAD VERY CLEAN WATER.
The exterior of the prison where Kenny is locked up is actually the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant in Toronto. (The same facility played the role of Elsinore Brewery in 1983's Strange Brew.) Some prison interiors, including the cafeteria scenes, where shot in an actual prison.
11. THE DIRECTOR HAS A TINY CAMEO.
All the acting with Killer’s fake dog paws was done on-set by Davis.
12. THE CAST GOT GREAT SOUVENIRS.
Many members of the cast and crew kept blocks of the fake medicinal marijuana as a joke after production wrapped.
13. NO, THAT'S NOT JERRY GARCIA.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Jerry Garcia did not appear in Half Baked. Garcia is played by impersonator David Bluestein.
14. ALL THAT "POT" WAS TOBACCO.
The actors smoked a tobacco-based substitute to stand in for marijuana in the film (though there are some rumors that the scene featuring Snoop Dogg featured real marijuana).
15. IT ALMOST HAD A DARKER ENDING.
The original ending of the movie was supposed to be much darker. In it, Thurgood abandoned his girlfriend Mary Jane and jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge after the joint he threw away.