When Fight Club came out on October 15, 1999, it received mixed reviews and was initially seen as a financial disappointment. But after its theatrical run, a large number of DVD viewers discovered a humorous, anti-corporate, modern take on the vintage "coming of age" story that demanded multiple views. Today, we bring you 15 things you may not have known about the cult classic.
1. THE IDEA FOR 'FIGHT CLUB' STARTED WITH AN ACTUAL FIGHT.
Chuck Palahniuk was inspired to write the book Fight Club after a camping incident with his friends. When Palahniuk complained to some other campers that they were playing their radio too loudly, a brawl broke out. Even though Chuck's face was "smashed up," none of his co-workers the Monday after the incident acknowledged that he looked any different.
2. EDWARD NORTON AND DAVID FINCHER COMPARED 'FIGHT CLUB' TO 'THE GRADUATE.'
Norton said that he noticed a parallel between Fight Club and The Graduate after reading the book for the first time, particularly that both are stories of "youthful dislocation" where the protagonist struggles to "figure out the answer to the question of how to be happy." Director David Fincher also found some similarities, but felt that while both involve an "everyman" trying to find the right path, Fight Club is a "Nineties inverse" of the story, where the everyman "does not have a world a possibilities in front of him. He had no possibilities...he literally cannot imagine a way to change his life." Influenced by Norton and Fincher's findings, a producer initially considered The Graduate screenwriter Buck Henry to adapt Palahniuk's book, but Palahniuk disagreed with the idea. Ultimately, Jim Uhls was given the honor.
3. BRAD PITT'S SALARY WAS SEVEN TIMES HIGHER THAN HIS CO-STAR'S.
Russell Crowe was considered to play Tyler Durden and had met with a producer to discuss the part, but it was Brad Pitt who ended up with the role, adding $17.5 million to his bank account in the process. Edward Norton was cast by Fincher because of his performance in The People Vs. Larry Flynt, and took the studio's offer of $2.5 million.
4. DAVID FINCHER MET WITH JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS FOR THE ROLE OF MARLA, AND SHE DIDN'T KNOW WHO HE WAS.
There were a lot of alleged potential Marla Singers. 20th Century Fox wanted Winona Ryder, but it didn't work out. Fincher initially preferred Janeane Garofalo, but the script made her "uncomfortable." Courtney Love wanted the role, but complications stemming from dating Norton at the time muddled things. Reese Witherspoon was deemed too young by the director, and she turned the role down anyway. Fincher also met with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was still playing Elaine Benes on Seinfeld at the time. Even though he had already directed Se7en and The Game by then, Fincher believed that she didn't know who he was, admitting that he felt like a "fucking loser."
The role ended up going to Helena Bonham Carter, thanks to her performance in The Wings Of The Dove.
5. PITT AND NORTON TOOK BOXING AND SOAP-MAKING CLASSES TO PREPARE.
Knowing that he could afford to get them fixed again, Brad Pitt had his pieces of his front teeth chipped off to play Tyler Durden. According to the DVD commentary featuring the two, Norton and Pitt both took soap-making classes from a boutique company called Auntie Godmother. They also took "basic lessons" in boxing, taekwondo, and grappling, topping it all off with watching hours of mixed martial arts fights.
They weren't the only ones watching mixed martial arts to prepare for the film. Makeup artist Julie Pearce studied the fights to see what kind of makeup effects were going to be necessary. The right-handed Pearce also learned how to do her job with her left hand at the insistence of Bonham Carter, who believed that Marla would not be good at, or care about, putting on makeup.
6. THERE IS A STARBUCKS COFFEE CUP IN NEARLY EVERY SCENE.
David Fincher has said that there is at least one Starbucks cup in every shot. He was inspired by his previous film The Game, where he managed to place a can of haggis in every scene in tribute to his cinematographer Harris "Haggis" Savides. Starbucks was okay with the idea and claimed to get the joke, with one big exception: the scene in the end of the film where a coffee shop gets completely destroyed. As a result, the giant globe crashes into a fictitious shop named "Gratifico Coffee."
7. TYLER DURDEN BRIEFLY APPEARS IN THE FILM FIVE DIFFERENT TIMES BEFORE HE'S FORMALLY INTRODUCED.
The first time Tyler Durden is explicitly in the movie, we see him on a moving airport walkway. Before this, he pops up for 1/24ths of a second four separate times: near the photocopier at The Narrator's job, in the hallway outside the doctor's office, at the testicular cancer support group meeting, and behind The Narrator when he sees Marla leaving the meeting. He is also the waiter on the far right in the presentation video of the hotel The Narrator checks into.
8. MEAT LOAF WORE A FAT SUIT FILLED WITH BIRD SEED.
Meat Loaf endured a lot to play Bob. The singer/actor required an oxygen mask after every take of the scene when he fights The Narrator, and he had to wear a fat suit that was filled with over 100 pounds worth of bird seed so it resembled sagging flesh. Makeup artist Rob Bottin arguably had it just as bad—he had to build two different fat suits because Fincher and the producers weren't sure if the studio would approve the suit with the nipples, or if they'd insist Meat Loaf wear one without them. Despite this, Bob fought Norton's character with a shirt on, which is in violation of Fight Club's Sixth Rule, "No shirts, no shoes."
Meat Loaf was a good sport about the whole thing, giving Norton a framed photo of Norton’s face pressed against his chest with a note saying “With Hugs, Love Meat."
9. THE DETECTIVES' NAMES ARE ONE DAVID FINCHER EASTER EGG.
The three detectives in the film who try to castrate The Narrator are named Detective Andrew, Detective Kevin, and Detective Walker. If you combine those three last names, you come up with Andrew Kevin Walker, the name of the writer of Fincher's Se7en. He christened those snippy detectives as such to give Walker some acknowledgment for doing an uncredited re-write of Fight Club's screenplay. Cameron Crowe, Fincher, Norton, and Pitt also contributed to the screenplay in an unofficial capacity.
10. CGI From 'Titanic' Was Used For a Scene.
And not where you'd expect. In the scene where Norton's character, at the behest of a support group leader, imagines himself in an ice cave, his foggy breath is partly recycled from the breath effects in Titanic. Visual effects artists "remixed" the cloudy puffs of air to work for the dream-like sequence.
11. WHEN NORTON HITS TYLER DURDEN IN THE EAR, BRAD PITT'S REACTION IS REAL.
In the scene where The Narrator is learning how to fight, Ed Norton was supposed to throw a "relatively meek" punch at Tyler Durden's shoulder. Just before cameras rolled, Fincher whispered in Norton's ear to hit Pitt in the ear. Norton did as he was told, which makes Pitt's reaction—"You hit me in the ear?!"—all the more amusing.
12. ONE CONTROVERSIAL LINE WAS CHANGED TO AN ARGUABLY EVEN MORE CONTROVERSIAL ONE.
In Palahniuk's book, Marla's post-coital words to Tyler were, "Oh, Tyler. I want your abortion," but 20th Century Fox executive Laura Ziskin insisted that Fincher change it. The director agreed on the condition that he would only change the line once. Ziskin said it was a deal, but regretted it when she heard Marla's new line: "I haven't been fucked like that since grade school." Ziskin "begged" Fincher to swap the original line back in, but he refused. Both versions of the scene were shot in a Church Rectory.
13. JARED LETO'S ORIGINAL BEATING HAD TO BE CUT BECAUSE IT WAS TOO GRUESOME.
When we first meet future Oscar winner Jared Leto in Fight Club as "Angel Face," Tyler Durden looks directly at him when he talks about "rock stars," an intentional or unintentional nod at Leto's then year-old stint as frontman for 30 Seconds to Mars. Later on in the film, Angel Face gets a gruesome makeover during a fight, one that was so bad, the studio insisted it was cut—the only notable studio censorship other than the abortion line mentioned above.
In the uncut version, Fincher explains, Angel Face's nose is split open down the center and a "kind of jelly-like bubble of blood gushes out like a volcano." It was apparently so gross, the cast and crew avoided Leto on the day the scene was shot because his prosthetic was so nauseating to look at.
14. THE BLU-RAY VERSION OF 'FIGHT CLUB' INITIALLY SHOWS THE BLU-RAY MENU FOR 'NEVER BEEN KISSED.'
On the original Fight Club DVD, following the standard piracy warnings, a one-second long subversive message from Tyler Durden appears. On the tenth anniversary Blu-Ray version of the film, the menu for the Drew Barrymore movie Never Been Kissed appears for a good 15 seconds before revealing itself as a prank. (The joke was David Fincher's idea.)
15. ROSIE O'DONNELL SPOILED THE BIG TWIST ON HER TV SHOW.
The day the film was released, Rosie O'Donnell announced on her nationally televised show that she had been to a Fight Club advance screening a few days earlier and was unable to sleep. Not only did O'Donnell implore her audience to not see the movie, she gave away the big twist, an act that Brad Pitt later said was "unforgivable."