13 Fascinating Facts About Natural Born Killers
One of the most controversial movies ever made, 1994’s Natural Born Killers caught the attention of the media with its story about two mass murderers and the media’s boundless fascination with them. Here are some facts that know the difference between right and wrong, but don’t necessarily give a damn.
1. QUENTIN TARANTINO WROTE THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT.
It was titled Mickey and Mallory and focused more on the media than on Mickey Knox and Mallory Wilson. He sold the rights to the movie for $10,000 because he was unable to get it made himself (this was before Pulp Fiction). Tarantino ended up getting a story credit for Natural Born Killers, while Richard Rutowski, Oliver Stone, and David Veloz each got a screenwriting credit.
2. JAMES WOODS AND GARY OLDMAN WERE UP FOR THE PART OF DETECTIVE SCAGNETTI.
According to Tom Sizemore, he got the part of Detective Jack Scagnetti after writing a monologue for the character, which he made Oliver Stone listen to in the parking lot of a bar. In addition to reading up on Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, he got clean for 97 days before filming. Unfortunately, the sobriety didn’t last.
3. MICHAEL MADSEN ALMOST TOOK THE LEAD.
Michael Madsen was considered for the lead role of Mickey: "Oliver Stone wanted me, but the studios offered him an extra $20 million to cast Woody Harrelson," Madsen told The Guardian.
4. WAYNE GALE WAS PARTIALLY PATTERNED AFTER GERALDO RIVERA.
After briefly considering casting Geraldo Rivera himself in the role, Stone offered the part of TV tabloid journalist Wayne Gale to Robert Downey Jr. To prepare for the role, the actor spent some time with A Current Affair reporter Steve Dunleavy and his producer, Wayne Darwen. Both Dunleavy and Darwen have been individually credited as the inspiration for Downey’s character and his Australian accent.
5. RODNEY DANGERFIELD WROTE ALL THE "FILTHY STUFF" HIS CHARACTER SAID.
Oliver Stone didn’t give the comedian a script; he simply told Dangerfield he was going to play “the father from hell.”
6. STONE PLAYED LOUD MUSIC BETWEEN TAKES.
Sometimes it was “loud, industrial rock music” which was blasted through speakers to keep up the tension. Other times it was “African tribal music” being played at top volume.
7. THE SHOOT WAS A "NIGHTMARE" FOR THE DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY.
Cinematographer Robert Richardson’s wife became ill giving birth to their daughter, and told her husband that if he worked on Natural Born Killers she would divorce him (and eventually did). Adding to this stress: Richardson's brother ended up in a coma in the midst of production, the images he was shooting brought up bad childhood memories, and he broke a bone in his hand while shooting in the prison. Richardson “almost went mad” and described the experience of shooting Natural Born Killers as a “nightmare.”
8. THE PRISON SCENES WERE SHOT AT STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER.
The Illinois facility was also used in The Blues Brothers and Bad Boys. The more complicated scenes were shot in studios in Chicago on sets built to look like the prison. Actual prisoners were cast as extras, and paid $50 a day.
9. MICKEY AND MALLORY GOT MARRIED IN NEW MEXICO.
The unconventional wedding ceremony was shot on The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in Taos, New Mexico.
10. NO, COCA-COLA DIDN'T KNOW THEIR PRODUCT WOULD BE USED THE WAY IT WAS.
Coke agreed for their old polar bear commercial to be used in the movie, believing the ad would be shown while Tommy Lee Jones was watching the Super Bowl. Instead, it was juxtaposed with violence. The soda giant's board of directors was “furious,” but it was too late to do anything about it.
11. MICKEY AND MALLORY DIE IN THE ALTERNATE ENDING.
The killers survive in the final version because Oliver Stone believed that the 1990s were a time when the bad guys got away with it.
12. ROBERT DE NIRO WAS NOT PLEASED THAT JULIETTE LEWIS IMPROVISED.
Three years before Natural Born Killers, De Niro and Lewis had worked together on Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. When De Niro praised her work in the film, Lewis explained that she improvised most of her lines, which De Niro did not like. He admonished the young actress for disrespecting the film's writers.
13. JOHN GRISHAM THOUGHT OLIVER STONE SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF MICKEY AND MALLORY COPYCATS.
Two of the most notable “copycat killers” to follow in the footsteps of Mickey and Mallory were Ben Darras and Sarah Edmondson, two Oklahoma teens who murdered businessman Bill Savage in Mississippi then shot and paralyzed convenience store clerk Patsy Byers in Louisiana. The teenagers claimed that their crime spree was inspired by Natural Born Killers, leading Byers's family to file a lawsuit against both Stone and Time Warner—an action that was fully supported by bestselling author/lawyer John Grisham, who was a personal friend of Savage's. Grisham claimed that because of the direct "causal link" between the film and the teens's actions, "the artist should be required to share responsibility along with the nutcase who pulled the trigger." The case against Stone and the studio was eventually dismissed.