Paul Newman won an Oscar for his second go-around as “Fast Eddie” Felson in 1986's The Color of Money, a one-time collaboration between the iconic film star and acclaimed director Martin Scorsese. A continuation of 1961’s The Hustler, The Color of Money examined Fast Eddie’s story 25 years later, where he convinces the green-but-talented pool player Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise) to let him help him become a real nine-ball hustler. When Vincent proves too strong-minded—and ego-driven—to ever throw a game in the name of a hustle, Eddie himself makes a triumphant return to the game he loves. Here are some facts about The Color of Money that don't roll funny.
1. IT WAS PAUL NEWMAN WHO APPROACHED MARTIN SCORSESE ABOUT THE FILM.
Walter Tevis had written the book The Hustler and its sequel, The Color of Money, yet Newman didn’t care for the adapted screenplay to the latter. So Newman went to Scorsese, as he was a fan of his work, particularly Raging Bull, which he felt had a similar tone to what The Color of Money should be.
2. NEWMAN ALMOST DROVE THE SCREENWRITER CRAZY.
Novelist Richard Price was brought on to work with Newman and Scorsese on the screenplay, which would feature its own interpretation of what happened to Fast Eddie after The Hustler. Price would work on a scene first, then give it to Scorsese, who would read it and give him notes. Using those notes, Price would rework the scenes and submit them to Newman, who gave the writer his own notes. Newman would at times tell the other two, “Guys, I think we’re missing an opportunity here.” "The minute I heard that I would groan, 'Oh, no, here we go again,'" Price told The New York Times. "Unfortunately, he was rarely wrong. But there were points when I thought, 'If I hear ''we're missing an opportunity" one more time, you're going to be missing a writer.'" It was estimated that Price had at least 36 script conferences with Newman.
3. 20TH CENTURY FOX DIDN’T WANT PAUL NEWMAN OR TOM CRUISE IN THE MOVIE.
Fox was “enthusiastic” ... until then-president Sherry Lansing left. The new bosses didn’t like the movie’s script or the two leads. Columbia also passed. Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, at Touchstone/Disney, saw the film's potential and greenlit the production.
4. SCORSESE AND NEWMAN HAD TO RISK SOME OF THEIR SALARIES.
The studio decided that a 50-day shooting schedule and a $14.5 million budget was sufficient for the film. They also worked out a deal where, if the movie eclipsed its set budget, Newman and Scorsese would be responsible for making up the difference, and put one-third of their respective salaries at risk. They ended up finishing the shoot one day early and $1.5 million under budget.
5. JACKIE GLEASON PASSED ON MAKING A CAMEO.
Gleason famously played Minnesota Fats in The Hustler, and his character played a big part in the book version of The Color of Money. "We desperately wanted the character to return,'' Newman told The New York Times, ''but every time we put him in, it seemed like we were trying to glue an arm on a man and make it stick.'' Added Scorsese: ''We finally presented a script to Gleason with Fats in. But he felt it was an afterthought.'' As such, Gleason passed.
6. THE CHARACTER OF JANELLE WAS CREATED AT THE LAST MINUTE.
Just before filming, Eddie’s love interest/bar owner Janelle (Helen Shaver) was added so that Eddie’s relationship with Vincent wouldn’t be misinterpreted.
7. JOHN TURTURRO’S AGENT DIDN’T WANT TURTURRO TO MAKE THE FILM.
John Turturro admitted that he wasn’t getting paid what he felt he was worth to play Julian, but he took the job anyway. During production, he showed his screenplay for Mac to Scorsese, who was complimentary and gave him advice. Mac found its way into theaters in 1992.
8. MARY ELIZABETH MASTRANTONIO WAS THE LAST PERSON TO AUDITION FOR CARMEN.
Mastrantonio believes she was the last person to audition for Scarface, too.
9. CRUISE AND NEWMAN HAD MET BEFORE FILMING.
The two met at Newman’s office years earlier, after Newman had seen Cruise in Taps. Newman said, “Hey, Killer.” Cruise responded by claiming he would have taken the Military Academy over if he had five more minutes. Newman called Cruise only by his last name on set.
10. THEY DIDN’T HAVE TIME FOR CRUISE TO LEARN EVERY POOL SHOT.
Cruise prepared for his role by shooting a lot of billiards, estimating that he had improved “200 percent” in a few weeks' time. Cruise performed all of his own pool stunts, except for when Vincent jumps two balls to make his desired shot. Scorsese figured it would take Cruise two days to figure out how to do it himself, but it would have cost precious time and money. Michael Sigel, a technical advisor on the film, performed the trick instead.
11. YOU KNOW THE PERSON THAT VOICES THE OPENING UNCREDITED VOICEOVER.
Scorsese himself spoke of the game of nine-ball.
12. TOP POOL PLAYERS AND ONE STOOGE APPEARED IN THE FILM.
Steve Mizerak, a famous pool player as far as back as a 1978 Bud Light ad, portrayed Eddie’s first opponent in Atlantic City. Jimmy Mataya, better known as “Pretty Boy Floyd,” played Julian’s friend in the Green Room. Keith McCready portrayed Grady Seasons. The Stooges frontman Iggy Pop also appeared as a pool player.
13. THE POOL CUE USED WASN’T A BALABUSHKA.
Eddie and Vincent were both lying to themselves; their cue was a Joss N7 model.
14. SCORSESE GOT THE IDEA FOR GOODFELLAS WHILE SHOOTING THE COLOR OF MONEY.
In a rare moment of downtime, "I read a review of [Nicholas Pileggi's] Wiseguy when I was directing The Color of Money, and it said something about this character Henry Hill having access to many different levels of organized crime because he was somewhat of an outsider," Scorsese told Rolling Stone. "He looked a little nicer. He was able to be a better frontman and speak a little better. I thought that was interesting, because you could get a cross section of the layers of organized crime—from his point of view, of course. So I got the book, started reading it and was fascinated by the narrative ability of it."
15. DAVID GEFFEN WAS UPSET OVER THE SOUNDTRACK.
Robbie Robertson put the soundtrack together, which is best known for featuring Eric Clapton and Robertson’s “It’s in the Way That You Use It” and Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” Geffen would not allow Robertson permission to use his own voice at any point on the album, because he felt that the singer’s first solo record was being delayed on account of his work on the soundtrack. The Band performer still managed to get music from the likes of Clapton, Don Henley, B.B. King, Robert Palmer, and Willie Dixon.
16. INTEREST IN POOL INCREASED FOLLOWING THE FILM'S RELEASE.
Sales of cue sticks in Southern California were reported to have increased by 25 percent a month after the film's release. Pool table sales increased, too. A similar bump in popularity occurred when The Hustler was first released.
17. THE VIDEO GAME ‘DOOM’ GOT ITS NAME FROM THE FILM.
id software found the perfect title for their first-person shooter classic from the scene between Vincent and Moselle (Bruce A. Young). When Vincent was asked what’s in his pool cue case, he asked, “Here?” He then opened the case and said his influential one-word response.