16 Heroic Facts About Erin Brockovich
Based on a true story, Erin Brockovich starred Julia Roberts in an Oscar-winning portrayal of a single mother of three who became a legal assistant and started the fight against Hinkley, California's water-polluting Pacific Gas & Electric. Here are some facts about the film to read after all those numbers stop coming out of your ears.
1. ERIN BROCKOVICH'S CHIROPRACTOR GOT THE BIOPIC ROLLING.
Executive producer Carla Santos Shamberg's chiropractor told her about one of her other patients, Erin Brockovich, during an appointment. Carla told her husband, producer Michael Shamberg.
2. THE REAL BROCKOVCH WANTED GOLDIE HAWN TO PLAY HER.
"He'd always ask me, 'If they really do make this movie who should play you?'" Brockovich recalled of a conversation she had with lawyer Ed Masry. "I was always uncomfortable with the question. I'd say, 'I don't know. I hope it's someone funny like Goldie Hawn.' And Ed would say, 'I was thinking of someone more like Roseanne Barr.' And I was like, 'F**k you, Ed,' and he would laugh. He said, 'All kidding aside kid, I don't care who it is as long as it's not Julia Roberts.' He said, 'She has no t**s and no foul mouth, so it wouldn't work.'"
3. JULIA ROBERTS MADE A RECORD-BREAKING AMOUNT OF MONEY.
With Erin Brockovich, Roberts became the first actress to ever earn $20 million for a movie. Universal Pictures was reluctant to pay up, but Roberts' agent successfully argued a Hollywood double standard.
4. ALBERT FINNEY SAID "NO" TO THE FILM.
Producer Danny DeVito had to convince Finney's girlfriend to convince Finney to change his mind, offering to schedule all of the actor's scenes as Ed Masry closer together so he wouldn't have to be in Los Angeles as long as earlier scheduled.
5. THE REAL ERIN SERVED FAKE ERIN IN THE MOVIE.
The actual Brockovich played a waitress named "Julia" in a scene in the film named after her. Director Steven Soderbergh had kept Brockovich and Roberts apart from one another before that so that Roberts wouldn't be tempted to imitate her. Masry, a former child film actor, also appeared in the restaurant scene, as a customer in the booth adjacent to Roberts.
6. ROBERTS HAD TO LEARN TO WRITE RIGHT-HANDED.
While Brockovich is a righty, Roberts is part of the 10 percent of the world who are left-handed.
7. SODERBERGH WAS INFLUENCED BY ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN AND ROCKY.
"It is without question one of my favorite American films of all time,'' the director told The New York Times about All the President's Men (1976). ''And it's one that I looked to quite a lot while I was making my last two movies, Erin Brockovich (2000) and Traffic (2000), because in both cases we were trying to make films about serious issues that were also very entertaining." Soderbergh also classified Erin Brockovich as a Rocky-like movie. "It's a Rocky movie, and that's fine as long as you make a good Rocky movie. I think the first Rocky is a really good movie. I tried to keep that in mind."
8. A DELETED SCENE SHOWED BROCKOVICH IN THE HOSPITAL.
Hinkley's toxins made the real Brockovich sick at one point. Soderbergh filmed a scene set at the hospital, but later cut it from the final product. "I didn't want people to think that this was going to turn into one of those movies where the protagonist gets terminally ill," he said on the DVD commentary. "It was a tough call, because Erin really did get sick and was hospitalized for a while."
9. THE FIRST CUT OF THE FILM WAS THREE HOURS AND 15 MINUTES LONG.
One hour and four minutes of footage had to go for the theatrical release.
10. THE REAL JUDGE CAME OUT OF RETIREMENT TO APPEAR IN THE MOVIE.
Judge LeRoy A. Simmons officiated at the pleading and discovery for Hinkley v. PSE&G, and came out of retirement to repeat his decision, this time in front of actors and cameras.
11. UNIVERSAL WAS CONCERNED ABOUT BROCKOVICH'S LANGUAGE.
Studio executives were worried that audiences would not forgive the title character's language. Most audience members at the test screenings for the film enjoyed themselves anyway.
12. THE STUDIO DID RECEIVE ONE COMPLAINT.
A test screening audience member did take one issue with the film: “The first 99 times I saw her breasts were enough," he said of Roberts.
13. ROBERTS' BOYFRIEND HAD A SIMILAR COMPLAINT.
When Roberts sent her then-boyfriend, Benjamin Bratt, pictures of her new décolletage, he responded, "You can't go out like that!"
14. BROCKOVICH SAID THE MOVIE IS "PROBABLY 98 TO 99 PERCENT" ACCURATE.
"They took very, very few liberties," Brockovich revealed. "One of the liberties was, I was not Miss Wichita, I was actually Miss Pacific Coast, right here in California. Steven Soderbergh thought it would be cute since I was from Kansas to throw that in there."
15. IN REAL LIFE, GEORGE TRIED TO EXTORT BROCKOVICH.
Jorge Halaby (the basis for George) and Brockovich's first husband, Shawn Brown, attempted to extort $310,000 from Brockovich with a claim she had an affair with Masry. Their lawyer was found guilty of extortion and was later disbarred.