15 So Money Facts About 'Swingers'
Set during the 1990s swing revival in Los Angeles, 1996's Swingers—about a lovesick struggling actor (Jon Favreau) getting out of his personal/professional rut by following the advice of his fast-talking friend/fellow actor (Vince Vaughn)—launched the careers of its leads (in addition to starring in the film, Favreau wrote the script and co-produced the picture). Here are some facts about the soon-to-be-20-year-old movie to read before you leave a bunch of messages on someone's answering machine.
1. JON FAVREAU WROTE THE SCREENPLAY IN A WEEK AND A HALF.
"I was just entertaining myself and really enjoying it, sort of giggling at it as I was writing it," Favreau told Grantland. "I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends more as, like, doodles in the notebook than saying, 'Hey, here’s my big movie.'" Favreau had just broken up with his girlfriend and was feeling lonely. He described the screenplay as a "comedic treatment" of his life at the time.
2. STUDIOS WANTED TRENT TO BECOME A FEMALE CHARACTER, OR TO BE PLAYED BY JOHNNY DEPP.
Among the many studio notes Favreau received from potential bidders were to nix the Vegas scenes, change Trent into a woman, have Trent played by Johnny Depp, and/or to cast Chris O'Donnell or Jason Priestley.
3. DOUG LIMAN USED AN ODD CAMERA TECHNIQUE.
Due to a lack of money, director Doug Liman shot the film on an Aaton 35, a "small documentary-style 35mm camera" that "sounds like a sewing machine." He wrapped a down jacket around the camera, then wrapped a down comforter around the jacket so that it wouldn't make so much noise. Favreau said it was as if he was acting in front of a giant snowball.
4. JON FAVREAU'S GRANDMOTHER AND VINCE VAUGHN'S FATHER ACCOMPANIED THEM TO LAS VEGAS.
Joan Favreau was the "$5 Winner" while Vernon Vaughn was the "$100 Gambler"; both are listed in the credits.
5. "YOU'RE SO MONEY" CAME FROM A SPIKE LEE/MICHAEL JORDAN COMMERCIAL.
The director kept calling the basketball player "money" in the Nike advertisements. Favreau saw those commercials, but the first time he ever heard someone describe something as "money" in real life was when Vince Vaughn said it on the set of Rudy. Potential investors and studios wanted to get rid of the "money"s, "honey"s, and "baby"s.
6. THERE WAS A GEORGE LUCAS EASTER EGG.
Trent's license plate THX 1138 is the same as Lucas' THX 1138 (1971).
7. THERE WAS A PRACTICAL REASON FOR MIKE OPENING HIS EMPTY FRIDGE.
“You see when I open the fridge for no reason?" Favreau whispered to Scotty Morris, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's band leader, the night of the premiere. "That’s because Doug said the scene was too dark and we needed to light it, we needed more light.”
8. FAVREAU ADMITTED THE ANSWERING MACHINE SCENE WAS INFLUENCED BY A JEFF GARLIN BIT.
Favreau was an usher at Second City who had seen Jeff Garlin's one-man show, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, many times. At one point in the show, Garlin tells the story about how he left a message professing his love to a woman on her answering machine. He ran into her and asked if she had heard it. She hadn't, but invited Garlin and "12 other people" to her place. It was there, with everybody listening, that she finally played the message. Garlin was so embarrassed he pretended he was asleep. I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With was made into a movie in 2006, without the answering machine scene.
"I have to confess, when I first saw Swingers, I thought a lot of it was influenced by my show," Garlin said. "But I'm influenced by the people and shows I see. When you see my [new] movie, no way you won't think of Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, and Wes Anderson."
9. LIMAN THOUGHT THE ANSWERING MACHINE SCENE CONTAINED TOO MANY MESSAGES.
Favreau was confident that it was the right number of messages—though he admitted, "The crew was not very entertained by it."
10. THE RESERVOIR DOGS SCENE WAS SHOT AT TWO IN THE MORNING.
It was shot in an alley behind a 7-Eleven, in just three takes.
11. THE PARTY SCENE WAS AN ACTUAL PARTY, WITH FUTURE STARS AND INFLUENTIAL PRODUCERS.
Friends of the crew lived in the Hollywood Hills on Temple Hill Drive. Two of the four residents, Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, later produced the Twilight movies. Also in attendance were actors Mike White and Adam Scott, Favreau's downstairs neighbor at the time. Scott had no idea what all the cameras were for.
12. THEY SHOT AT THE DERBY, WITH ACTUAL CUSTOMERS AS UNPAID EXTRAS.
It was awkward for Favreau, who admitted that he had probably (unsuccessfully) hit on some of the women who were being filmed. He also had to tell a man who sat down next to Heather Graham to leave so that the Mike/Lorraine meet cute could be shot.
13. A BAR SCENE INVOLVING A LIVE RABBIT HAD TO BE CUT.
The Derby was very lenient, until a rabbit was placed on the bar for a "key scene." "It's like a board of health thing," Favreau explained. "You can't have a live animal in an eating establishment. After that, they threw us out."
14. FAVREAU TAUGHT GRAHAM HOW TO SWING DANCE.
Favreau himself learned just for the movie. For a month, Favreau and Graham rehearsed at her home and at the Derby.
15. STEVEN SPIELBERG CAST VAUGHN IN THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK AFTER SEEING HIM IN SWINGERS.
"I knew nothing of Vince until I saw Swingers," Spielberg told Rolling Stone. "That made me interested in meeting him for Lost World." Liman had sent Spielberg, a family friend, a tape of Swingers in order to get permission to use music from Jaws (1975).