10 Things You Didn't Know... - January 24, 2017

10 Things You Didn’t Know About… American Beauty
by Tom
Tom
by Tom hmv London, Bio hmv.com Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About… American Beauty

It’s been 17 years since the release of American Beauty, but its power, poise, and brilliance still resonates and continues to make it an essential watch.

Starring Kevin Spacey, Chris Cooper, Annette Benning, Mena Suvari and Thora Birch, it tells the story of Lester and Carolyn Burnham and their daughter Jane. On the surface, they seem like a happy family, but Lester is desperately depressed and frustrated with his lot in life, a frustration that leads to an almighty mid-life crisis, a crisis that changes everything for the family and the people around them.

Now on offer as part of hmv’s awards campaign we thought we’d revisit and bring you 10 things you didn’t know about American Beauty

 

The role of Lester was offered to two stars before Kevin Spacey…

Although Spacey was Mendes’ choice from the off, the producer did offer the part to two other actors Tom Hanks and Chevy Chase. It would have been quite a different film with either of those two in the starring role.

 

Lots of actresses turned down the role of Angela…

The role of Angela would eventually go to American Pie star Mena Suvari, but it was offered to a few actresses before her. Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brittany Murphy and Katie Holmes all turned it down.

 

Both Kate Hudson and Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned for the movie…

Hudson missed out to Suvari for the role of Angela, while Gyllenhaal went up for the role of Ricky, a role that went to West Bentley.

 

Jessica Biel was cast, but had to drop out…

The movie’s original cast had Jessica Biel in the role of Jane Burnham, but in the end, she had to drop out in favour a role in Aaron Spelling’s 7th Heaven. Thora Birch was then cast, but…

 

Thora Birch needed very supportive parents…

Birch was barely 17 when she accepted the role of Jane Burnham and, as a result, her parents had to approve her brief topless scene in the movie. Fortunately, they signed on the dotted line...

 

Terry Gilliam turned down the chance to direct it…

Before the gig was offered to Mendes it was offered to the Monty Python man, but he wasn’t interested.

 

Those faces when Lester throws the asparagus, they’re genuine…

In that tense dinner scene it was written in the script that Lester would hurl the plate against the floor, but Spacey, ever the experimentalist, decided to hurl it against the wall, not expecting this, the shocked faces of Annette Benning and Thora Birch are entirely genuine…

 

Paula Abdul makes a special contribution…

The singer and future American Idol judge guested on the movie to choreograph the dance routine the cheerleaders, who feature both Angela and Jane, perform.

 

The hands on the poster do not belong to Mena Suvari...

In fact, they belong to American model Chloe Hunter.

 

It performed handsomely at the Oscars, but didn’t win them all…

American Beauty was nominated for eight Oscars in 2000 and ended up walking away with five. Among the five were Best Picture, Best Actor for Kevin Spacey, Best Director for Sam Mendes, Best Original Screenplay for Alan Ball and Best Cinematography for Conrad Hall.

It lost out in the race for Best Original Score and Editing, while Hilary Swank’s turn in Boys Don’t Cry meant Annette Benning lost out on Best Actress.

 

American Beauty is available now as part of hmv’s awards campaign. To see the full range of titles, click here.

 

American Beauty
American Beauty Sam Mendes

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