Fight Club was one of those nineties films that turned out to be a cult classic. The film tackles anti-consumerism and encourages watchers to avoid listening to what corporations tell you to buy. Based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk, the movie is full of great quotes and an ensemble cast.
But, one of the most beloved movies has controversy behind it, even before it was released in theaters. As the movie approaches its 20th anniversary, these are some juicy details that you may not have known about it.
The Idea For The Book Started With An Actual Fight
While camping with friends, Chuck Palahniuk became inspired to write the book Fight Club. This comes from an incident with his friends after the author complained to other campers that they were playing their radio too loudly.
Afterward, a fight broke out and Palahniuk went into work the following Monday with his face smashed up. Thankfully, none of his co-workers who saw his face after the incident acknowledged he looked any different. Their reluctance to learn what happened inspired him to write the book.
Fincher Met With A Seinfeld Star But They Didn’t Know Who He Was
Fox originally wanted Winona Ryder to be cast as Marla Singers, but The director preferred comedian Janeane Garofalo, but the script made her feel uncomfortable. Next up was Courtney Love, but complications stemming from her relationship with Norton muddled things.
After Love, Reese Witherspoon was deemed too young by Fincher and she turned down the role. Fincher would meet with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but he believed that she didn’t know who he was. The search finally ended when Helena Bonham Carter was cast.
Edward Norton And David Fincher Compared The Movie To A Dustin Hoffman Flick
The actor said he noticed a parallel between Fight Club and The Graduate. After he read the book for the first time, the American History X star noticed that both are stories of youthful dislocation. The protagonist struggles to “figure out the answer to the question of how to be happy.”
Meanwhile, the director found some similarities, but felt that both involved an everyman trying to find the right path. Influenced by their findings, a producer considered The Graduate screenwriter Buck Henry to adapt Palahniuk’s book, but the author disagreed.
Pitt And Norton Took Classes To Prepare For The Movie
Both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton took soap-making classes from a boutique company called Auntie Godmother. Plus, they took basic lessons in boxing, taekwondo, and grappling. They would top it off with watching hours of mixed martial arts fights.
Makeup artist Jule Pearce even studied the fights to see what type of makeup effects were going to be necessary. Despite being right-handed, she learned how to do her job with her left hand at the insistence of Carter, who believed Marla wouldn’t be good at putting on makeup.
Paper Streets Is A Real Thing
The words appear when Durden gives the Narrator his card for Paper Street Soap Co. That’s where the characters exchange numbers, setting the film’s events in motion. If anyone understands the terminology of map publishers, you’ll see how it relates to the card Durden has.
Essentially, paper streets exist on maps but not in the real world. They’re mostly used by map publishers as copyright traps. If another map includes this trap street, the publisher would know they were stolen from a different map.
Tyler Durden And Marla Are Based Off Real People
According to Palahniuk, “one of those neo-romantic people who think if the Y2K bug happens, we’ll be better off.” In a funny turn of events, the friend actually had a lifelong wish of meeting Brad Pitt before Palahniuk was a critically acclaimed author.
In a 2014 interview with TOR, he further described what his friends look like in real life. Tyler apparently has “shoulder-length Jesus blond hair” and Marla isn’t much like Helena Bonham Carter’s character.
CGI Effects From An Oscar-Winning Movie Were Used For A Scene
Some visual effects used for Fincher’s film were taken from other films; like in the scene where Norton’s character, at the behest of a support group leader, imagines himself in an ice cave. Fincher used the same effects from the end of Titanic when Jack is freezing in the ocean.
Plus, the visual effects artists ended up remixing the cloudy puffs of air to work for the dream-like sequence. When working with a limited budget, sometimes you have to get creative!
Tyler Durden Appears In The Movie Before He’s Formally Introduced
The first time Durden is explicitly in the movie, he’s on a moving airport walkway. Before that, he pops up on four separate occasions. It happens near the photocopier at The Narrator’s job and again in the hallway outside the doctor’s office.
He makes another appearance at the testicular cancer support group meeting where he sees Marla leaving. The final time he appears is as a waiter in the video presentation at the hotel the narrator is staying at.
Meat Loaf Wore A Fat Suit Filled With Bird Seed
The musician required an oxygen tank after every take of the scene where he fights The Narrator. Perhaps that’s because the director made him wear a fat suit filled with 100 pounds worth of bird seed shaped to look like sagging flesh.
If you remember, Bob violated the, “No shirts, no shoes” rule of Fight Club to hide the fake body. Meat Loaf was a good sport throughout the process, giving Norton a framed photo of the actor’s face pressed against his chest.
When The Narrator Hits Durden In The Ear, Brad Pitt’s Reaction Was Real
The scene in which Norton’s character is learning how to fight, he was supposed to throw a weak punch. While he was supposed to hit Pitt’s shoulder, Fincher whispered to Norton to hit his co-star in the ear.
The actor did as he was told, which makes Pitt’s reaction all the more amusing. “You hit me in the ear!?” He sounds rightfully shocked and confused at the same time. But thanks to Fincher’s instigative ways, he went about the rest of day super pleased.
Brad Pitt’s Salary Was Significantly Higher Than His Co-Star’s
In 1991, Pitt’s first acting role was portraying J.D. in Thelma & Louise. Since then, he appeared in Interview with the Vampire, Seven, and Meet Joe Black. It’s safe to say that the actor was already well-known before being cast as Tyler Durden.
Russell Crow was considered for the role and had met with a producer to discuss the part. However, Pitt got the role, earn himself quite the payday by making $17.5 million to add to his bank account. As for his co-star, Norton took the studio’s offer of $2.5 million.
The Detectives Names Are An Easter Egg
The three detectives in the film are named Detective Andrew, Detective Kevin, and Detective Walker. Combining those three last names, it comes up with Andrew Kevin Walker, the name of the writer of Fincher’s Se7en.
The director christened those snippy detectives as such to give Walker some acknowledgment for doing an uncredited re-write of Fight Club‘s screenplay. Fincher, Norton, and Pitt all contributed to the screenplay in an unofficial capacity.
One Controversial Line Was Changed To A More Controversial One
In the book, Marla looks at Tyler after they make love and says, “Oh, Tyler I want your abortion.” However, Laura Ziskin, a former Fox executive, insisted that Fincher should change it. The director agreed, but on the condition that he would only change the line.
After coming to an agreement, Ziskin immediately regretted it. The new line “I haven’t fooled around like that since grade school” made the executive beg the director to swap the original line back in, but he refused.
There’s A Starbuck Coffee Cup In Every Scene
There’s at least one Starbucks cup in every shot. Fincher was inspired by his previous film, The Game, where he managed to place a can of haggis in every scene. It was a touching tribute to his cinematographer, Harris “Haggis” Savides.
The addictive coffee company was okay with the idea and claimed to get the joke, but weren’t happen with one part. At the end of the movie a Starbucks cup is destroyed and globe crashes into a fake coffee shop.
One Jared Leto Scene Was Cut
When the movie introduces Leto’s character, Angel Face, Durden looks directly at him. While doing so, Tyler begins to talk about “rock stars”, an intentional or unintentional nod at Leto’s then year-old stint as the lead singer for 30 Seconds to Mars.
Later in the film, Angel Face gets a gruesome makeover during a fight, one that was so bad, the studio insisted it be cut. In the uncut version, Angel Face’s nose is split open down the center and it was so gross that the cast and crew avoided Leto.
The Narrator Has A Name
Much confusion exists about the name of Norton’s character. Many believe it’s Jack due to his use of the phrase “I am Jack’s,” but others argue that only uses the moniker after he saw it in “Annotated Reader.”
He is also Jack on the back of the DVD and in the booklet accompanying the DVD. The closed captions provided for the film have him named Rupert. On the DVD commentary, Norton reveals that he refers to the character as Jack.
The Blu-Ray Version Includes A Joke
On the original Fight Club DVD, a special message written by Tyler Durden appears after the regular privacy warning. But, on the tenth anniversary Blu-Ray version of the film, the menu for Drew Berrymore’s Never Been Kissed takes its place and last for 15 seconds.
Afterward, the film finally moves on. The joke was the director’s idea, with Barrymore signing off on the gag. It’s definitely safe to say that the director likes to have fun once in a while.
Why Support Groups?
If you’re confused as to why the narrator is attending supports groups at the beginning of the film, here is what he tells Marla, “when people think you’re dying, they really really listen to you…” Marla then adds “instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.”
The line is not only a powerful one, but it comes back into play at the end of the film. In the final minutes, the Narrator, with a gun under his chin, says, “Tyler, I want you to really listen to me.” To this, a now-somber Durden listens attentively and quietly. It’s likely because the Narrator is about to take himself out.
There Was Visual Power Shift
Throughout the movie, The Narrator fights Tyler Durden for control over his own body. To help visually create this struggle for audiences, the actors committed to opposing workout regimes. In an interview with the Yale Heard, Norton said that the goal was for him to look progressively weaker while Pitt became stronger.
“Brad made the decision to go the opposite way because Tyler is the way my character sees himself. Brad got progressively bigger throughout the movie, he bulked up and got huge and tan and beautiful while I became Gollum.”
Time Didn’t Pass Much
To clarify how the characters work, Tyler is awake when the narrator is asleep and vice versa. As Durden becomes more powerful, he takes over for longer stretches and accomplishes a lot more mayhem.
Besides this, it’s not known how much time passes in the film. That is, until the car accident when Norton’s character is left with a bloody gash on his head. The very next shot sees him in bed with the cut healing that night. The morning comes, and the Narrator wakes up with the cut gone and the assumption that at least two weeks have passed.
Both Men And Women Begged The Author For One Thing
Some secrets the author will take to the grave with him, no matter how much they bugged him at book signings. They weren’t looking for an autograph, but instead, they begged the author to tell them real locations for fight club.
Although he heard rumors of actual fight clubs existing in some areas of the United States, he wouldn’t give these passionate fans any useful information. He explained in the interview, “I’ll be like, ‘No, it’s made up; it’s fake’. It just breaks people’s hearts.”
During Interviews, Pitt And Norton Tried To Not Talk About Fight Club
When Premiere talked with Pitt and Norton, the two actively tried to avoid talking about Fight Club. They kept resisting, eventually telling interviewer Johanna Schnelle that they’re there to talk about it, but they don’t actually want to talk about the movie.
After the two actors go back and forth with Schnelle about whether they should discuss the film, Pitt challenged the writer. The actor said, “You tell us what Fight Club’s about.”
Rosie O’Donnell Played Spoiler On Her Show
When the film was released, Rosie O’Donnell made an announcement on her show. On her nationally televised show, she admitted to having been at a Fight Club advance screening a few days prior and wasn’t able to sleep.
Not only did the Flintstones actress implore her audience not to see the movie, but she played the role of spoiler. Brad Pitt was furious when he found out she gave away the big twist, calling the act “unforgivable.”
Pitt And Norton Asked To Smash A VW Beetle
During rehearsals, the actors found out they both hated the new Volkswagen Beetle. In the scene where their characters are hitting cars with baseball bats, Norton and Pit asked that one of the cars be a Beetle.
The co-stars felt that this type of corporate sell out was exactly what the film needed. As Norton explains on the DVD commentary, “It’s a perfect example of the Baby Boomer generation marketing its youth culture to us. It’s appalling to me. I hate it.”
Recurring Characters Continued Throughout The Movie
Since most recruitment occurs when Durden is in control, the audience rarely sees it take place. But, the film has a fascinating way of showing how effective the recruitment methods are. You might not have noticed, but many of the faces at the Fight Club are the people the Narrator and Durden meet on the streets.
Consider the long-haired man from the bus, who in the next scene is seen fighting. Even the priest who was sprayed with water shows up with his cross visible around his neck.
Bonham Carter Suffered From Bronchitis
While shooting the movie, Bonham Carter smoked real cigarettes. There’s smoking everywhere in Fight Club, as well as advertisements for brands, ash trays. and “No Smoking” signs. Smoking is such a prevalent theme, it’s almost its own character.
But, for Bonham Carter, the heavy inclusion of smoking took its toll on her body. At the end of the shoot, the actress gave the director an x-ray of her lungs. She gave it to Fincher after she got bronchitis during the six months of filming.
There Are Subtle Hints About Imaginary Friends
Rewatch the movie to look for signs that Durden and the Narrator were connected. Hints are littered through the movie, but there are a few many people still miss. Look again at the scene where both characters are on the bus, and a long-haired man walks in.
One of the most subtle scenes to hint that the Narrator and Durden are the same is when a tavern owner punches him in the stomach. At the same time Durden gets hit, Norton’s character leans forward himself.
The Director Wasn’t A Fan Of The Film’s Marketing Campaign
Fincher wanted a highly unique marketing campaign which could mirror the film’s theme of anti-commercialism. Worried about the possible backlash against the movie, Fox executives refused to go ahead with the director’s idea.
Instead, the campaign was built largely of the presence of Brad Pitt in the film and all the fighting. Fincher became upset that the ads focused so much on the violence and not the narrative. He especially wasn’t pleased when he saw ads for the film during WWE and UFC programming.
The Title Sequence Had Its Own Budget
Fincher paid $750,000 to create a different title sequence. It featured a CGI-mapped brain, specifically focusing on the Narrator’s fear and panic receptors. Instead, the pullback from the fear center of the Narrator’s brain was used
The camera then works outward until the audience sees the gun. When the Narrator says, “No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.” This is one of the most important concepts in Fight Club.
Palahniuk Released A Comic Book Meta-Sequel To His Novel
The author was convinced to continue Fight Club in comics. It takes place ten years after the events of the novel and is told through the eyes of Tyler Durden trapped in Sebastian’s subconscious.
He continues his dysfunctional relationship with Marla and falls into the mundane routine of society until Tyler re-emerges to cause chaos. On the Orbital In Conversation podcast, Palahniuk stated he was working on Fight Club 3, and planned to release it in ten issues starting in 2019.