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 of the same name 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.
Despite the popularity, many people argue about the core message the film gives.
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
A lot of actresses were considered for the role of Marla Singers. 20th Century Fox wanted Winona Ryder, but it didn’t pan out. 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 role ended up going to Helena Bonham Carter.
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.
The author has mentioned that two of his friends are based on two characters in the movie. Read ahead to see who it is!
Pitt And Norton Took Classes To Prepare For The Movie
According to the DVD commentary featuring the two, the actors both 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
The author is quoted as saying that his friend Tyler is “one of those neo-romantic people who think if the Y2K bug happens, we’ll be better off.” The friend that provided inspiration for Marla apparently had a wish back before Palahniuk was an acclaimed author, which was to meet Brad Pitt.
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.
The musician who’s known for Bat Out Of Hell had to wear 100 pounds worth of bird seed for a particular reason.
CGI Effects From An Oscar-Winning Movie Were Used For A Scene
Titanic won 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. But, some effects in the movie were used for Fincher’s film, like in the scene where Norton’s character, at the behest of a support group leader, imagines himself in an ice cave.
His foggy breath is partly recycled from the breath effects that were used in James Cameron’s blockbuster hit. Plus, visual effects artists ended up remixing the cloudy puffs of air to work for the dream-like sequence.
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.
Plus, he makes appearances at the testicular cancer support group meeting as well as behind The Narrator when he sees Marla leaving the meeting. The other time he appears is when he’s the waiter on the far right in the presentation video of the hotel The Narrator checks into.
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. But, on top of that, he had to wear a fat suit that was filled with over 100 pounds worth of bird seed so it resembled sagging flesh.
Despite this, Bob fought Norton’s character with a shirt on, a violation of Fight Club’s sixth rule, “No shirts, no shoes.” Meat Loaf was a good sport throughout the process, giving Norton a framed photo of the actor’s face pressed against his chest.
Director David Fincher put in an Easter Egg for the movie. Read ahead to see what he did.
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.
The frontman of 30 Seconds to Mars had one of his scenes cut for a gruesome reason.
One Controversial Line Was Changed To A More Controversial One
In Palahniuk’s book, Marla’s post-coital words to Tyler were this “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 barista company was okay with the idea and claimed to get the joke, with one exception — the scene at the end of the film where a coffee cup gets completely destroyed. As a result, the giant globe crashes into a fictitious shop called “Gratifico Coffee.”
Jared Leto’s Original Beating Had To Be 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.
What’s up with the support groups? Marla and The Narrator have details behind that just ahead.
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. On the other hand, in the closed captions for the movie, he is referred to as Rupert. But, 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, following the standard of privacy warnings, a one-second-long subversive message from Tyler Durden appears. But, on the tenth anniversary Blu-Ray version of the film, the menu for Drew Berrymore’s Never Been Kissed appears for a good 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?
Near the beginning of the film, the Narrator reveals to Marla why he attends support groups. He explains, “when people think you’re dying, they really really listen to you…” Marla 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.
Read ahead to see the one thing men and women wanted from the author.
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
When The Narrator goes to sleep, he becomes Durden as this is the basic division between the characters. As Durden becomes more powerful, he takes over for longer stretches based on the number of things he accomplishes.
But, there is little known about how much time takes place, up until the car accident when Norton’s character is pulled from the wreckage, with a bloody gash on his head. In the next shot, he is in bed, the wound healing but still visible. 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
Palahniuk told Premiere Magazine in 1999 that people would come up to 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.”
Pitt and Norton wanted to smash a particular car for good reasons.
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. She gave away the big twist, an act that Brad Pitt later said was “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, both Pitt and Norton insisted 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. Despite audiences not recognizing it, several of the men the Narrator and Durden encounter on the streets show up at Fight Club later on.
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
There are plenty of consumer pressures placed throughout the movie. Smoking even fits the bill too since there’s smoking everywhere in Fight Club. Not just cigarettes either, but “No Smoking” signs as well as ashtrays too.
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. There are several subtle hints to pick up on, 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.
After pushing through Durden without acknowledging him, he excuses himself to pass the Narrator. But, best of all, there’s the scene where Durden’s punched in the stomach by the tavern owner and the Narrator leans forward as if feeling the blow.
Has Chuck bothered writing a sequel? Read ahead to see if he did.
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. It was criticized for giving the impression that the film was about men beating each other up, ignoring the satiric elements of the narrative. Fincher wasn’t pleased when she saw ads for the film during WWE and UFC programming.
The Title Sequence Had Its Own Budget
The film’s title sequence is a pullback from the fear center of the Narrator’s brain. Interestingly enough, 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.
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. Set ten years after the ending of the novel, the sequel is told from the restrained perspective of Tyler Durden as he sits in the subconscious of Sebastian.
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, consisting of ten issues, with the first one being released in 2019.