Let’s Do The Time Warp Again! Freaky Facts Behind The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Based on the hit musical The Rocky Horror Show, the film adaptation premiered on August 14, 1975. The film version was going to be a flop at the box office, but then midnight showings continued to feature the movie. Its following would drastically grow and grow even more.

People didn’t just watch the movie, but they live it thanks to the elaborate costumes, props, and very vulgar audience participation. Over four decades later, it remains a cult classic. To celebrate the birth of the film and it’s following, here are some little-known facts you may not have known about the movie.

It All Started To Keep An Unemployed Actor Busy

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_de17a60c.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

When he wasn’t working as an actor, Richard O’Brien spent winter evenings pouring out his passion for science fiction and horror films. That would eventually become The Rocky Horror Show, and later, it would be renamed to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Eventually, O’Brien showed his work to director Jim Sharman while they were working on a play together. Impressed by what he saw, Sharman convinced London’s Royal theater to give the show a few weeks in the tiny Upstairs theater.

Columbia And Magenta Were Originally One Character

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_1264ef15.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

Sharman was hoping his good friend and pop star Marianne Faithfull would play Frank N. Furter’s female counterpart. However, Little Nell was already cast in the production.

Sharman and O’Brien would rework the role into two parts: Magenta and Columbia. When it came time to cast Magenta, Faithfull was already on tour in India and Patricia Quinn was eventually cast. Despite having almost no lines, she sang the lead song “Science Fiction/Double Feature.”

Richard O’Brien Wanted To Play Eddie

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_73983bbb.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

As soon as production started to unfold, O’Brien knew he wanted one thing. He wanted to co-star as the motorcycle-riding Eddie. Unfortunately, the role would be played by musician Meat Loaf.

Luckily, Sharman saw O’Brien in the role of the weird handyman Riff Raff. O’Brien respected and trusted his director to the point where he agreed to play the role. To think, if he played Eddie, Meat Loaf probably wouldn’t have been in other films down the road. Find out what the director told Tim Curry to do that shocked cast members!

Dr. Frank N. Furter Originally Had A German Accent

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_5yC3RO.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

Tim Curry took the cue from the characters name. The actor began the stage production by playing Frank N. Furter as German. Then suddenly, out of the blue, he heard a woman on a bus speaking with a posh accent.

Curry, then decided that he should sound like the Queen. It’s clear that he saw the making of the film as a serious business. Even people who haven’t seen the film yet would enjoy his accent.

“Science Fiction/Double Feature” Had A Different Singer

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_bee5a5b2.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

Patirica Quinn took the Magenta role just so she could sing “Science Fiction/Double Feature” on stage. But, when it came time to film the movie, it was decided that O’Brien should sing the song instead.

It was no surprise that Quinn wasn’t happy, but she did get an awesome consolation. The iconic lips that sing the song in the opening credits? Yeah, those red lips are hers and it remains a pivotal piece of the movie today.

The Reveal Of Eddie’s Body Genuinely Shocked The Cast

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_7fc7b41c.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

For the infamous dinner party scene, Furter reveals that his guests have been feasting on Eddie. Sharman only told Curry, who had to pull away the tablecloth to reveal Eddie’s corpse.

What a surprise of the scene that was! The rest of the cast was genuinely shocked by the reveal of the body. Not only was that their real reaction to the corpse, but the fact they didn’t break character altogether is really impressive. For the role of Magenta, Little Nell was cast based on one skill. Her special talent that landed her the role is just ahead!

The Director Agreed To A Smaller Budget In Order To Keep The Original Cast

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_65457544.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

20th Century Fox offered Sharman a reasonable budget, but only if he would cast “currently fashionable rock stars” for the lead roles of the film. On top of that, Sharman insisted to keep the original stage cast too.

With some exceptions, they added Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon to the cast. And, instead of a reasonable budget, they got a modest budget instead. Sharman called the decision to be crucial to the film’s cult success.

Much Of The Film’s Look Was Inspired By An Actual Rotting Mansion

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_ab7f1708.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

Set designer Brian Thomson kept hearing about “the old house” near Bray Studios, just outside of London. When Thomson saw the house, it was a 19th-century mansion called Oakley Court.

He would realize that it was exactly what they needed for the film because the owners left the mansion to rot. Thanks to its proximity to the studio, the house has appeared in numerous films. It has since been restored, and it’s now a hotel.

Little Nell Was Cast For Her Tap Dancing Skills

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_7479b4ce.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

“Little Nell” Campbell had an interesting audition. Before the tryout, she was working as a soda jerk in London. Sharman heard that she would perform tap dances while serving ice cream to kids.

At the time of the stage production, he would take some collaborators to see her. Campbell didn’t hesitate to dance for them at all as she won the role. Also, she sang the song “Do The Swim” too. Fun fact: Tim Curry called a theater in New York to ask to show the midnight screening. But, the employees didn’t think it was the actor. The story behind that is just ahead.

A Cardboard Model Was Used To Make The House Fly

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_7e1c456a.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

The technology wasn’t that advanced in the seventies. In the scene where Riff Raff and Magenta launch Furter’s house back to Transylvania, Thomson began constructing a model for the house.

In the end, there wasn’t enough time or money to produce a full-scale model of the house. So, a cardboard cutout was used instead. Later on, Thomson would point out that it’s pretty easy to see the real house in the background of the shot.

The Film’s Famous Audience Participation Was Inspired By Boredom

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_ZEQQ39.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

Once the film was released in 1975, it started out as a flop. Nonetheless, as midnight showings continued, the film developed a cult following. Movie-goers saw their chance to shout at the screen as the film played.

Thomson first witnessed this ordeal at New York’s Waverly Theater in 1977. Obviously, it seemed boring to sit there to watch the movie. So, yelling back at the movie during its pivotal moments seemed like a lot of fun.

Tim Curry Was Once Kicked Out Of A Screening For Being An “Impostor”

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_b75b706f.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

As the cult following grew, Curry was living in New York. He often saw fans dressed in costume, especially since he lived down the street from the Waverly Theater. Intrigued by this, he called the theater and told them who he was, then asked if he could attend.

Unfortunately, the theater didn’t believe him, until the night he showed up. While fans were pleased by Curry’s appearance, the theater staff still wasn’t convinced it was the actor. An usher grabbed him, tossed him out, then called him an impostor. Who was a fan of the movie? Hint — her sons are none other than Prince Harry and Prince William.

A Majority Of The Film Was Supposed To Be In Black And White

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_cbe9d703.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

While conceiving the film’s overall look, Sharman, Thomson, and company originally thought the film’s opening should be shot entirely in black and white. The first shot of color in the film would be Frank N. Furter’s red lips when he appeared on the elevator.

The idea was that Brad and Janet were living in a bland world, and when they first meet Furter, they would be shown something that’s much more colorful. The studio would unfortunately reject the idea altogether.

The Hit “The Time Warp” Was Written To Fill Up Space

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_39b45fad.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

According to Richard Hartley, the composer of the film, “Time Warp” was added during rehearsals because they needed a dance number in a musical. Plus, they had to pad it out as the play was only about 40 minutes.

The song would eventually evolve on the go, all within a three-week span. It has become a popular song beyond the reaches of the film and the show. It’s often played at dances, bar mitzvahs, and weddings,

Princess Diana Was A Fan

GettyImages-52105332.jpg

Photo Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Perhaps the most impressive fan of the cult-following class is none other than Princess Diana! While working on a theater performance of the play in Austria, Curry was informed that the former Princess of Wales wanted to meet him.

When they met, Diana was quick to tell the actor the film “completed her education.” Essentially, the movie made an impact on her life, as she is one of the many fans of the movie. A lot of people wanted to be in the movie, but a musician and a comedian were both rejected. Find out who wanted in on the movie shortly.

The Film Holds The Record For Longest Theatrical Release In Film History

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_054c348b.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

The film is considered to be the longest-running release in film history. It has never been pulled by 20th Century Fox from its original 1975 release.

Over the next four decades, the film would be transformed from a failed movie-musical to a cult-following phenomenon to rebellious coming-of-age ritual to mainstream icon. A big thanks should go out to the hardcore fans who flocked to its late-night showings since day one.

Susan Sarandon And Barry Bostwick Are The Only Americans In Lead Roles

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_2f912941.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

It’s true. Everyone else in the film is from other parts of the world. Sure, Meat Loaf had a minor role, but he is the only other American in the film. But, let’s look at the other actors and actresses from the film.

Curry, is from England whereas Sharman is from Australia. Thomson is also from Australia, while Quinn and Little Nell, who played Magenta and Columbia, are Irish and Australian.

Mick Jagger Wanted To Play Dr. Frank N. Furter

GettyImages-979136984.jpg

Photo Credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

The Rolling Stones frontman expressed an interest in playing the part of Dr. Frank N. Furter. However, the producers of the film passed up on the singer so they could cast Tim Curry.

The British actor defined the role in both the British and American theatrical productions. Jagger wasn’t the only one who wanted in on the movie. Steve Martin auditioned to play the role of Brad, but the part would go to Barry Bostwick.

Susan Sarandon Caught Pneumonia

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_65f950e9.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

During filming, the set had no heat or bathrooms at all. When Sarandon mentioned it to the studio heads, they believed the actress was complaining too much. However, she wasn’t complaining at all because she caught pneumonia after filming the pool scene.

Despite that, she apparently stills looks back on the production on a good note, and she’s amused by the movie’s continued success since it was released over 40 years ago.

The Film Was Added To The Library Of Congress’ National Film Registry

the-rocky-horror-picture-show_5958a28c.jpg

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

In 2005, on the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, it got some big recognition. Rocky Horror was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. It wasn’t the only film added to the Registry.

Movies such as The Sting, A Raisin In The Sun, and Toy Story were all included. It’s remarkable since it made it into the exclusive club long before a movie like Sophie’s Choice or The Coal Mine’s Daugther.