46 Iconic Moments and Photos From Behind The Scenes
Wilt Chamberlain and Andre The Giant towering over Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of “Conan the Destroyer.”
Movie magic produces the wonder of superheroes and awe of the impossible. However, none of films’ astonishing spectacles would be possible without the incredibly creative minds that work “below the line.” Here’s a sneak peek into how the sausage gets made by Hollywood’s finest.
Filming of Conan The Destroyer took place in Mexico City to save costs but the bars of Mexico's capital rejoiced. Reportedly, Arnold, Andre, and Chamberlain would go out on the town and drink entire taverns dry. According to Schwarzenegger after a round of 12, his compatriots would see who could pick him up more easily and toss him around like a child’s toy.
Director John Huston captivated Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and Pelé while filming “Victory,” 1981.
Some truly legendary soccer players participated in Victory like Pelé, Bobby Moore, Mike Summerbee, and Sylvester Stallone…? Obviously, one name in that list doesn’t fit and Stallone made that painfully clear when he lobbed to score the game winning goal as the goalie. Apparently, it had to be repeatedly explained to Sly that a goalie would likely never score and certainly a game deciding goal. But hey, Rocky used his hands not his feet.
Alfred Hitchcock serving Grace Kelly tea on the set of "To Catch a Thief," 1955.
To Catch a Thief film marked the third time Kelly worked with Hitchcock after Dial M for Murder and Rear Window both the year prior. It’s no wonder the legendary filmmaker was going the extra mile for his star. The smoldering chemistry between Kelly and co-star Cary Grant helped the film receive three Academy Award nominations along with a win for Best Cinematography.
Mike Fulmer and Tom St. Amand worked their magic on Steven Spielberg's “E.T.”
Behind the scenes of Star Trek.
Everyone should recognize William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as the iconic Captain Kirk with his trusty first mate Spock. Although, only true Trekkies will be able to name the rest of those pictured here. Despite the seemingly endless legions of Star Trek fans, the show never scored high ratings during its original 3 season run. However, 13 feature films and a cadre of additional series proved Star Trek’s staying power.
Paul Dano and Matt Reeves on the set of “The Batman,” 2022.
Many Batmans have come and gone but the people continue to show out in droves for the caped crusader. Director Mat Reeves credits Nirvana for shaping the film. He explained:
When I write, I listen to music, and as I was writing the first act, I put on Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way.’ … That’s when it came to me that, rather than make Bruce Wayne the playboy version we’ve seen before, there’s another version who had gone through a great tragedy and become a recluse.
Elliott Page and Leonardo DiCaprio take cover during filming of “Inception”, 2010.
Inception served as Director Christopher Nolan’s wildly cinematic representation of filmmaking. Every character represents a vital part of that process: Joseph Gordon-Levitt represents a producer, Elliot Paige a production designer, Tom Hardy an actor, Cillian Murphy the audience, and Leonardo DiCaprio the director. As Nolan said:
It’s rare that you can identify yourself so clearly in a film.
The debut of “Monday Night Football”
On the historic day of September 21, 1970, Don Meredith, Roone Arledge, Howard Cosell, and Keith Jackson gathered to make history. The New York Jets took on the Cleveland Browns on that Monday Night to the delight of millions of football fans. Joe Namath threw three interceptions and the Browns took the win 31-21. Prior to that night the football only came on Sundays just like church.
James Cameron & James Remar on the set of “Aliens”, 1985.
Some may be wondering if they erred in remembering James Remar in the classic sci-fi horror sequel Aliens. Nope, you’re not crazy. Remar was, in fact, replaced by Michael Biehan after London police raided Remar’s apartment and found hashish and heroin. Back then you got fired rather than sent to rehab. Remar expressed regret over “screwing over so many people” due to his substance abuse issues.
Hayden Christensen going to the dark side on the set of “Revenge of the Sith”, 2005.
In the third installment of the Star Wars Prequel trilogy, our beloved Anakin Skywalker was transformed into Darth Vader. Before he donned the iconic helmet, Christensen showed off the power of the dark side with yellow-tinted contact lenses. Ironically, the actor developed a close relationship with Ian McDiarmid who played Skywalker's evil mentor. As he said:
Working with Ian was a treat and a privilege. Everyone knows he's such an amazing actor, but he's also an incredibly generous actor.
Michael Mann working with Daniel Day-Lewis and Steve Waddington on "The Last of the Mohicans,” 1991.
The working marriage of Daniel Day-Lewis and Michael Mann combined the obsessive nature of Hollywood’s two biggest workaholics. Apparently, Lewis prepared for his role by living in the woods with colonial-era equipment. And Mann supposedly shouted "What's that orange light? Turn out that orange light!" in response to the sun rising.
Director Jonathan Demme worked with Jodie Foster, Chuck Aber, and Tracey Walter on “The Silence of the Lambs,” 1991.
Ironically, Silence of the Lambs was released on Valentine’s Day of 1991. After all, what says a romantic date movie like one serial killer who eats people, helping catch another serial killer who aspired to make suits out of people’s skin? Despite the odd timing, the film still became one of only three films ever to sweep the major Academy Awards categories of Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay.
Behind the scenes shots of “Shaun of the Dead” taken by Nick Frost’s stand-in Paul John Bayfield.
If you ever wanted to see a zombie movie that wasn’t ‘cool’ or “terrifying”, Shaun of the Dead will fulfill that precise desire. Originally titled “Tea Time of the Dead,” creators Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright delivered a zombie movie that will break your funny bone. Although, one death that occurred inspired real tears from Pegg and co-star Nick Frost.
Rehearsal for "The Milton Berle Show" with Elvis, Debra Paget, and Milton Berle, 1956.
On this historic show, Elvis went from being an up-and-comer with his hits peaking on the Country and Western charts to the King of Rock and Roll. While this did not mark his first time on the show, it was the first time Elvis ditched the guitar and rocked his famous pelvis while firing off a blisteringly scandalous performance of “Hound Dog.”
Spider-Man flees the Green Goblin on the Set of 2002’s "Spider-Man."
Even when adjusted for inflation, this rendition of Spider-Man became the first film to gross $100 million on opening weekend alone. Perhaps even more astonishing, William Dafoe who played the Green Goblin reportedly performed 90% of his own stunts. No word if that’s actually him amid the chaos. Tobey Maguire also worked out six days a week while shoving down 4-6 high protein meals a day to play the web-slinger.
Russel Crowe filming the final battle sequence of Robin Hood, 2010.
Before taking this job, director Ridley Scott said he thought the only good Robin Hood was Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Unfortunately, Scott failed to break that trend as a planned sequel for his film was canceled due to poor box office numbers. People claimed that Crowe, then 45, was too old to play Locksley. Crowe also walked out of an interview with BBC’s Mark Lawson when asked about his accent in the film.
The Plymouth Voyager during filming for Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” 2005.
Known trickster Spielberg reportedly blessed the theme music to Jaws during the underwater scenes as a prank on Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. One imagines that even a veteran actor like Cruise had a momentary heart attack, “Duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun…” However, it sounds like filming wasn't all fun and games. Supposedly Spielberg said he would never work with Cruise again due to his Scientology related antics.
Harrison Ford testing his aim on the set of “Blade Runner” photos on set, 1981.
The original Blade Runner remains a landmark sci-fi film that inspired countless imitators. Ironically, the two most important people involved, director Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford, disagree on a critical point, if Rick Dekard was human. As Ford said:
I thought it was important that the audience be able to have a human representative on screen, somebody that they could have an emotional understanding of. Ridley didn’t think that was all that important.
Christian Bale getting his Batman on during the filming of “The Dark Knight,” 2008.
The Dark Knight became the first narrative film ever to use IMAX cameras to achieve its mind-boggling and it remains a landmark achievement in cinema. The astounding film looks and feels vastly different from most movies. That incredibly close attention to detail was epitomized in Christian Bale’s Batmobile. Apparently, while filming in Chicago, an exceedingly drunk driver actually rammed into it, thinking it was an alien spacecraft!
Director Martin Campbell shows Antonio Banderas the finer points of swordplay on the set of “The Mask of Zorro,” 1997.
In order to properly portray the sword swinging whiz of Zorro, Banderas trained with the Spanish Olympic team and legendary trainer Bob Anderson. According to director Martin Campbell:
We used to call him Grumpy Bob on the set, he was such a perfectionist… He also refused to treat any of the actors as stars.
How to make an underground eating worm for “Tremors 2- Aftershocks,” 1996.
Some movie ideas are so ridiculous they actually work. No tagline better describes the bizarre success that Tremors became. As co-writer S.S. Wilson said:
I had a job working as an editor at a Navy base in the middle of the Mojave Desert. On weekends, when they weren’t shooting at the gunnery ranges, I was allowed to go hiking out there. One day, while climbing over large boulders, I had a thought. ‘What if something was under the ground and I couldn’t get off this rock?’
James Arness filming on location for Gunsmoke, 1957.
Based on the popular radio show Gun Law, Gunsmoke thrilled western fans for an amazing 20 seasons. That lengthy run ranks as the second longest running series in history. It also claimed five Emmys in that stretch. The show started as a half hour before switching to an hour due to its unrelenting popularity. Fans enjoyed a cavalcade of guest stars like the entire cast of Star Trek and Cindy from the Brandy Bunch.
Will Smith receiving an alien birth on the set of “Men in Black,” 1997.
The original action buddy comedy involving aliens, Men in Black also holds the record for highest grossing buddy comedy. With a $250 million gross the stylish protectors of Earth outearned Chris Trucker and Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour 2. Will Smith also rapped his way into a Grammy Award for "Men in Black" single that went #1 in several countries.
Micheal Keaton with Tim Burton on the set of “Batman,” 1989.
Ironically, neither Burton nor Keaton were the studio’s first choices. Warner Bros. considered Gremlin’s director Joe Dante and Ghostbusters’ Ivan Reitman before going with Burton. Of course, without Burton there would have assuredly been a different caped crusader. The studio tried out Mel Gibson, Kevin Coster, Willem Dafoe, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, Charlie Sheen, and even Bill Murray (what!?) before Burton put his foot down in favor of Keaton.
Warwick Davis getting some final instruction in how to terrify kids in “Leprechaun,” 1993.
Undoubtedly, the most incredible aspect of Leprechaun was that Jennifer Aniston made her movie debut as a shotgun toting teenager. Watching it today, it’s difficult not to think of her as young Rachel from Friends, fending off a demonic version of the Lucky Charms mascot. Crazily, the director actually got his from an actual Lucky Charms commercial.
David Fincher, Jodie Foster, and Kristen Stewart collaborate on the set of “Panic Room,” 2001.
Fincher assumed Panic Room with its single set, would be an easy shoot coming off the arduous filming of Fight Club that featured 400 scenes in over 100 different locations. Unfortunately, things fell apart rather quickly. First, Nicole Kidman had to drop out due to an injury after a few weeks shooting. Then Fincher fired his cinematographer over creative differences. And just when things got moving, they had to pause filming when Jodie Foster found out she was pregnant.
Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of “The Terminator,” 1983.
It sounds like satire but creator and director James Cameron came up with the idea of The Terminator while filming Piranha II: The Spawning in Rome. Apparently, he had a dream where a solid chrome torso crawled toward him menacingly. How one goes from directing a terrible budget horror movie to creating a billion dollar franchise seems almost more improbable than robots traveling through time to kill the future leader of the free world.
Behind the scenes hijinx with Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz on the set of “The Mask,” 1994.
The Mask was a pretty weird film but not nearly as weird as it could have been. It was originally planned as a horror film in which a “mask maker” would take the faces off corpses to put on teenagers that would then turn them into zombies. In an odd twist, horror director Chuck Russell, who worked on Nightmare on Elm Street and The Blob, elected to go in a much lighter direction.
Behind the scenes of "Logan's Run," 1976.
Based on the book of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, Logan's Run took home a Special Academy Award for visual effects along with six Saturn Awards, including Best Science Fiction Film. Michael York was talked into the film by his driver. As York said:
He came to pick me up the next day practically wagging a finger at me saying ‘You’ve got to do this—you may not be aware of it, but it’s pressing a lot of buttons.' And he was absolutely right.
A Jeff Bridges selfie with Sam Elliot on the set of “The Big Lebowski,” 1998.
“Obviously, you are not a golfer,” and “Smokey, this is not Vietnam, this is bowling. There are rules” rank among the greatest lines in cinema history. And as co-creator/director Joel Cohen put it:
The plot is sort of secondary to the other things that are sort of going on in the piece. I think that if people get a little confused it’s not necessarily going to get in the way of them enjoying the movie.
Behind the scenes of "Jason Takes Manhattan," 1989.
Writer/director Rob Hedden planned to incorporate the City to its fullest extent. He said:
There was going to be a tremendous scene on the Brooklyn Bridge. A boxing match in Madison Square Garden. Jason would go through department stores. He’d go through Times Square. He’d go into a Broadway play. He’d even crawl onto the top of the Statue of Liberty and dive off.
Unfortunately, the low budget horror flick couldn’t afford any one of those ideas so Jason didn’t end up spending much time in Manhattan after all.
Movie magic with James Cameron on “True Lies,” 1994.
Ever wonder how movies realistically destroy entire cities using everything from aliens to asteroids? Today CGI often provides the answer but nearly as often, practical effects like miniaturization do. Obviously, back in the ‘90s directors and cinematographers had to get really creative. Although, a $100 million budget, the first of its kind for True Lies probably didn’t hurt either. Despite that massive budget Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly died when a horse reared near a 90-foot drop!
Roger Moore worked his James Bond charms behind the scenes of “Live And Let Die,” 1973.
When Sean Connery rejected the offer to return as Bond on Live And Let Die, producers realized their back up plan of American John Gavin wouldn’t work. Despite still paying Gavin in full, producers went on the hunt for a better Bond. They considered Julian Glover, Jeremy Brett, Simon Oates, John Ronane, William Gaunt, and Michael Billington before deciding on Roger Moore.
Martial arts god Bruce Lee chatted with producer Fred Weintraub on the set of “Enter the Dragon,” 1973.
In the late ‘60s Bruce Lee worked as a martial arts instructor with hopes of breaking into acting after appearances in The Green Hornet and Ironside. When producers declined over fears that American audiences wouldn’t connect to a non-American, Lee accepted an offer from Hong Kong’s Raymond Chow. Apparently, Lee taught some rowdy extras lessons in respect by drawing blood when they challenged his prowess.
Remember when E.T. explored the world with a sheet over his head on Halloween? Here’s what it looked like behind the scenes.
Spielberg’s movie-making genius was on full display for the iconic E.T. Besides shooting through a sheet with holes in it, the imaginative director also shot many of his shots at the eye level of a child to further connect the alien with his youthful human counterparts.
Behind the scenes of “Halloween,” 2018.
At the time of its release, the eleventh rendition of Halloween scored many firsts. It became the biggest horror movie opening with a female, grossing $76 million, the biggest horror movie opening with a female over 55, and the biggest opening of any Halloween ever. It went on to gross $255 million worldwide and lived up to the original, according to star Jamie Lee Curtis. Pretty impressive considering filming took just 28 days.
Tim Burton taught Johnny Depp the nuances of having scissor hands on the set of ”Edward Scissorhands.”
Since Tim Burton seemingly only wants to work with Johnny Depp these days, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t the first choice. However, Tom Hanks and Gary Oldman both turned down the part while William Hurt, Robert Downey Jr., and Jim Carrey were also considered. 20th Century Fox even forced Burton to meet with Tom Cruise. As the director said:
He certainly wasn’t my ideal, but I talked to him. He was interesting, but I think it worked out for the best.
Behind the scenes with the scariest twin girls in movie history on the set of “The Shining.”
Kubrick made The Shining despite not having read Steven King’s own screenplay of his novel. Apparently, Kubrick described King’s writing as “weak” but did still ask the author an existential question. According to King, Kubrick called him one morning with the belief that ghost stories are optimistic since the existence of ghosts proved that humans survived beyond death. King responded with a question of how Hell fit into that picture to which the director said, “I don’t believe in Hell.”
Leonardo DiCaprio, James Cameron, and Kate Winslet on the set of Titanic, 1997.
It’s impossible to imagine Titanic with any other actors but DiCaprio and Winslet weren’t the first choices. Apparently, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matthew McConaughey were considered. Director James Cameron remained silent about that possibility, sort of, saying:
I will neither confirm nor deny. I just don't think that's cool to talk about actors that either chose not to do it, or were unavailable, or stupidly decided that there wasn't enough meat on the bone of the character, or whatever it was.
On the set of “The Godfather” with Francis Ford Coppola, 1972.
Despite being considered one of the greatest films ever made, Coppola was on the verge of being fired during filming. He was actually their 5th choice after Elia Kazan, Arthur Penn, Richard Brooks, and Costa-Gavras turned down the job. Paramount Pictures executives found Coppola’s film boring, wanted more action, and even went as far as hiring a stand-in director after weeks of filming.
Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix shared a laugh on the set of “Gladiator,” 2000.
According to Screenwriter David Franzoni, Steven Spielberg asked three simple questions before greenlighting Gladiator for his studio Dreamworks. The exchange went as follows:
My gladiator movie, it was about ancient Roman gladiators—not American, Japanese, whatever else? Yes, I said. Taking place in the ancient Coliseum? Yes. Fighting with swords and animals to the death and such? Yes. Great, let's make the movie.
Henry Cavil during a screen test/costume fitting for “Man of Steel,” 2013.
This screen test wasn’t the first for Cavill. Reportedly, the actor failed to score the superhuman role for Superman Returns but never gave up on playing Superman. Ironically, Ben Affleck was given the opportunity to direct coming off his Oscar win for Argo but turned it down due to his lack of experience with special effects. Of course, Affleck would go on to star in the sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with Cavill.
Steve Martin and John Candy on the set of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” 1987.
Iconic director John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles served as his first film that didn’t center on teenagers. Apparently, his inspiration came from his own hellish travel experience attempting to get from Chicago to New York. First, his flight was canceled so he stayed in a hotel. The next day it was diverted to Denver, then Phoenix before finally arriving in NYC on Monday rather than the Wednesday before.
Behind the scenes with Andre the Giant, stunt coordinator Peter Diamond and a very padded-up stunt double for “The Princess Bride,” 1987.
Undoubtedly, the most mythical part of filming The Princess Bride was Andre the Giant. Word was that three bottles of cognac and 12 bottles of wine would make the massive wrestler just a bit tipsy. And according to Robin Wright, Andre would devour four appetizers and five entrees for dinner. His go-to drink was 40 ounces of beer mixed with various liquors he called “The American.”
Johnny Depp covered in “blood” for “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
For his movie debut, Depp experienced fear inspired by director Wes Craven’s own childhood. Apparently, “Freddy” was the name of a bully who terrorized Craven and his hat came from a rather stylish neighhood drunk who terrified him in his youth. The director also wanted to differentiate Freddy by giving him knife-like cat claws rather than just a knife like Jason Voorhees.
Two wizards enjoying a lift on the set of “The Lord of the Rings, 2001.”
Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee were respectively 83 and 93 during the filming for Lord Of The Rings film. So it’s no surprise that the pair enjoyed the luxuries of befitting actors of their standing, such as the golf cart to help two of the most powerful wizards in Middle Earth. Incredibly Sean Connery was almost cast as Gandolf but as he said:
I never understood it. I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t understand it… I would be interested in doing something that I didn’t fully understand, but not for 18 months.