When Fight Club came to the theaters in 1999, it was a disappointment financially. Poor marketing was to blame as people felt that this was yet another movie about men fighting each other. But the DVD did quite well and sold over a million copies. Today, this movie has a tremendous cult following, but we bet there are still some things that you didn’t know about Fight Club. Thanks to IMDB, we bring to you 23 lesser-known facts about Fight Club.
1. The movie is based on a novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, and he came up with the idea when he was beaten up on a weekend camping trip. When he returned, none of his colleagues acknowledged his injuries, and this societal reluctance became the foundation of the novel.
Fight Club is originally a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Palahniuk was inspired to write the novel after he had an altercation at a weekend camping trip. He was beaten badly when he complained about the sound of the radio of some nearby campers.
When Palahniuk returned to his office, he was surprised to see that his colleagues were only interested in knowing how his trip was, and they completely ignored his bruises. The “don’t-care-about-your-personal-life” attitude that people displayed inspired Palahniuk to jot down Fight Club.
Palahniuk joined a writing group in Portland that practiced a type of writing called “dangerous writing.” This type of writing was developed by Tom Spanbauer, an American author, and involves the usage of one’s personal and painful experiences to gather inspiration. He produced his first draft which later became the novel Invisible Monsters but faced rejection from publishers because they thought it was too dark. He then set out to write an even darker novel expanding his short story Fight Club. Fight Club was originally a seven-page short story. Finally, Fight Club: A Novel was published in 1996.(source)
2. Sean Penn and Matt Damon almost got the role of the narrator which was ultimately played by Edward Norton.
When 20th century Fox set out in search of an actor for the role of the narrator, they wanted a “sexier marquee name” so that the film would do good commercially. Hence, they considered names like Matt Damon and Sean Penn. But the director of Fight Club, David Fincher, had his eyes on Edward Norton because of his amazing performance in the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). At that time Norton was also being eyed by other studios for films like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Man on the Moon. So Fincher went ahead and offered the role to Norton. Initially, Norton was unable to accept because he had a contract with Paramount Pictures, but things worked out and Norton was cast in the movie.(source)
3. Brad Pitt’s salary was almost seven times higher than his co-star Edward Norton.
Initially, Russell Crowe was sought for the role of Tyler Durden by producer Ross Bell. At the same time another producer, Art Linson, met with Brad Pitt regarding the same role. As Linson was senior among the two producers, the studio agreed to cast Pitt instead of Crowe. Pitt was on the lookout for a new film after his 1998 flop Meet Joe Black, and the studio also believed that Fight Club would do better commercially if they cast a major star. Hence, they sealed the deal with Pitt for $17.5 million.
David Fincher, the director, selected Edward Norton for his role because of his brilliant performances in the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). Other studios were also after Norton for movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley, but 20th-century Fox sealed the deal with Norton for $2.5 million.(source)
4. Brad Pitt volunteered to remove pieces of his front teeth during the filming of the movie.
Brad Pitt has been known to glam down his perfect looks as part of his Method Acting strategy in order to perfectly portray a character. He did the same with Fight Club. To get the rugged look of a fighter, he volunteered to get few pieces chipped from his front teeth. He restored them once the filming was over.(source)
5. Edward Norton cracked his thumb hitting Brad Pitt during shooting because Pitt’s stomach was really hard at that time.
In an interview with Premiere magazine, Edward Norton jokingly recalled how sometimes they needed to actually hit each other during shooting as not all actions could be faked.He also recalled how he broke his thumb while hitting Brad Pitt on his stomach. The actors further added that “We both caught knees in the chest. Cracked ribs. Just had the wind knocked out of us.”(source)
6. Helena Bonham Carter’s makeup for the role of Marla was done by the makeup artist with her left hand on Carter’s suggestion. Carter believed that her character, Marla, wouldn’t really care about putting her makeup right.
Helena Bonham Carter is famous for the myriad of eccentric characters that she portrays on the screen. She is most often seen in dark roles. While many actors shy away from dark roles as they believe it would harm their future roles, things are the opposite with Carter. She has taken up numerous dark roles over the years and has owned each and every one of them. She has portrayed villains, murderers, and psychologically unstable characters, and each role she portrayed was full of conviction.
The reason she is so convincing in her roles is that she is very keen on attention to details. During the filming of the movie Fight Club, she urged the makeup artist, Julie Pearce, to apply all her eye makeup with her left hand. This is because Carter felt that Marla, the character she was portraying in Fight Club, would not be very worried about applying her makeup correctly, let alone be skilled at it.(source)
7. Tyler Durden appears in the movie five times before he is formally introduced. Four of the times he just appeared in flashes, and the fifth time was in the “welcome” video of the hotel where the narrator was residing.
If you have watched the movie multiple times, you might have noticed Tyler Durden flashing on your screen even before he was formally introduced in the movie. The first four instances happen respectively: at the photocopier at the narrator’s workplace, in the corridor when the narrator is talking to the doctor, at the testicular cancer meeting, and when the narrator is staring at Marla leaving the meeting.
The fifth time he appears, it is in the “welcome” video of the hotel the narrator was staying at. Observe the guy in the extreme right of the first row – that’s Tyler Durden!
8. The sex scene between Tyler and Marla was done with CGI, and the actors spent three days recording orgasmic sounds.
Fight Club has a scene in which the narrator was unable to sleep because of the heated sex between the characters Tyler Durden and Marla. For those unseen sex scenes, both Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter had to spend three days to record the orgasmic sounds, and that’s not all. For the sex scene between Tyler and Marla, CGI was brought in to create the effects. The sex positions were picked up from the Kama Sutra as normal pornography positions were found to be too mainstream by the cast of the movie.
9. There is a Starbucks cup in almost every scene of the movie.
Director David Fincher revealed in an interview that in his 1999 classic, Fight Club, there is a Starbucks cup in almost every scene. When asked why, he said that when he first moved to New York in 1984, it was very difficult to find decent coffee. Then came Starbucks. When Fincher presented the script to Starbucks, they agreed on having some fun by allowing Fincher to put Starbucks references throughout the movie. The only scene they didn’t agree to was putting their name on the coffee shop that gets destroyed.(source)
10. In the cave scene, the visible breath might be a recycled version of Leonardo DiCaprio’s breath from Titanic.
There’s a scene in the movie where the narrator goes into a cave and tries to kiss Marla who blows smoke into his mouth. Also in that scene, there’s a lot of icy breaths from the narrator. It is believed by many that there’s a chance the narrator’s breath might belong to Leonardo DiCaprio from the movie Titanic. What led people to believe this was that Blue Sky Studios, the company responsible for CGI effects in the movie, had past associations with VIFX, the company that worked on Titanic. VIFX has earlier quoted that they have a “library of generic breath elements created for Titanic” to be used for further projects.
Moreover, in an interview, John Siczewicz, digital artist for Fight Club, is quoted as saying: “After starting with those existing breath elements (from Titanic) we cut and pasted and dissolved until we had some animated breath that worked with the wind action within this ice tunnel. Since either the camera or the actor was in motion for all of these shots, I had to track in the origin point for each breath. Once these swirly breaths blended in, the whole scene dropped sixty degrees.”(source)
11. After the narrator meets Tyler, he calls him from a pay phone. Tyler doesn’t answer but calls back. The camera zooms in to show the payphone which has a message that “no incoming calls allowed,” thus offering a subtle hint that Tyler isn’t real.
This is a subtle clue at the beginning of the movie that Tyler isn’t real. After the narrator’s condo blows up and burns to the ground, he calls up Tyler. He calls from a payphone just outside his condo. But Tyler doesn’t pick up at that time. A few seconds later, the narrator gets a call back from Tyler on the same pay phone. As the phone rings and the narrator goes forward to answer it, the camera zooms in on a sentence written on the payphone. The sentence is “No incoming calls accepted.” This means that it would be impossible for the narrator to have received that call from Tyler, and hence, Tyler is not real! If you have missed this the first time you watched the movie, go ahead and watch it again!
That is not the only clue that the movie offers. In another scene where the narrator and Tyler both get on the bus, there is another subtle clue. A long-haired guy enters the bus and walks past both of them. When he walks past Tyler, he just pushes ahead without any word. But when he pushes past the narrator, he says “excuse me.” This is another hint that most of us miss the first few times we watch Fight Club hinting to us that Tyler Durden is not real.(1,2)
12. Marla Singer’s phone number is same as the phone number of Teddy in the movie Memento. It is also same to the phone number of the Hong Kong Restaurant in Harriet The Spy, the phone number of Eddie Alden in the movie Someone Like You, and also the phone number for a mental institution in one of the episodes of Millenium.
Looks like the number has been used quite a lot in Hollywood!(source)
13. Brad Pitt’s reaction “He hit me in the ear!” was genuine. Ed Norton was scripted to fake hit him, but the director secretly changed it at the last moment.
In the scene when Tyler Durden asks the narrator to hit him, he actually hit him hard. In the original script, the narrator was supposed to fake hit Tyler on the shoulder. But just before the scene was shot, director David Fincher summoned Ed Norton to the side and told him, “Hit him a bit harder than he’s expecting.” Norton obliged and hit Brad Pitt hard and on the ear. Brad Pitt had no idea this was going to happen, and his reaction “He hit me in the ear!” was entirely genuine.(source)
14. In the “pillow talk” scene, Marla’s line, “I haven’t been f*ck*d like that since grade school” was originally supposed to be “I want to have your abortion.”
After Tyler and Marla had sex, she says to him, “I haven’t been f*ck*d like that since grade school.” This line was originally supposed to be “I want to have your abortion.” What happened was Fox studio executive Laura Ziskin was appalled by the abortion line. She asked the director, David Fincher, to change it to something more acceptable and appropriate.
Fincher agreed to this but made a pact with Laura that he will change the line only on one condition – that it will not get changed again. Laura agreed to it as she didn’t imagine that the line could get any worse. But Fincher came up with an equally controversial and appealing line and Laura couldn’t do anything as she had to honor the pact made with Fincher.(source)
15. Bob’s fat suit weighed more than 100 pounds. Moreover, to make the sagging flesh look more convincing, the suit was filled with birdseed.
That’s true! To play the part of Robert “Big Bob” Paulson, Meat Loaf had to wear a 100-pound fat suit. The suit was filled with rice and birdseed so that the sagging flesh would look more real. The suit also featured two breasts that wobbled convincingly under Bob’s t-shirt.(source)
16. While giving a speech at one of the Fight Club meetings, Tyler looks directly at Jared Leto’s character when he mentions rockstars. Jared Leto is the founder of the now platinum-selling band 30 Seconds To Mars.
In a scene, Tyler gives an inspirational speech to the people present at one of the Fight Club meetings. He says, “We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars.”
When he says the line about rockstars, he looks directly at the character played by Jared Leto. Just one year prior to the release of Fight Club, Jared Leto founded the now famous band 30 Seconds To Mars.(source)
17. When a Fight Club member sprays the priest with a hose, the camera shakes briefly. This is because the cameraman couldn’t stop himself from laughing.
If you watch the clip above with concentration, you will see that there’s a tiny shake when the Fight Club member sprays water on the priest. Well, the reason is during the filming of the scene, the cameraman couldn’t control his laughter!(source)
18. The scene where Norton is grinning at the board meeting and blood fills his mouth was actually an accidental shot.
There is a scene in the movie where the narrator is sitting at a board meeting on a Monday morning. When he opens his mouth, there is blood all around his mouth and his colleagues are horrified. This close-up shot of the narrator happened between takes. The director David Fincher asked Norton to show him how much blood was there in his mouth. Norton looked at the director and opened his mouth. The cameras were rolling at that time and captured this moment. Fincher liked it and put this accidental shot in the movie.(source)
19. When the narrator is sitting at work writing Haiku poems, the names on the document on his screen are the names of the production assistants and crew members that worked in the movie.
In the scene where the narrator is writing Haiku poems and says that he had been mailing them to his colleagues, there is an email list open on his screen. The names on the list are actually the names of the crew members and production assistants.(source)
20. All the buildings that blow up at the end are real buildings that have been altered by using CGI effects.
At the end of the movie, the narrator and Marla stand together and look through the glass at the crumbling buildings outside. That scene, of course, isn’t real. No buildings were actually harmed during the filming of the scene, but the buildings portrayed were real.
The buildings were real and they exist today as well. But the view that is shown through the glass is not real. The “view” is actually a studio composite of ten different buildings (primarily from Century City and Los Angeles), which were rearranged from their original location arrangement. After this was done, CGI effects were used to bring them down in the last scene.
The last two buildings to fall are the twin Century Plaza Towers. To the left is the Fox Plaza Tower and to the right is the St. Regis Hotel tower. In reality, these buildings are located in totally different places. Also, most of the buildings depicted are owned by Fox and is a showcase of the healthy relationship between Fox and the director David Fincher.(1,2)
21. While opening the menu of the Blu-Ray version of Fight Club, a menu pops up of the film Never Been Kissed for a few seconds.
When you first open the menu of the Blu-ray version of Fight Club, you may end up thinking for a second that you brought the wrong DVD. This is because instead of the Fight Club version, they have designed the menu based on the movie Never Been Kissed as a prank. Apparently, Drew Barrymore is a good friend of Edward Norton.(source)
22. On the DVD, there is a warning from Tyler Durden just after the Copyright warning.
Just after the DVD displays the Copyright warning, there is a fake warning from Tyler Durden. The warning just appears on the screen for a second. Read the image above for the exact words on the warning.(source)
23. Finally, in the last scene of the movie, a male genitalia pops up on the screen for a split second just like Tyler used to insert into films when he was working as a projectionist.
During the movie the Narrator lets the audience know that Tyler Durden inserts male genitalia projections in between movies when he was working as a projectionist. The movie ends with the exact same Tyler prank.(source)