15 Crazy Facts You Didn’t Know About Robin Williams

Facts About Robin Williams
(Getty/Ron Galella)

Oh Robin, My Robin. Gone but sure as hell not forgotten. Not forgotten by his family, his fans, or documentary filmmakers. His sense of humor is timeless.

We remember this OG by learning, and then celebrating, 15 cool and crazy things about his storied life. Don’t get caught at the dad function — which could be a barbecue, a sporting event, or a surprise trivia night in which the trivia is mysteriously all about Robin Williams — without these cool facts about the legend himself. 

1. He had a close relationship with Christopher Reeve.

Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams
(Getty/Fotos International)

Turns out the acting superstars were roommates at Juilliard back in the day, and Christopher even helped Robin out from time to time. “My student loan hadn’t come in yet, and he would share his food with me,” said Robin. 

Later when Christopher suffered a spinal cord injury, Robin visited him in the hospital in the most Robin Williams way possible. From Christopher’s book, Still Me: 

“…the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately…it was Robin Williams…for the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”

2. In high school he was voted “Least Likely to Succeed.”

Robin Williams high school photo

Does this mean I still have a chance to defy my fate of “Most Likely to Have an Early-onset Mid-life Crisis”?

Back at ole Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, some people who are very bad at predicting outcomes and who should probably stay away from gambling guessed that Robin Williams wouldn’t amount to much. 

Since then he’s won five Grammys, two Emmys, and an Academy Award. Better luck next time, high school kids with poor judgment. For the rest of us who also got insulting superlatives in our yearbooks, good news: we can still turn this thing around. 

3. His favorite book as a kid was Chronicles of Narnia’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

Robin passed on the magic of Narnia to his own kids by reading the C.S. Lewis series aloud to them. During an AMA, he said: “I would read the whole C.S. Lewis series out loud to my kids. I was once reading to Zelda, and she said ‘don’t do any voices. Just read it as yourself.’ So I did, I just read it straight, and she said ‘that’s better.’”

I’m imagining the superhuman/dad strength it took for Robin Williams not to do a funny voice and sending mad dad-preciation up towards the sky.

4. If Robin could be any animal, he’d have been a dolphin. 

Robin Williams blows a kiss

From his AMA on Reddit: “Just their abilities, how social they are, how sexual they are, how intelligent they are, mainly how social they are.”

Good god, look away kids. It’s true, Robin liked sex and admired that dolphins also like sex. It makes sense that someone as down-to-earth and personable as Robin would switch bodies with a sociable animal. I can’t blame the guy; dolphins seem like they’re having a good time. And also sex.

5. He was a gamer.

homage to Robin Williams in World of Warcraft
(Blizzard Entertainment)

Does the guy who named his daughter “Zelda” like gaming? The rumors are true, the guy who named his daughter after a video game character loves gaming. Robin had Battlestation Pacific, Portal, and Call of Duty on rotation. And apparently, Robin and his wife played Legend of Zelda together when she was pregnant with aforementioned daughter, which is the cutest thing ever. 

World of Warcraft paid homage to the legend by memorializing Robin in multiple ways, most notably a lamp-dwelling genie with “infinite cosmic power,” reminiscent of that big blue fella we all know and love from 1992 Disney classic Aladdin. 

6. He loved cycling. 

Robin Williams Loved to Cycle
(Getty/Bauer-Griffin)

Another cool thing that came out during his AMA: “My favorite thing to do is ride a bicycle. I ride road bikes. And for me, it’s mobile meditation.” Robin, I’ve been saying for YEARS that repetitive exercise is moving meditation. We are like, so the same. Except you’re one hundred times more talented than me. 

New dad fantasy alert: me and Robin Williams, biking up the California coastline, trying on funny voices and sharing our troubles in those voices, getting lost in nature and then finding ourselves.

7. He got angry with Disney for using his genie voice to sell Aladdin merch without his permission.

Genie from Aladdin
(Tenor)

When Disney tried to slip one over on Robin (who do they think they are?) by earning some extra dough with his classic genie voice, Robin wasn’t having it: “I don’t want to sell stuff. It’s the one thing I won’t do.” That guy was committed to the art as hell.

To make up for it, Disney sent him a Picasso painting believed to be worth $1 million. Thanks, I guess? How about next time, ask first.

8. He started his acting journey as a mime in New York City.

That’s right, Robin could do it all, including making you laugh without funny voices. 

Photographer Daniel Sorine was doing his usual thang of taking photos of in Central Park when he came across a duo in front of the Met. It wasn’t until 35 years later that he realized one of those mimes was none other than Robin Williams. 

“What attracted me to Robin Williams and his fellow mime, Todd Oppenheimer, was an unusual amount of intensity, personality and physical fluidity,” said Sorine. “When I approached them with my Pentax Spotmatic they allowed me to invite them into my camera instead of me having to chase after them.”

Check out the full gallery here.

9. He once owned a vineyard.

Is this evoking a fantasy vineyard getaway for you, too? On three let’s say what we’re thinking. 

Did you also say, “You, me, and our cadre of dads escape to Napa Valley to sip wine and have Robin Williams movie marathons while cosplaying as our favorite Robin characters”? 

Oh, you say you had that fantasy about you and your spouse and not me? Okay. Fine. 

Robin on owning a vineyard: “It’s like Gandhi owning a delicatessen.”

10. His dad was a Ford executive. 

You came to The Dad for facts about Robin Williams, but did you know you’d be getting facts about Robin Williams’s dad? Dadception indeed. 

Robin’s dad, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, worked at Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln-Mercury Division as a senior executive, and his mom, Laurie McLaurin, was a former model. One could say they were a family of high-performing rockstars. 

Apparently, when Dadbert (what we lovingly call Robin’s dad) was transferred to Detroit, the family lived in a 40-room farmhouse with a maid. Later they moved to fancytown USA, aka Marin County, California. 

11. He did a mean Jack Nicholson impression. 

Robin said his favorite celebrity to impersonate was Jack Nicholson, but he also loved doing impressions of Ed Sullivan, Keith Richards, Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and John Wayne. Dana Carvey did his favorite impersonation of himself. 

12. He befriended a gorilla named Koko. 

Classic boy meets girl, except boy, in this case, is fully adult Robin Williams, and girl is one San Francisco Zoo inhabitant called Hanabiko “Koko” the Gorilla. 

Koko was famous for knowing many American Sign Language signs and was said to have recognized Robin in person after watching his movies. According to the Koko Foundation, Robin even cheered her up after her mate died.

13. The role of Genie in Aladdin was written for Robin. 

Genie from Aladdin

And in order to woo him for it, Disney shared their vision of Genie by fully animating him and having him perform one of Robin’s own stand-up sets. Robin was like, hell yeah, I’m down to clown around in Genie town. Or words to that effect. 

14. He lived a full but troubled life.

Time magazine once asked Robin: “Billy Crystal says stand-up is how you process the painful. Do we have to wish more painful things on you?” Robin’s answer: “You don’t have to. I find them.” 

Robin suffered from addiction and depression and, when he did talk about it, talked about it in that oh-so-very-Robinesque way. He told Time, “I went to rehab in wine country, just to keep my options open.” 

It may be that fame and fortune aren’t all their cracked up to be. It may be that the goofy, fun friend is just hiding the dark stuff really well. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting two things from this: check on your funny friends, even if their jokes are going downhill. Especially if their jokes are going downhill. 

And maybe that whole “I’ll be happy once I’m rich!” thing a lot of us have going on in our heads isn’t necessarily true. Maybe we can get that same rich feeling from looking over at our kids and seeing them healthy and happy or reading them Chronicles of Narnia, to be corny about it. Just saying. Maybe that’s the more worthwhile thing. 

15. He ad-libbed one of our favorite parts in Good Will Hunting. 

That part in which Sean is describing his wife’s farts? Robin made that up Robin made that up out of his beautiful head. Look close enough and you’ll see Matt Damon the human, not Will the character, having some real laughs. Look even closer and you might notice the camera (and accompanying camera man) shake. 

That’s just the effect Robin had on people — uncontrollable laughter. High five to the skies up towards Robin for doing one of the funniest dad bits of all time, which is mom-themed fart jokes. Why could all stand to be a little more like Robin, and that includes making fun of mom’s farts. Especially making fun of mom’s farts. And if she gives you any grief, tell her you’re just paying respects to the realest. 

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.

Check out our previous edition where we featured crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Rick Moranis.

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Rick Moranis

15 Crazy Facts About Rick Moranis
(Columbia Pictures)

You thought you knew Rick Moranis? Sorry to break it to you pal, but you don’t.

In fact, here are 15 facts you probably didn’t know about him. Facts so good you could impress other dads at daycare pickup by slipping one of these bad boys into casual conversation. (“Oh, your kid likes teddy bears? Reminds me of when Rick Moranis voiced Mr. Cuddles the Teddy Bear in 2003 animated film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the Island of Misfit Toys.”)

So many facts that next time you get in a Rick Moranis Facts-Off with your annoying neighbor who’s always trying to one-up you, you’ll be laying down cold hard Rickies (street slang for Rick Moranis facts) and ending with a mic drop.

Get a load of these Rickies. Take them in. Your prep for the next neighborhood Rick Moranis Facts-Off starts here. Godspeed.

1. Rick took a hiatus from acting, but he never really left.

There were rumors that work for Rick dried up and that’s why we hadn’t seen him on the big screen for a while, but c’mon, you know Rick better than this. He’s insanely talented and kept getting offers for roles left and right over the years, but Rick stayed home to be a single dad after his wife passed away from breast cancer.

In a Hollywood Reporter interview, Rick says he never really retired from the industry — he was just picky.

Although we didn’t see him on the screen for a while, Rick was always there. From 2001 to 2006, he voiced characters for three animated films and made a voice appearance in The Goldbergs to reprise his role from Space Balls, Dark Helmet.

2. His decision to be a stay-at-home dad wasn’t a tough one.

In an interview with Uproxx, Rick explains shifting his focus to his kids in a matter-of-fact, “duh, of course, my kids are the most important thing”-kind of way.

“Stuff happens to people everyday, and they make adjustments to their lives for all kinds of reasons. There was nothing unusual about what happened or what I did, I think the reason that people were intrigued by the decisions I was making and sometimes seem to have almost admiration for it had less to do with the fact that I was doing what I was doing and more to do with what they thought I was walking away from, as if what I was walking away from had far greater value than anything else that one might have.”

Other people might bat a few eyes at walking away from rising movie star fame, but not Rick.

When asked about walking away from a career in which he got to use his creativity every day, Rick said, “I didn’t walk away from that. I applied all of my creativity to my home life, to my kids, to my family. I was the same person. I didn’t change. I just shifted my focus.”

We love this guy and his attitude. We could all stand to be a little more like Rick.

3. He’s been confirmed for a “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” Reboot.

a still from Honey I Shrunk the Kids
(Walt Disney)

If you’ve been keeping up at The Dad then you already knew this one, and if you haven’t been keeping up with The Dad, why not? Well, good news: Rick is definitely on board for a reboot of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Honey, I’ve been overtaken by nostalgia. Honey, I’ve busted a tear from my left eye. Honey, he’s back.

Rick starred as Wayne Szalinski, an inventor dad who committed the biggest “oh sh*t” of our time by shrinking his kids with an experimental ray gun. At some point he accidentally sweeps up his tiny kids in a dustpan and throws them in the trash, but like, who among us?

The reboot, called Shrunk, will focus on Wayne’s son, who’s now grown. Apparently the “accidentally shrinking your own kids” gene is strong in this family since Wayne’s son does the ole shrinkaroo on his own kids. We can’t wait to see what Wayne/Rick/the OG shrinker has to say about that.

4. Rick released a comedy/country album called The Agoraphobic Cowboy.

Rick Moranis Album
(Warner)

What are you doing with the rest of your day? I just cleared my calendar to listen to The Agoraphobic Cowboy on vinyl while wearing assless chaps and pondering my fear of public spaces, and I invite you to join me.

If you approached me in 2005 and said, “Guess what Rick Moranis is doing right now?” I would say, “Tell me.” And then if you said, “He’s writing a country album called The Agoraphobic Cowboy,” I would say, “Yes, I believe you. That sounds like the most Rick Moranis thing of all time.” He’s since released another comedy music album called My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs, so it looks like I’ll have to clear my calendar for tomorrow, too.

5. Seymour and his plant in Little Shop of Horrors would make a good Halloween costume for a dad and his plant-sized baby.

stills of Seymour (played by Rick Moranis) in Little Shop of Horrors
(Warner Bros)

This isn’t really a fact, just something we noticed. Do you love Rick Moranis and are you looking for an easy DIY costume for Halloween? Do you have a baby without the job, income, or wherewithal to plan its own costume? No worries. Dress like good old Seymour Krelborn, one of our favorite Rick Moranis characters. Slap on some glasses and tape leaves onto that baby. Sing him Little Shop of Horrors original music like “Grow For Me.” Pray that he doesn’t grow too large and one day overtakes you.

6. Rick breathed life into his Ghostbusters character by improvising.

There is writing a good screenplay, then there is hiring a good actor that makes that screenplay come to life in ways you couldn’t have written.

Rick improvised scenes in Ghostbusters, most notably the one in which Louis welcomes a couple to a party by airing out all their financial details to other partygoers. Apparently the whole thing was Rick’s idea and he kind of just made it up along the way.
Director Ivan Reitman explained:

“Right away, Rick had all these wonderful ideas. I think it was his idea to play him as an accountant; he wrote that extraordinary speech when he is inviting people to a party at his house and he’s walking that incoming couple through. I had the joke of throwing the coat on the dog that’s in his bedroom, but that whole wonderful speech … Rick just made all of it up as he was doing it. All these guys were so, so good at writing.”

7. There was talk of a Space Balls 2, but it didn’t pan out.

Space Balls movie poster
(MGM)

The movie’s cult following urged the question: will there be a Space Balls 2? The answer was almost yes, according to Rick:

“It wasn’t a box office hit. It was a cult video hit, and MGM wanted to do a sequel. And my idea for it was Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II…But the deal he presented me, what he wanted me to do, was not workable. It was two or three years later…It’s better if I don’t get into the particulars of it…But I was unable to make a deal, and it would have been something I wanted to do.”

Son of a. We were so close to getting another Space Balls. Maybe someday.

8. Rick improvised the Spaceballs scene where Dark Helmet plays with dolls.

You know how your kid can just pick up some dolls and create this whole fantasy world? Your kid and Rick Moranis have that in common.

Apparently, director Mel Brooks came to set with the idea for the scene one day, told Rick about it, and Rick was like, say no mo’. The king of acting/improvising strikes again.

9. Rick Moranis would rather not fly.

Rick Moranis in Space Balls
(Tenor)

Celebrities: they hate flying just like us! It’s not that he’s afraid of flying — Rick Moranis isn’t afraid of anything. He just hates the grossness of being stuck on a plane in a germ stew with a hundred other strangers and the inefficiency of it all.

“We started to hear the stories of people stuck on the tarmac for six hours,” Rick told Heeb Magazine. “If that happens to me, I’ll be on the front page of the New York Post the next day. I’ll fake a heart attack or melt down. So it’s better for me to stay away from airports.”

If he can drive there, he will. Say, Rick, I hate flying too, wanna road trip together?

10. Rick has dated here and there over the years.


Can you imagine going on a date with Rick Moranis? Apparently, Rick’s been putting himself out there a bit, just not on dating apps: “What picture would I use? The guy from Ghostbusters? I don’t think dating sites work for people with famous punims.”

Rick told Heeb Magazine he’d probably travel more if he had a lady companion, but hear me out, Rick. You don’t need a lady to travel with you. What about a dude’s trip? I know at least 10 dads who would love to go on a road trip with you (no airplanes, promise).

11. Rick is Jewish but non-practicing.

Rick Moranis
(Warner)

If you hadn’t guessed already, that’s what his comedy album My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs is all about. Funny, lively, delightfully Jewish — it’s basically a musical manifestation of Rick.

Rick described the album:

“When I first began writing jokes and sketches with various Jewish partners one of us would inevitably stop at some point and announce, ‘Too Jewish!’ Too Jewish for the star, the show, the network, or the audience. The songs on this album are all in that category.”

If you want to wax poetic/comedic about silver Yiddish cups, a challah, and a very Jewish mother serving up some brisket, then take this one for a spin.

12. Rick’s kids didn’t care that he was famous.

Who, that guy? The guy who changed our diapers? He’s alright, I guess.

Rick told Uproxx:

“My earliest memories were of being in public situations where people would get all excited because they were seeing a famous person, and my kids were just like, ‘Why are you so excited? It’s just him.’ They had a really good perspective on celebrity and fame very early on.”

But it sounds like his kids had a sort of indifference to celebrities and fame in general. About the time his five-year-old son saw Derek Jeter at a Knicks game:

“Derek Jeter turned around, recognized me, got kind of like, ‘Oh hi! Hi!’ And my son said, ‘Have you met Chuck Knoblauch yet?’ And Jeter looked at him like, ‘Who is this kid.’ But that was my son. He was comfortable around anyone, and I think the reason was, is because he just didn’t buy why anyone would get excited around me.”

I hope if I ever run into Rick Moranis, I play it as cool as his kids.

13. He “isn’t saying no” to performing his music live.

In an interview with Heeb Magazine, Rick said:

“I’m intrigued by the idea of playing this music live. I’ve never done that. To do a stage performance in a theater with this music, it might be enjoyable. I have no idea. I’ll see what happens. I’m not saying no to anything at this point, including all of the above.”

If we all start working on our Rick Moranis movie character cosplays now, we can be ready by the time you, me, and every dad we know turn up for the Rick Moranis live music function.

14. Rick was fired from The Breakfast Club.

a still from The Breakfast Club
(Universal)

First of all, director John Hughes, how could you. And second: guess the reason he was fired. You can’t.

Did you guess because he played the role of Carl the Janitor with a too-over-the-top Russian accent? Damn, how’d you guess that?

I’m now commencing my boycott of any The Breakfast Club rewatches and I invite you to join me. Rick Moranis belongs in any movie, in any role, even as a gimmicky Russian janitor, and it’s a cardinal sin to think otherwise. If I watch it now, all I’ll be able to think about is how much better it would’ve been with Rick Moranis.

15. His daughter is an architect and his son works in entertainment.

Talk about doing some hella fathering. Rick fathered these kids so good that they’re both doing super impressive things. Rachel, now 32, has multiple degrees in architecture, attended Harvard for grad school, and has co-founded multiple companies. Mitchell, also 32, has busied himself with all things entertainment biz: acting, screenwriting, producing, songwriting, you name it.

Looks like Rick stepping back from Hollywood to take care of his family paid off after all. We love you, Rick. Probably more than your own kids do. Okay, fine, it’s not a competition.

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.

Check out our previous edition where we featured crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Gary Sinise.

10 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Gary Sinise

(Instagram/garysiniseofficial)

Gary Sinise. Actor, philanthropist, detective (ok, so technically that was also acting, but he was REALLY good). Most of us know Sinise from Forrest Gump, where he played a colorful Vietnam veteran, or from his role as Detective Mac Taylor on CSI: NY. Even if you’ve seen him in dozens of movies and TV shows, there’s a lot you probably don’t know about this Hollywood humanitarian. To fill in the gaps, we’ve done a crazy facts deep dive into the incredible life of Gary Sinise.

He didn’t always love acting

In high school, Sinise focused more on music and sports than on school itself. The Highland Park High School drama teacher suggested that the unenthusiastic student audition for a part in his school’s West Side Story production, though Sinise had never acted before. He wasn’t all that interested, but Sinise figured that he had nothing to lose. He auditioned and landed a role in his very first show.

“I fell in love with theater at that moment,” Sinise told The Patch. “Once I did that, all I wanted to do was plays.”

Gary Sinise Facts
(Wikimedia Commons)

Gary Sinise co-founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago

Now one of Chicago’s most famous theaters, Sinise founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company a few years after he graduated from high school. Sinise and his former classmate Jeff Perry first started the company in a suburban church basement before moving to the city of Chicago in 1980.

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company remains one of Chicago’s most beloved theaters today, and it even helped launch the careers of John Malkovich, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, and many others.

Gary Sinise Steppenwolf
(Instagram/garysiniseofficial)

He co-created the Lt. Dan Band in 2003

Before he loved acting, Gary Sinise loved music. After his immensely successful role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, Sinise co-created a band and named it after his iconic character with musician Kimo Williams to entertain troops and perform at USO shows. The band has played hundreds of shows over the years, visiting military bases all over the world to raise the spirits of those serving our country.

Sinise explained on The band’s website, “We will continue to support organizations that are working hard for our veterans, our wounded service members, and their families,” he explained. “The band will be playing concerts to raise spirits, funds, and awareness for our nation’s severely wounded warriors, their families and all who serve.”

He played the role of CAPCOM on Epcot’s Mission: SPACE

If you visited Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park between the years of 2003 and 2017, chances you ran into Gary Sinise on your way out of Earth’s atmosphere. For 14 years, Gary Sinise played the part of CAPCOM, explaining your mission and helping you prepare for a mission to Mars.

Though actress Gina Torres replaced Sinise as CAPCOM in 2017, you can still get the full Sinise experience with an older video of Epcot’s Mission: SPACE. The Apollo 13 star explains your mission, your role, and the importance of working as a team. Pay close attention and do your best – few things are more crushing than disappointing Gary Sinise.

Sinise put on a spacesuit and flew in a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

In 2011, Sinise visited the Beale Air Force Base in California and completed a demanding day-long training to fly in a U-2 “Dragon Lady” spy plane. He became one of fewer than 1,000 people in the last 50 years to take the extremely taxing flight, which earned him a spot in what air force members call the “high flyer club.”

Sinise documented his training as well as the expedition itself in his documentary “High Flight,” which also discussed the ins and outs of the air force base and flight program.

The rosary dog tags worn by Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump were real

Sinise’s brother in law, Jack Treese, was a combat medic in Vietnam. He figured that any help he could get would be beneficial, so even though he wasn’t Catholic, he made his own rosary beads to hold his dog tag.

While on the set of Forrest Gump, Sinise was given a fake set of dog tags by the film’s costume designer. Rather than use the imitation dog tags, Sinise figured it’d be more meaningful to use the real ones – so he swapped them out.

Gary Sinise Lt. Dan
(Instagram/garysiniseofficial)

Veteran Dale Dye put the Forrest Gump cast through real-life military training

Dale Dye is a marine veteran turned actor, and outside of acting, he offers his expertise and serves as an advisor on movies that involve the military. One such movie was Forrest Gump – prior to filming, Dye put several actors including Gary Sinise through one hell of an orientation to military life.

During the last day of training, Dye made sure the actors would hit a host of roadblocks, leaving them lost in the swamps of South Carolina before being attacked by Dye and his crew. Sinise took the training extremely seriously, which often led Dye to push him harder than the other actors. To this day, Gary Sinise and Dale Dye remain friends.

Gary Sinise Dale Dye
(garysinisefoundation.org)

Sinise has won multiple awards for his efforts to support veterans

Sinise created the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to support veterans and their families. The actor is extremely active in the world of military and veteran charities and gives his time and money generously to support our nation’s heroes. In response to his efforts, he has been recognized by multiple organizations and honored accordingly.

Some of his honors include the USO Patriot Award in 2011, the Spirit of Hope Award in 2012, The Noble Award in 2015, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society Patriot Award in 2020, and dozens more. So unbelievably well-deserved.

Gary Sinise chose his role in Apollo 13

After securing Tom Hanks to play the role of Jim Lovell, director Ron Howard invited Gary Sinise to choose his role. Sinise chose to play Ken Mattingly, an astronaut taken off of the Apollo 13 mission just days before launch due to exposure to the measles.

The actor explained how he chose his role in the most Sinise way possible. According to IMDB, Sinise explained, “When I looked at it, I said, ‘I want to play that guy.’ Without him, they won’t get back.”

On-screen and off, Gary Sinise is the perpetual helper. Mr. Rogers would have been so proud.

An offhand joke made by Lt. Dan came to fruition

In a scene in Forrest Gump, Lt. Dan jokingly (sort of) states that if Forrest ever became a shrimp boat captain, he would become an astronaut. Well, Forrest got his Shrimp boat, “Jenny.” A year later, Sinise went on to star in Apollo 13 as astronaut Ken Mattingly (with whom he shares a birthday).

It’s good to know that even in character, Gary Sinise is honest and true to his word. It’s extremely fortunate that Lieutenant Dan said “astronaut,” and not “clown with a thirst for blood” or “retired.”

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.

Check out our previous edition where we featured crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Star Wars.

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Star Wars

(20th Century Fox)

Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Back to the Future all have hardcore fanbases. But people don’t just like Star Wars, they like knowing everything there is to know about it. I grew up with all the Essential Guides, Visual Dictionaries, and Incredible Cross-Sections, but every day Twitter informs me that I am like a mid-grade Star Wars nerd, at best. So, depending on your own level of fandom, the mileage you get on this 15 Facts article may vary, but I promise we dug up some cool things your average nerf-herder wouldn’t know:

1. There Is No Light Side Of The Force

Obviously I have started with a bold claim, but the fact remains that nowhere in the Star Wars movies is there a reference to the “Light” side of the force. In the original movie, the Force was presented as an all-encompassing aspect of life. The “Dark Side” was more of a shadowy corner of the Force, rather than a fully developed B-side. As the series progressed over 40+ years, the idea of duality grew from such a massive good vs. evil story. The prequels made it pretty official by focusing on the whole “Chosen One bringing balance” runaround. Still, the closest the movies have gotten to identifying the Light Side is Kylo Ren struggling with “the call to the light” in The Force Awakens. So what is the true nature of the Force? Is the Force a balanced yin and yang, or is it ~everything~ and that just means there’s a dark corner? The answer is: Star Wars is a fairy tale that is fun to talk about.

2. The Ewok Language Is Real

Ben Burtt, the man behind Darth Vader’s breathing and the lightsaber hum, created most of the languages in the galaxy far, far away. Ewokese was based on the Kalmyk Oirat, a language spoken in Russia after Burtt heard it in a documentary. In fact, most alien languages in movies are created by rearranging sounds and words in real languages, because making them up out on your own is really hard. Yub nub!

3. There Are No Bras In Space

When we lost Carrie Fisher in 2016, we lost not only our Princess and General but one of the most honest and hilarious voices in Hollywood. In her memoir-turned-performance piece, Wishful Drinking, Fisher shares the reasoning George Lucas gave for not letting her wear underwear. 

“What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t — so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit — so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

I guess Gold Bikinis have a little more room to breathe?

4. Yoda Dang Done Gone To The Damn Dark Side

Dark Yoda
(Star Wars Underworld)

In the Clone Wars-era novel Dark Rendevous, there’s a moment where Yoda and Count Dooku have a little lightsaber fight chit-chat about the nature of the Force. During the debate, Dooku does the basic “you don’t know the power of the dark side” spiel, which Yoda throws back in his face, basically saying “yeah-huh.” Of course, the book is not officially canon, as it was released pre-Disney, but A) “canon” is a made-up way to classify different made-up stories. It’s all made up! But if you insist on following the rules when it comes to imagination stories, then may I refer you to the episode “Destiny” from the sixth season of Clone Wars. Yoda meets his own dark shadow in the Wellspring of Life, and while it’s not spelled out, the implication is that he maybe went through, like, a phase.

5. TIE Fighters Sound Like Elephants

Back in the sound booth, Ben Burtt combined the sound of a car skidding on wet pavement with an elephant…neighing? Honking? What do you call the sound elephants make?* Either way, that goofy noise is what’s behind the intimidating screech of the Imperial Navy’s staple fighter.

*I looked it up, it’s called honking. TIE Fighters honk like elephants. That’s cannon.

6. David Prowse is Banned From All Official Events

David Prowse is the body inside Darth Vader’s armor, and as far as he knew he was the voice of the iconic villain as well…right up until he saw the movie at the premiere. While we can all agree that hiring James Earl Jones to dub Vader’s lines was one of Lucas’ better decisions, he probably should have, like, mentioned it? The British bodybuilder spent years being understandably  -but vocally- frustrated about the snubbing, to the point that he was finally banned from all official Star Wars events in 2010. According to Lucas’ representatives, Prowse had “burned too many bridges.”

6. A New Hope Is The Reason You Have To Leave When Movies Are Over

Back in the day, buying a movie ticket would let you hang out in the cinema all day. Rather than a scheduled attraction, you bought admission to the theater and could stick around for whatever you liked. That changed when Star Wars became so popular that people would sit and watch it multiple times in a row. Film distributors quickly changed the rules to capitalize on multiple viewings. This is why you have to awkwardly smile and nod to the teenagers trying to clean while you wait for a three-second joke after the credits of a Marvel movie.

7. The Original Millennium Falcon Was Kinda Meh.

Before Colin Cantwell landed on the flying hamburger design for Han’s bachelor van, his original concept was much closer to a classic rocket tube. This earlier version, known as the “Pirate Ship” was even built by ILM modelmakers before George Lucas saw the similar-looking ship from Space:1999. The creative direction was to ensure Han’s ship was wholly unique and original; so the Pirate Ship was retooled into Leia’s Tantive IV, which is the very first ship we see in the franchise.

8. The Opening Crawl Cost Lucas His Seat In The Director’s Guild

According to movie rules in the 1970s, a movie needs to have opening credits. Of course, Lucas had a different vision for kicking off the biggest adventure ever. Lucas resigned from the Director’s Guild and paid a fine to have his movie start with the iconic crawl, rather than telling us who the third executive producer was.  This did cost the original trilogy another director, though/ Steven Spielberg, who was in good standing with the guild, was later unable to sign on to direct Return of the Jedi as he originally hoped.

9. “Endor” is Elvish for “Middle-Earth”

Endor’s race of Fozzie Bears may be closer to dwarves than elves in stature, but warriors more attuned to nature than technology is something Tolkien’s elves would surely appreciate. Fantasy writers gotta stick together, yo. Speaking of Ewoks…

10. Kenny Baker Was Originally Supposed To Play Wicket

The man behind – or rather, inside – R2D2 was originally supposed to play the young Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Baker fell ill during filming, and the role was passed to an 11-year-old boy who was an extra on set. The kid was a HUGE Star Wars fan, so getting recast as an actual character and hero to the Rebellion was a big role upgrade. That boy, of course, was Warwick Davis, who would grow up to be a successful actor famous for roles in Willow, the BBC Chronicles of Narnia miniseries, the freakin Leprechaun in Leprechaun, and Harry Potter.

11. There Are No Clone Trooper Costumes From The Prequels In Existence

…Because every single one of them was CGI. Every single one. So, my condolences to the 501st Legion, but if y’all really want film-quality replicas of Clone Trooper armor, you’re gonna have to walk around with those little CGI tracking balls stapled to a unitard.

12. Darth Vader’s Chestplate Has A Secret Message

In Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Vader’s control panel displays three lines of text under the buttons on the left side. While it looks close enough to Aurebesh (the Star Wars language you see on control screens and such through the movies), the lettering is actually Hebrew. The translation isn’t exact, but the general gist reads “His deeds will not be forgiven until he merits” which is, you know, freakin’ rad.

13. Luke “Pulls” His Lightsaber By Throwing It

Movie magic at it’s finest: when Mark Hamil would reach out with the Force to bring his lightsaber to hand, they’d film him just chucking the thing across the room, then reversing the footage in the final edit. Legitimately hilarious visual.

14. The Millennium Falcon Can Travel 25,000 Light Years Per Day

The Falcon Makes the Jump To Lightspeed
(Yahoo.com)

While I think applying any sort of real-world science to the Big Laser Movies misses the point, Han and friends do seem to get places awfully fast, even with the fastest ship in the galaxy. Of course, all fictional spaceships travel at the speed of plot, but it turns out there’s some math that says the Falcon blows the Starship Enterprise out of the water in a space race. With only the vague technobabble of  “.5 past lightspeed” as a reference point, Slate put together a pretty cool interactive chart that maps out how fast various classic sci-fi ships can run.

15. The Force Is Yoga.

This one’s for all of us. As George Lucas explained to Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, “If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it. It’s like yoga, anyone can do it.” So. We are all one with the Force, and the Force is with us.

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.

15 Crazy Facts About ‘Back to the Future’ to Celebrate Its 35th Anniversary

15 Crazy Facts You Didn't Know About Back to the Future
(Universal Pictures)

After we blew your mind with some crazy facts you didn’t know about Ghostbusters, we figured this was the perfect time for a new edition. If you’re like us, you’ve spent an unhealthy amount of your quarantine ruminating on the logistics of time travel. Can it be done? Could I conceivably soup up my Honda Civic, hightail it back to 2019, and warn the masses of an impending pandemic?

BTTF turns 35 today and Hasbro celebrated by releasing a DeLorean-Transformer. We can’t top that. But we can pay homage by digging up some facts you probably don’t know about these films.

Without further ado…here are 15 crazy facts about the trilogy to enhance your viewing pleasure:

1) In the 80s, nobody wanted time travel movies. Director Robert Zemeckis didn’t want Back to the Future to be the box office drag that Time Bandits and Somewhere in Time were. That’s why they almost named it Spaceman From Pluto.

2) Had Huey Lewis & The News not made “Power of Love” for the original film, there’s a very real chance they would’ve ended up doing the theme song for Ghostbusters instead. Close call!

3) There are many fan theories about why they made the speed of time travel 88 miles per hour. But the filmmakers have been clear: 88 just looks insanely badass on a speedometer.

(Universal Pictures)

4) In the original draft for Back to the Future II, Marty travels back to 1967, where he dodges the Vietnam draft, trips acid, and meets his hippie parents. Doc was supposed to ride a motorcycle. The whole script is available to read here.

5) If you’re baffled by how Doc and Marty’s unlikely companionship came about, writer Bob Gale offered this explanation for how the two became friends: “He snuck into Doc’s lab, and was fascinated by all the cool stuff that was there. When Doc found him there, he was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was… Doc gave Marty a part-time job to help with experiments, tend to the lab, tend to the dog, etc.”

6) Marty first meets with Doc at the Twin Pines Mall parking lot. Marty immediately drives over a pine tree when he travels back to 1958. When he returns to 1985, it’s now called the Lone Pine Mall.

(Universal Pictures)

7) At first, there was no DeLorean. Marty was initially supposed to time travel in a refrigerator, but Robert Zemeckis was worried suggestible kids might climb into their fridges and suffocate.

8) Robert Zemeckis owns all the film rights and outright refuses to allow a Back to the Future reboot in his lifetime.

9) In Back to the Future II, there is a Roger Rabbit doll in the window of the Cafe 80s. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was also directed by Bob Zemeckis.

(Universal Pictures)

10) The first movie’s script was rejected over 40 times by major studios. Disney was understandably weirded out by Marty’s whole plan to get handsy with the 1955 version of his mom.

11) Carl Sagan considered Back to the Future II the greatest movie ever made about time travel, praising the film for its handling of multiple concurrent timelines.

12) Before Michael J. Fox came, Eric Stoltz was slated to play Marty McFly. There’s even test footage!

13) Also, Danny Devito was considered for the role of Doc Brown. Have fun imagining that for the rest of the day.

14) Michael J. Fox has four kids and none of them have seen Back to the Future. He stated this at the 2015 London Comic Con, so perhaps they’ve seen it since. Or maybe they’re also waiting for it to hit Netflix.

15) Tom Wilson, the guy who plays Biff Tannen, isn’t just an actor. He’s also a painter, podcaster, musician, and standup comedian. He even wrote a song addressing the questions he’s constantly bombarded with.

Check out our previous list of crazy Facts You Don’t Know About the original Ghostbusters.

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About the Original Ghostbusters

Crazy Facts About Ghostbusters
(Columbia Pictures)

Ok, We get it. You’ve read a bunch of these posts, like our crazy facts about Die Hard, and think you’ve heard it all. You know the Ghostbusters HQ is a firehouse in New York City. You’ve read about the fact that the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man almost didn’t make the cut and was comprised of suits, puppeteers and a ton of shaving cream.

So we set out to find the real gems. The cream of the crop. The stuff you’ll only find in maybe 1/3 of those posts at best. So let’s take a ride back in time and look at 15 crazy facts you never knew about the iconic film, Ghostbusters.

1. The original script would have cost an estimated $300 Million to produce… in the 80s

(GIPHY)

The first pass of the script was much different than the movie we all know today. Writer and funnyman Dan Aykroyd’s initial concept was a darker, more futuristic ghost flick that saw the film’s characters travel through time and space to battle dozens of other-worldly spirits. Director Ivan Reitman, who was also charged with getting a studio on-board, estimated the grittier sci-fi version would have cost 10x as much as the classic that we all know today — and that was in the eighties.

2. A five-word pitch sealed the deal

“Ghost janitors in New York.”

Frank Price, then studio head at Columbia Pictures, green-lit the film on that basic premise. The fact that Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis were all already on-board probably didn’t hurt either. “The wisdom in town was that I had made a terrible mistake,” Price told Vanity Fair in an interview years later.

3. They only had one year to make it all happen

The studio gave Reitman, Ramis, and Aykroyd just 12 months to write, film, and release the picture so it would coincide with the summer movie season. Although an initial draft was already completed, the final production script would take the trio several weeks to nail down before they moved right into pre-production. It was a tight schedule, which obviously had a few implications along the way (See #8 and #9).

4. The cast almost included Eddie Murphy and John Candy

(GIPHY)

When first writing the script, Aykroyd envisioned Eddie Murphy, John Belushi and himself as the three main characters, but after Belushi passed away, Bill Murray was eventually (see #5) tapped for the now-iconic role of snarky Peter Venkman.

As for John Candy, he was originally approached to play the role of Louis Tully, but a few obstacles prevented that from happening.

Candy envisioned a much different persona and also wanted the character to take a more starring role in the film. Wanting to keep their original vision for Tully, the filmmakers instead selected Rick Moranis. Not only was Moranis ready and willing to play the character they needed, but he also was able to wear his own threads. I mean, come on. He IS Louis Tully.

5. “But… I’m Batman”

(GIPHY)

Michael Keaton was initially cast as scientist Peter Venkman. The role written for the late John Belushi was seen as a good fit for the newly popular Keaton. He auditioned and was cleared for the part until Murray expressed interest in the project and eventually replaced Keaton in the role. In the end, it’s all about who you know, and Murray knew Reitman from their previous work together in Stripes.

6. “Slimer” is an unofficial nod to John Belushi

While unable to star in the film, Belushi was there in spirit. Wanting to honor his late friend, Aykroyd brought to life the first apparition the gang would face: Slimer. The gluttonous ghost who provides plenty of comic relief is indeed an unofficial homage to the late, great Belushi. 

7. Sigourney Weaver’s audition was just her acting like a dog

Yep. Zero dialogue.

According to an interview years later in Rolling Stone, Reitman says Weaver instead acted out a scene where she turned into one of Gozer’s hounds, wildly snarling and heaving about the room. Reitman, both impressed and likely at least a little terrified, gave her the gig.

8. Sacrifices had to be made

(Twitter)

With a tight timeline to get the movie finished, special effects supervisors had to make some quick decisions to get the right shot. For example, the scene of Slimer spinning around the ballroom of the Sedgewick Hotel was actually just a peanut spray-painted green. Say what you will, but Bill Murray has openly criticized the sequel for focusing too much on the effects and not enough on the original comedic magic of the first film.

9. The was only one Ecto-1

(GIPHY)

Again due to the rush placed on cast and crew, only one of the iconic retrofitted Cadillac Ambulances was designed for production. Typically movies with iconic vehicles have several backups, but budget and time restraints made that unfeasible this time around. Ironically, the vehicle went kaput during the final scene, but thankfully the print was in the can and production was wrapped… at least for the car.

10. Unsung …or Mis-sung Hero

(GIPHY)

One man was tasked with creating several of the now-iconic gear featured in the film. Everything from the proton packs to that red and white Ecto-1 was crafted by Stephen Dane, a man hired by Reitman to help tell the story via the movie’s signature props. He was given just two weeks to complete it all, only to have his name misspelled as Steven in the movie’s credits.

11. You could actually call the Ghostbusters… at least for a while

“Who ya Gonna call?” Producers set up a toll-free 800 number prior to the movie’s release as a publicity stunt. The phone rang to a prerecorded message from Murray and Aykroyd. The number got so many calls though that it was eventually shut down. Now I’m really not sure who to call.

12. Who is Zuul?

That deep and disturbing voice is none other than Director Ivan Reitman, who during post-production was having difficulty finding the right voice talent. Running out of time, Reitman did the only thing he could think of: He deeepend his voice the best he could and gave it a go, and dare we say… nailed it.

13. Bill Murray didn’t get a check for Ghostbusters

(GIPHY)

A $300 million dollar box office smash and the comedy all-star didn’t receive one cent. Ok… so maybe not in cash anyway. 

Murray’s deal with Columbia to do the movie was on an agreement that he’d be able to make his own passion project once Ghostbusters was wrapped and the studio would foot the bill. The Razor’s Edge, a film where Murray took on his first dramatic role, was released in 1984 ad was a flop at the box office, taking a loss of nearly $6 million. 

14. Jingle Jangle

The breakout hit theme song to the movie that had everyone saying “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” caused quite a stir between its performer, Ray Parker Jr., and musicians Huey Lewis. Lewis sued Parker claiming the track was too similar to his own song I want a new Drug. The suit dragged on for over a decade before finally being settled, and although monetary figures were never released, Parker ended up countersuing years later claiming Lewis mentioned the suit in public and was bound not to do so by its terms.

 

15. Other Famous Faces

Beyond the obvious celebs we’ve already mentioned, there were a few cameos you may have either missed or forgotten. The first is Larry King. The longtime talk show host made his very first cinematic cameo in Ghostbusters. But wait… there’s more. Ron Jeremy, yes… that Ron Jeremy, also appears as an extra among a crowd of onlookers. He later went on to star in a porn parody entitled This Ain’t Ghosbusters XXX.

(GIPHY)

Still hungry for more pop-culture listicles like this? Check out our previous list of crazy Facts You Don’t Know About The Simpsons.

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About The Simpsons

15 Crazy Facts About The Simpsons
(20th Century Fox)

It’s hard to believe that The Simpsons just turned 30. Having persevered through scrunchies, MySpace, AND Kermit memes, America’s favorite nuclear family holds the distinction as the longest-running scripted show in history. Eat those shorts and bunga those cows, because we’ve got 15 things you may not know about this iconic cartoon.

1. Maggie’s price

(20th Century Fox)

When Maggie is scanned in the opening credits by a litigiously inattentive cashier, she rings up as $847.63. In 1989, when the sequence was created, this was how much it cost per month to raise a baby. Wow. 1989 was cheap. No wonder Taylor Swift devoted an album to it.

2. Bart’s locker combination

(20th Century Fox)

It’s 36-24-36. You may have heard these numbers in “Brick House” by the Commodores. Or “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC. Maybe “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. It means what you think it does.

3. Some characters are named after streets

(Urban Nest Royalty)

Like Burnside Street, near Montgomery Park. And Lovejoy Street. And Van Houten Avenue. And Comic Book Guy Boulevard. Okay, we made that last one up.

4. God is the only character with five fingers

(20th Century Fox)

What a tragedy. The only guy with a middle finger and he’s probably never used it.

5. There’s a reason Homer and Krusty look alike

(20th Century Fox)

Originally, Krusty was supposed to just be Homer in makeup trying to win the affection of his clown-worshipping son. Thankfully that plotline was scrapped because no Krusty means no Sideshow Bob, and no Sideshow Bob means no this.

6. Conan O’Brien once wrote for the show

According to The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, on Conan’s first day a bird flew the window and died on the office floor. All the writers thought it was an omen. Conan went on to write “Marge vs. The Monorail,” which is widely regarded as a top 5 episode.

7. The voice of Homer, Dan Castellaneta, was this guy in the audience at the Knicks game in Space Jam

(Warner Bros)

Probably more of a Space Jam fact but hey look! That’s Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond! Wow. Homer Simpson and Debra Barone. Just imagine the fights.

8. “Kamp Krusty” was supposed to be a movie

(20th Century Fox)

After the season 4 premiere was finished, producer James L. Brooks floated using its plot for a feature-length Kamp Krusty film. It was immediately dismissed as a bad idea and a Simpsons movie wouldn’t happen for another 15 years.

(20th Century Fox)

That’s right. You forgot this happened.

9. The McBain movie is real

Every now and then in The Simpsons, you’ll catch a glimpse of Rainier Wolfcastle’s portrayal of McBain, an amalgamation of action heroes played by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But did you know if you piece those clips together you get a cohesive little action flick? Watch for yourself!

10. One episode was too sweet for promos

Season 7 tearjerker “Mother Simpson” ends on a truly touching note with Homer bidding farewell to his estranged mother, Mona. He then sits alone atop his car, watching the stars as credits roll. When the episode initially aired, the producers insisted that no FOX promos be shown over this, as it would spoil the mood. Good call.

11. No Doubt had a silent, uncredited cameo

(20th Century Fox)

In the episode “Homerpalooza,” Homer goes on tour with Hullabalooza music festival, along with Cypress Hill, Smashing Pumpkins, and Sonic Youth. But did you know that Gwen Stefani’s brother, Eric, was an animator on the show at the time? That’s why he drew her band into the background.

12. At the time of this writing, there are 672 episodes

To put that into perspective, there were only 192 episodes of Full House. The Simpsons is three Full Houses with a Hey Arnold left over.

13. Hank Scorpio was supposed to return in The Simpsons Movie

(20th Century Fox)

Man. Remember Hank Scorpio, Homer’s impossibly cool boss at Globex from season 8’s “You Only Move Twice”? Remember all those quotable lines he had? Remember that badass flamethrower he wielded at the end? Wouldn’t you love to see him again? He was slated to be in the Simpsons Movie.

Yeah, well, too bad.

(20th Century Fox)

14. Bart’s name is an anagram

Of the word BRAT. Because of the misbehaving.

15. Couch gags are used to pad episodes


If an episode comes up a little short in length, that time is usually made up for in the opening title’s couch gag. It’s like narrowing your paper margins to make an essay seem longer, but with television.

Check out our previous list of crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Die Hard.

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Die Hard

15 Crazy Die Hard Facts
(Getty/Win McNamee)

Everybody has a favorite movie or two that they know like the back of their hand. Maybe you grew up watching it on HBO or VHS, maybe your dad showed it to you when you were a kid and it became a bonding experience, maybe your roommate had it on DVD and you just threw it on every other night until you had it memorized.

Die Hard is one of those movies for me, and probably for a lot of you too. The seminal, genre-defining action movie that launched a million imitators came out in 1988 and since then I’ve seen it almost 1,988 times. It’s like a member of my family, even if some years my wife only lets it visit around Christmas.

But even after all these years and all those viewings, it’s still possible to learn new things about a favorite movie, even one as well-known as Die Hard. We’ve put together a list of some of those things for our “Facts You Didn’t Know” series.

1. Die Hard is based on a book

Nothing Lasts Forever Vintage Cover

The movie is based on a book called “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp, a sequel to his book The Detective, which was adapted into a movie starring Frank Sinatra. Thorp was hoping this new book would be Sinatra vehicle too – and the role was offered to him when he was 73-years-old. We dodged that rocket launcher!

2. There were numerous casting what-ifs

Nearly every leading man in Hollywood was considered for the lead role of John McClane, including Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, John Travolta, Don Johnson, Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and more. Thank god they didn’t get it!

3. Bruce Willis was hardly featured in the marketing

Willis was primarily known as a charming smart-ass on “Moonlighting” and that guy from the Seagram’s Wine Cooler ads.

The studio was unsure of his action-movie chops, so he was barely featured in the movie’s promotional materials, particularly the posters, where Nakatomi Plaza got top billing.

4. Ol’ Blue Eyes gave Bruce his start

Okay, not really. But his first role, uncredited, natch, was in one of Frank’s movies: The First Deadly Sin.

Check out this clip where the future John McClane passes by the man who ended up passing up the role of John McClane:

5. Jurassic Hans?


Sam Neill got first shot at Hans Gruber but turned it down. In some alternate universe, an elderly Frank Sinatra and the scientist from Jurassic Park are squaring off in Nakatomi Plaza. Thankfully, not in ours.

6. It was Alan Rickman’s first movie role

Today, Alan Rickman’s performance as Hans Gruber is one of the most celebrated parts of the movie, and the exceptional thief is considered one of most iconic villains of all time. But despite being a well-known stage actor in England, this was actually Rickman’s first film role. Not a bad start!

7. Shakespeare inspired it

At least the structure. Director John McTiernan, one of the premiere action directors of all time (Predator, Hunt For Red October), suggested the script condense the action to a one-night time frame, just like Billy Shakes’ violent heist story, A MIDSOMMER’S NIGHT DREAM.

8. Willis requested Bedelia

Bruce must have seen HEART LIKE A WHEEL, (or at least this amazing trailer!) in which Bonnie starred as Shirley Muldowney, the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association because he suggested Bonnie Bedelia play Holly.

9. A key scene was improvised


That memorable scene when Gruber pretends to be “Clay, Bill Clay,” was written on set after Director John McTiernan heard Rickman doing an American accent. “You were saying?”

10. The home-field advantage

The iconic Nakatomi Plaza was actually Fox Plaza, the headquarters for Die Hard’s studio, 20th Century Fox. It was actually under construction at the time, so those weren’t sets McClane was walking around, it was actual work-in-progress!

11. “Who gives a shit about glass?”


Somebody must have, as $130,000 was spent on glass alone for the filming.

12. Terrorists were fluent in gibberish

None of the actors playing the terrorists – sorry, thieves. Sorry, exceptional thieves. – actually spoke German, so some of their dialogue wasn’t a language at all. It was just nonsense.

13. A Stuntman got shafted

You know when McClane jumps across the duct shaft only to miss the vent and plummet further down? That was an accident! Willis’s stuntman was supposed to grab the first vent but failed, plunging further down until he found purchase. If you look closely at the stuntman’s fall trajectory you’ll notice there’s no chance he would have been able to grab any opening. They left it in to make the scene even more exciting. Mission accomplished!

14. Nakatomi Plaza was Falling Water

And you thought the Shakespeare thing was pretentious! Falling Water was the iconic, uniquely designed home of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. DIE HARD’s production designed thought recreating it for the lobby of Nakatomi Plaza – because the Japanese were co-opting everything American – was nice and symbolic. So the lobby is meant to be Falling Water, purchased and reassembled in an L.A. office building.

15. McClane’s undershirt is in the Smithsonian

DIE HARD is one of most iconic, and action and Christmas movies of all time (it’s THE best, for my money), and it received the ultimate seal of approval when the disgustingly bloodied t-shirt McClane wears during the movie was put on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. in 2007.

Check out our previous list of crazy Facts You Don’t Know About N64’s GoldenEye 007.

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About N64’s GoldenEye 007

15 Crazy Facts About N64 GoldenEye
(GotGame)

Even if you weren’t around when the game first debuted, chances are you’re at least aware of 1997’s GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 console. While many games have stood the test of time, the mere mention of proximity mines and paintball mode invokes nostalgia from those both young and.. well… slightly less young.

So what is it that catapulted GoldenEye into the stratosphere of gaming culture? The answer is a combination of advanced gameplay, branding and ahead-of-its-time-graphics that still impress, especially considering 3D gaming was in its infancy at the time.

Whether you’re a diehard fan or only vaguely aware of it, here are 10 things you probably never knew about GoldenEye 007.

1. It was originally going to be as a side scrolling, 2D shooter for the SNES

(GIPHY)

Martin Hollis, Game Director, instead proposed “a 3D shooting game” for the Nintendo 64 console, then still in development and known only as Ultra 64. He then created a document with all the design ideas he wanted in the game, including gadgets, weapons, characters to use, story digression from the film, and an artificial intelligence (AI) that would react to the player’s actions.

2. The team behind the game were relative amateurs

The majority of the team behind GoldenEye had never worked on a video game before. The rest were more familiar with 2D titles such as Donkey Kong Country. But those involved say at the time, that was actually a plus.

“Because it was most people’s first game”, composer Graeme Norgate told Now Gamer back in 2011. “We did things we might not do again because it was too much work. We didn’t take the easy route. If something sounded like a good idea, it was like, ‘Yeah let’s do it!’ The world was our oyster! Only afterwards would you find it was a world of pain.”

3. Developers initially planned to let players reload weapons by unplugging and re-inserting the Rumble Pak on the game controller

Yep. Developer Steve Ellis says the idea was ultimately nixed by Nintendo. “Nintendo weren’t keen on that idea and I think it might have affected the pacing a bit…”

BUT HOLY SHIT CAN YOU IMAGINE.

4. There was supposed to be four Bonds in the game

(GIPHY)

Sean Connery’s Bond, along with Timothy Dalton’s and Roger Moore’s were originally included alongside Pierce Brosnan’s. Developer Dave Doak recalls it was “right near the end” of the game’s development that the characters were pulled. The firm who held the license said it was a no-go.

“An edict came down from on high and we had to get rid of the other Bonds, so on the day we had to take them out we played this epic deathmatch – first to a hundred kills – which went on for about three hours. Mark Edmonds played as Moore and won by one kill. It went down to the wire…”

The other Bonds exist in some of the game’s promotional material and documentation. What’s even cooler is that they left behind digital footprints in the game.

5. Much of the game is actually in black and white

(GIPHY)

Karl Hilton, one of the designers on the project, says the N64’s processor was only 3/4 of what the team had designed for. Their solution? Go old school. “RGB colour textures cost a lot more in terms of processing power. You could do double the resolution if you used greyscale, so a lot was done like that. If I needed a bit of colour, I’d add it in the vertex.”

6. Super Mario 64 changed everything

Dave Doak told Now Gamer that when Super Mario 64 was released, the developers, like many players, were floored. “When Mario arrived it was clearly a step forward. Martin was obsessed with the collision detection, which was obviously doing it in 3D and GoldenEye was essentially using a 2D method. And our story was only about shooting stuff – we needed other things. We started putting in objectives, like meeting people in a level and back then that involved some complicated AI.”

7. Many elements are recycled from other parts of the game

The radar on multiplayer mode is actually an oil drum texture. The shuttle scene reused satellite textures and it’s takeoff imagery was powered by graphics from grenade explosions. “That whole level is a big hack job, but it’s one of the nicest looking,” Karl admitted.

8. Most supporting characters were rendered from employees at Rare Studios

(GIPHY)

Most everyone, aside from the studio owners, were scanned in for use in the game. At the start of each level, 5 faces from the collection are chosen at random. According to the 2011 interview, the entire development team are in there and Karl remains rather proud of the manly scar added to his face.

9. The game was extremely profitable

GoldenEye 007 cost Rare Studios an estimated $2 million to produce. It went on to gross over $250 million worldwide. Over 8 million copies of the game have been sold to date, making it the third most popular title for the console behind Mario 64 and Mario Kart.

For reference, the actual movie GoldenEye had a $60 million dollar budget and brought in an estimated $350 million at the box office.

10. Multiplayer mode was a last-minute addition

That’s right. Possibly one of the most memorable parts of the game nearly never came to light.

Developer Steve Ellies was brought aboard in the final months of the project to add in cheat codes and extra details. But his most important contribution was easily multiplayer. According to Doak, Ellies “sat in a room with all the code written for a single-player game and turned GoldenEye into a multiplayer game.”

Thank you, Steve.

11. The Cheat Sheet

Plenty of games have hidden easter eggs and cheat codes, but GoldenEye’s took the game to another level.

Players will fondly remember gems such as Paintball Mode and Tiny Bond, all achievable through carefully choreographed combinations that if done incorrectly, just make Bond look like he’s busting out a brand new dance.

(GameSpot)

Of course, you can always just beat certain levels within a specified time and win these perks honestly, but come on now, just bust a move.

12. Flying Bond

Yep. It’s more of a glitch, but still. This one was shared on GameSpot by user Millers C.

“Enable the Tiny Bond cheat. Go to a staircase and Crouch as far down as you can and walk off, and Voila, Bond can fly! Try it at the Frigate!”

13. Secret Island

While designing the first level, programmers built an island that was meant to be reached by boat. The boat was removed but the island remains… that is if you have a GameShark. Remember GameSharks?

The folks over at Fandom shared this tidbit:

“During the Dam level, go to the opposite side of the docks away from the place where you jump off. You can use your sniper rifle zoom to look around. While looking around, you will see an island slightly obscured by fog. Using a GameShark and a ‘No Clipping’ code, you will be able to reach the island.”

14. Secrets of the Silo

This one comes from IGN. Again, it’s more of a glitch, but still pretty freaking cool.

“This code requires that you have the invincibility cheat. Go to the Silo level with invincible Bond on. Select the plastique explosives from your watch and throw it on the wall. Now, shoot the explosives with your gun. Wherever you run, the explosions will follow you and kill everything in your path.”

Bonus Fact: Did you know there was originally an elevator in the silo level?

15. There’s a hidden emulator with 10 bonus games!

That’s right. There’s a fully functional emulator for the ZX Spectrum system, complete with ten original games. Getting to it is a bit of a pickle though. It was originally made as an experimental side project by Rare, but was deactivated in the final build. However several fan-developed patches allow modern emulators to unlock the bonus content.

(ROM Hacking)

If all of this has you feeling nostalgic, you can cop an original (refurbished) N64 along with GoldenEye 007 on eBay for the reasonably affordable price of just $79.99.

There are also emulators available online, but be wary of spammy links and ads. Seriously.

(GIPHY)

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.

Check out our previous edition where we featured crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Super Mario.

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Super Mario

15 Crazy Facts About Super Mario
(Twitter/forestillusion)

Despite making his professional gaming debut way back in 1981’s arcade classic Donkey Kong, there are still quite a few things that people don’t know about everyone’s favorite high-flying, mustachioed plumber.

We’ve done a seriously deep dive into Super Mario Bros history to bring you some information that, honestly, probably would have gotten our butts shoved into a locker back in high school. Fortunately, this is a safe space, and if you somehow already knew all ten of these deep-cut Nintendo nuggets, you definitely hold a special place in my nerdy little heart.

1. Super Mario Bros. had a cheat for infinite lives

Early video games were notorious for being difficult. Battled your way to that final boss only to lose your last life before finishing him off? Start over from the beginning, pal. You’re further than you’ve ever gotten but your mom says it’s time for dinner? No save files here, buckaroo.

Super Mario Bros. was no different… or wasn’t it? Most folks think it’s back to ol’ World 1-1 when your lives drain down to zero, but what they don’t realize is that by holding the A button and hitting Start, you can start back at the beginning of the World in which they died. What?!

It’s true. It says so right in the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide. Seven-year-old me is furious.

Nintendo Manual Code
(Nintendo)

2. “Yoshi” isn’t Yoshi’s Full Name

Just because Yoshi gets roped in as a tool for Mario’s bidding immediately following being hatched from an egg (as a fully-grown, shoe-wearing adult, I might add), doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give him the courtesy of acknowledging him by his full name.

Rediscovered by Blake Harris back in 2014 via an internal character guide, the bipedal green dino’s actual name is “T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas.” No word yet regarding what the ‘T’ stands for yet—Tyrannosaurus? Transportation? Tanner?

If it stands for Tanner, I don’t even feel bad for tossing him into that pit.

(Nintendo)

3. Jackie Chan indirectly influenced Super Mario Bros.

Designer Shigeru Miyamoto has previously said how much the game Kung-Fu influenced his work on Super Mario Bros. The games’ bright colors and smooth side-scrolling are clearly reminiscent of each other, but most people don’t know the Jackie Chan connection.

While the US version of Kung-Fu featured a random guy named Thomas (cue the eye-rolls), the Japanese version was directly licensed under the Jackie Chan film Spartan X (known in America as Wheels on Meals). Unfortunately, the face-punching wasn’t one of the things added to Mario’s repertoire of moves.

4. Mario was originally going to shoot guns and ride a rocket

Just because punching guys Jackie Chan-style wasn’t ever really in the works for Mario, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a much more badass version of him in development at one point in time. Before he was the turtle-stomping, mushroom-eating hero we know and love, Mario was less ‘plumber’ and more ‘John McClane.’

Early concepts of the game armed our hero with a beam gun and rifle and split the game between on-foot stages and shooting stages in which Mario rode on a rocket or cloud. This likely inspired aspects of the shooting stages in Super Mario Land on the Gameboy.

5. The Warp Zones exist solely because of Excitebike

Have you beaten the original Super Mario Bros? Okay, okay… but have you beaten is without warps?? If not, you owe your success to a certain motocross game on the NES.

Excitebike was Shigeru Miyamoto’s last game before hitting it big with Mario and Zelda, and the game featured a course selection screen that the game designer really appreciated. If you wanted to try your luck on the hardest course on your first try, there was nothing stopping you.

Miyamoto wanted to implement a similar feature in Super Mario Bros but was worried people would skip right to the end before honing their jumping skills in earlier levels. The solution: Warp Zones… but not before getting a feel for the game in Worlds 1-1 and 1-2.

6. The firebar was taken from Legend of Zelda

If you’ve ever taken a stroll through one of Bowser’s many, many castles (seriously, who is this guy’s real estate agent?), you’ve undoubtedly noticed these spinning fiery death traps.

What you might not have realized was that the same obstacle can be found in 1991’s A Link to the Past. Originally created for 1986’s The Legend of Zelda before both Mario and Zelda were either in the public eye, the firebar eventually made its way from Hyrule to the Mushroom Kingdom to give us even more grief.

7. All Toads are genderless

Probably something none of us ever really needed to know, but it’s true. The squat little citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom cannot be identified by any specific sex despite the traditional gender norms you might associate with their colorful headgear.

In an interview with Gamespot, Nintendo producer Koichi Hayashida revealed that “Toads are a genderless race that take on gendered characteristics.” Furthermore, he clarified that Toad and Toadette are not romantically involved at all, but are simply the closest of friends and “adventure pals,” which is pretty damn beautiful, too, right?

(Nintendo)

8. Bowser and Peach boozed it up in Super Mario Kart

There isn’t a lot of censorship that occurs in modern Nintendo releases, but some of the initial games that made their way across the Pacific to Western audiences included a few tweaks—one of which is a big fat NO to alcohol.

Apparently, worried about the backlash should they include booze in any of their G-rated games, Nintendo changed the victory animations for Bowser and Peach from guzzling champagne to something a bit more kid-friendly. Sure, I can fall into a deadly pit of lava or get completely crushed by a thwomp but a little bubbly is simply too much.

(Nintendo)

9. Goombas were the last enemy added to Super Mario Bros.

That’s right, the first baddie you ever encounter from Bowser’s army was, in fact, the last one added. In the final stages of production, Miyamoto decided the game needed a simple enemy that could be defeated with one hit. With very little memory left on the cartridge, developers created what was basically a little brown blob with eyes and one giant eyebrow, and the infamous goomba was born.

Bonus facts: In Japan, Goombas are referred to as “Kuribo,” which roughly translates to “Chestnut People.” So, imagining them roasting on an open fire is technically festive! And did you know Goombas have arms?

10. If you wait long enough, the Hammer Bros will chase you down

I wish I was lying. If you wait long enough, these hammer-wielding Koopas will eventually get sick of your shit and go straight into a berzerker-rage mode. Word to the wise: Don’t make the guy tossing around giant metal tools angry.

11. Mario’s full name is Mario Mario… kind of

It sounds like a joke a 5-year-old would make up, but it’s actually true. True Mario fans will remember the ridiculous line from the aptly named 1993 cult classic Super Mario Bros film when Bob Hoskins’ Mario claims his full name to be “Mario Mario.” Apparently, the joke tickled Miyamoto so much, he decided to roll with it.

“I heard this and laughed rather loudly,” he said in an interview with Game Informer. “Of course, this was ultimately included in the film. Based on the film, that’s [how] their names ended up. But, just like Mickey Mouse doesn’t really have a last name, Mario is really just Mario and Luigi is really just Luigi.”

12. A copy of Super Mario Bros. recently sold for over $100,000

Who says video games can’t pay the bills? This mint copy of Super Mario Bros is one of two “sticker-sealed” copies of the game produced between 1984 and 1985 specifically for test markets in New York and L.A., making it the rarest of rare.

Past games have reached five figures in various auctions but this bad boy was the first to break $100k.

(US Gamer)

13. The beta version of Super Mario Kart had very different music

Sure, it was just a placeholder before the final kickass version of the Mario Kart 64 theme was created, but it’s pretty fun to think about just how many versions of these games are produced before we finally get our greedy little hands on them.

Twitter user Forest of Illusion shared an alternate version of the intro music that was created for a prototype titled Mario Kart R.

14. Super Mario Bros. is stored on a 256-kilobit cartridge

Yes, kilobits. And 256 kilobits is the equivalent of 32 kilobytes. This means you could fit roughly 250,000 cartridges-worth of Super Mario Bros on your 64 GB smartphone if you wanted to. But that would be silly and pointless so don’t do that. I said DON’T.

15. The Mario backstory is actually dark as hell

If you were one of the few who actually read the Super Mario Bros instruction manual, you were treated to one weeeeeeird narrative that few people know about. Apparently, Bowser and the Koopas are black magic-wielding wizards who have turned the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom into bushes, blocks, and mushrooms. The remaining townsfolk were gruesomely transformed into the evil thrall-like chestnut men.

That means every block you smash and brick you shatter is actually an innocent person getting straight-up murdered. Congratulations! We’re all monsters.

(Nintendo)

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.