14 Turbulent Behind-The-Scenes Stories From ‘Con Air’

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 14 Turbulent Behind-The-Scenes Stories From ‘Con Air’
Voting Rules

Vote up the behind-the-scenes stories that make you appreciate Con Air's high-flying '90s action even more.

There is no shortage of memorable moments from 1997's high-flying blockbuster Con Air, but some of the most interesting facts about the movie happened behind the scenes. Nicolas Cage as an honorably discharged Army Ranger with a slow, Southern drawl feels irreplaceable - but did you know that some other A-list action stars were also up for the role, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Seagal?

One of Con Air's best scenes, when the Jailbird crash lands into a Las Vegas casino, actually used the real Sands Hotel and Casino, which was set for demolition. Even the film's soundtrack has an all-time oddity. The song "How Do I Live" was actually recorded by two separate artists and released at the same time, creating a Billboard duel that the music industry had never experienced before.

Check out this list of unbelievable Con Air behind-the-scenes stories and, as the movie's tagline says, "Buckle up!"

  • 1
    57 VOTES

    The Plane Used In The Movie Crashed In 2010

    In August 2010, Con Air experienced another fatal crash, but sadly this time it wasn't on the big screen. William H. “Wild Bill” Michel, a career pilot who owned the actual C-123 airplane used during the filming of Con Air, was forced to crash land the craft while transporting freight in Alaska.

    According to his sister, Michel made an attempt to bring the plane down on a road near Denali National Park, but it would have been at the risk of hitting a tour bus. Instead, Michel diverted the plane to a more dangerous landing, and lost his life as a result.

    57 votes
  • 2
    77 VOTES

    A Welder Tragically Lost His Life On Set

    During production in August 1996, a special effects crew member named Phillip Swartz was crushed by a cargo plane while on set.

    Swartz, a welder, was employed by a Los Angeles-based contractor called Special Effects Unlimited, which was working on the film in Wendover, UT. Sadly, his wife Colleen learned of the tragic news that evening after traveling to Wendover to attend a country music concert with her husband.

    Phillip Swartz received a dedication in the film's credits.

    77 votes
  • 3
    50 VOTES

    Nicolas Cage Did All His Own Stunts

    Several A-list Hollywood tough guys were up for the role of Poe alongside Nicolas Cage, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Steven Seagal. Perhaps that's why, when Cage landed the role, he wanted to prove that producers had made the right choice by doing all his own stunts.

    In a behind-the-scenes interview, Cage recalled what an intense and demanding experience it was: "There were explosions five feet behind me, flaming helicopters dropping right behind me, ball-bearing bullets over my head."

    If Cage's intent was to place himself among the action royalty he beat out for the role, then he definitely achieved it in Con Air.

    50 votes
  • 4
    70 VOTES

    John Malkovich Had A Rough Ride On Con Air

    Like Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich didn't have the role of Cyrus "the Virus" Grissom handed to him. Other actors up for the part included Ed Harris, Tim Robbins, and Gary Oldman. Ultimately, though, he may have regretted coming out on top.

    Malkovich, a former member of the prestigous Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, didn't appreciate the fact that constant last-minute script changes made it difficult for him to play the character.

    Frustrating as it may have been, it certainly didn't stop him from producing brilliant line reads like, "Make a move and the bunny gets it."

    70 votes
  • 5
    50 VOTES

    The Plane Crashed Into The Real-Life Sands Casino

    Big-budget productions like Con Air often involve building huge, elaborate sets, only to blow them up. Fortunately for director Simon West and his crew, the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas was already scheduled for demolition - so the filmmakers seized the opportunity.

    Yes, in Con Air's action-packed conclusion, the production team actually crashed a plane into the front lobby of the real-life Sands.

    Months after filming, on November 26, 1996, the remainder of the historic hotel was demolished by controlled detonation on live TV.

    50 votes
  • 6
    40 VOTES

    Nicolas Cage Had Some Say In The Script

    According to the man himself, it was Nicolas Cage's idea to have Poe travel with a pink stuffed bunny aboard Con Air. As he told an interviewer, "I wanted that to be symbolic of all the pain and loss he had gone through just for protecting his pregnant wife."

    Whatever the symbolism, the bunny provided one of the most memorably absurd moments in the film, where Poe repeatedly screams at fellow convict Billy Bedlam, "Put the bunny back in the box!"

    It's also worth mentioning that Cage was responsible for Poe having a Southern accent, which he achieved by spending time in Alabama during pre-production.

    40 votes