In 2003, Fox Searchlight released Thirteen, a dark coming-of-age story about 13-year-old Tracy who begins experimenting with substances, self-harm, and more.
The movie was written by first-time director Catherine Hardwicke and the film's co-star, Nikki Reed, who was just 14 when production began. It's based on Reed's experiences, with Evan Rachel Wood starring as Tracy, the character inspired by Reed.
The rest of the cast of Thirteen includes Holly Hunter as Tracy's mother Melanie, whose performance earned her an Oscar nomination. All in all, the movie was a critical success, even if some producers were afraid to get involved with the controversial project. As can be expected, the creation of a project this contentious involved plenty of interesting behind the scenes moments, and some of the lesser-known bits of Thirteen trivia make the production even more captivating.
Catherine Hardwicke Rushed The Movie So Nikki Reed Could Star In It
After Catherine Hardwicke and Nikki Reed wrote the Thirteen screenplay together, Hardwicke wanted Reed to play the part of Evie. However, this meant they were racing against the clock, since Reed was about to turn 14 and would not be able to convincingly portray a 13-year-old for much longer.
Hardwicke set a goal to make the movie by summer 2002, even if she had to mortgage her home to finance the project. Hardwicke got a $2 million budget for the film, with producer Jeffrey Levy-Hinte raising half the funds.
Evan Rachel Wood's Belly-Piercing Expletive Was A Genuine, Unscripted Reaction
The movie features a scene where Evie gives Tracy a navel piercing. While Evie is attempting the procedure on Tracy's stomach, she has a moment where she exclaims, "What the f*ck did you do?"
As it turns out, that line was not scripted. Nikki Reed had inadvertently poked Evan Rachel Wood with the needle, giving her a scratch (with a lasting scar as a souvenir). In the moment, Wood blurted out the line, and it made the final cut.
The Movie Made It Difficult For Nikki Reed To Repair Her Relationship With Her Mother
In the movie, Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) starts experimenting with a risky lifestyle in part because of a lack of attention from her mother, Melanie (Holly Hunter). Since this was inspired by Nikki Reed's real-life relationship with her mom, creating the film made rekindling their bond even more difficult.
"Religious people who we don't even know are calling my mom, telling her she should burn in Hell and that God hates her," Reed said after the movie came out in 2003. "My mom can't defend herself to the world. She is such an amazing woman, with such an open heart. It's a real hard line, and I crossed it."
Co-Star And Co-Writer Nikki Reed Based The Movie On Her Life
Nikki Reed didn't just co-star as Tracy's troubled friend Evie, she also co-wrote the movie when she was 13 years old. The script is based on her relatively recent experience trying to fit in with a popular crowd, including a friend getting busted for selling crystal.
Around the time of the film's release, Reed said Thirteen is "80% true, or part-true." Of spending time with a dangerous crowd, she said, "When I was with them, I thought I had everything... I would walk down the hall like I was queen of the world. It was an invincible feeling... Then they were gone, and I had no friends. I was sitting home all day alone. I had no defense."