David Fincher's 1999 film Fight Club was a box-office flop, thanks to its controversial and polarizing nature. A weak ad campaign didn't help, either. In the years since, the movie has been widely reassessed, and is now considered by many to be a modern masterpiece. The film's edgy nature and stinging commentary on a consumer-driven culture made it just a bit ahead of its time. It took a while for audiences to digest what Fincher was doing with his adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel.
As expected, a movie as wild as Fight Club had its share of wild occurrences off-camera. There were battles over dialogue, drunken antics from stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, and even the murder of someone closely connected to the film. Whatever weirdness transpired during the production, the result was one of the key motion pictures of the 1990s - a work that spoke to the frustration and anger that had been simmering under a section of our society for a long time. These stories will help you appreciate it even more.
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Brad Pitt And Edward Norton Were Drunk During The Golf Scene
During a small but unforgettable moment in Fight Club, Tyler and the Narrator are outside hitting golf balls, one of which hits a truck on the street. That moment wasn't in the script. It came about out of sheer luck, and the stars weren't acting in that particular moment.
Pitt and Norton had a few drinks and were fairly tipsy. During a break in the filming, they went outside and began whacking golf balls into the side of the production's catering truck. David Fincher saw them doing this and immediately grabbed a camera to capture their behavior. It looked good and seemed true to the characters, so he included this impromptu shot in the finished movie.
Inspiration is a curious thing for any writer. It can come from literally anywhere and end up fueling your greatest work. When a story is as intentionally dark and twisted as Fight Club, it's reasonable to wonder where the writer got the idea. As it turns out, the book was inspired by a real fight author Chuck Palahniuk got into.
He was on a weekend camping trip when some other campers began blasting music too loudly. Palahniuk asked them to turn it down, and a physical scuffle ensued, leaving his face cut and bruised. The melee also caused a light bulb to turn on in his head. Palahniuk noticed that when he returned to work, nobody asked him how he got his bruises.
He later recalled, "I realized that if you looked bad enough, people wouldn’t want to know what you did in your spare time. They don’t want to know the bad things about you."
With that, Fight Club was born.
Meat Loaf was obviously best known as a singer, but he had a number of prominent acting roles, as well, including in the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In Fight Club, he plays Robert Paulson, one of the members of the brawling association. Because he was generally interested in filmmaking, he would often sit behind David Fincher during takes in which he did not appear. This allowed him to see what Fincher was seeing.
The director noticed and subsequently invited Meat Loaf to join him in the editing room to help pick out the best takes. This led to him having a direct influence over the final cut. The singer recalled:
The first time [Fincher] did that, I said, "I can’t do that," and he goes, "Yeah, you can. You’ve been sitting next to me, so help me pick out the best one." His average take was 44, so we’d sit there and watch 40 takes, and he’d go, "Which one did you like the best," and I’d say something like, "Well, it’s either 24 or 26," and he’d say, "I agree with you, 26."
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Author Chuck Palahniuk's Father Was Murdered While The Film Was In Post-Production
Although having his book turned into a movie was exciting for author Chuck Palahniuk, the experience also came with some profound heartbreak. He suffered a personal tragedy when his father was murdered during the post-production period. The author recalled,
I was in the middle of this publicity tornado and I was about to do an interview with Time magazine when a publicist called me. She said: "I just got a call from the Latah County Sheriff’s office. They found your father’s car outside a burned-down house and they think your father might be dead."
Fred Palahniuk had just met a woman through a lonely hearts ad. Her abusive ex-husband, recently released from jail, followed them home after a date, then shot them and set fire to the house. The culprit was sentenced to life in prison for his crime.