“10 Things You Don’t Know”: Brad Pitt & More Celeb Facts
Perhaps not always about the right things (You’re not really supposed to idolize Tyler Durden, though it’s understandable why some guys might) and perhaps not right away, because the film was a commercial flop.
But eventually the epiphanies poured forth, about detachment, moral decay and materialism, about the id that lurks within, about how one movie can be so simultaneously appreciated and thoroughly disliked.
Or maybe it just makes you think about Brad Pitt‘s abs. Here are 20 intense things to know about Fight Club:
2. Word on the street, put there by Palahniuk himself, was that the derogatory use of the word “snowflake”—these days a term for a delicate, easily offended person—originated with Fight Club, when Tyler leaves a note reading, “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone, and we are all part of the same compost pile.”
Esquire pointed out in 2017, as the alt-right latched on, that the word had been in circulation as meaning more than a piece of snow since at least the 1860s, when it was a political designation.
David Fincher, who had previously worked with Brad Pitt in Se7en, got it. He tried to buy the rights, but they belonged to 20th Century Fox. After not enjoying the experience with Alien 3, he didn’t really want to work with the studio again. But after meeting with Ziskin, he agreed, so long as instead of a gritty low-budget affair he could make a gritty big-budget affair and, he recalled, “to put movie stars in it and get people to go and talk about the anticonsumerist rantings of a schizophrenic madman.”
4. Even when James Uhls set about adapting the screenplay, he thought it would be fun “but this will never get made,” Uhls told Raftery.
Ed hit him.
“It’s the first punch of the movie and I hit him in the ear, and he says—Fincher came up to me and said, ‘hit him,’ you know, connect with him somewhere,” Norton shared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon recently. “And I didn’t know what to do. And I hit him in the ear, and he says in the film, ‘Ah! Why the ear?!'”
“I’m the guy who’s got everything,” he remarked at the time, but “once you get everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.”
Norton also got it, observing after reading the book in one sitting that “it took aim right at what a lot of us were starting to feel,” he told Raftery. “The book was so sardonic and hilarious in observing the vicissitudes of Gen-X/Gen-Y’s nervous anticipation of what the world was becoming—and what we were expected to buy into.”
It was Pitt who encouraged Fincher to check out Helena Bonham Carter in her Oscar-nominated role in the (naturally) period drama The Wings of the Dove. Even though her own mother considered the Fight Club script “a pollutant,” Carter took the meeting with Fincher and signed up.
Norton, recalling how Carter couldn’t stop laughing on more than one occasion, told Raftery, “She couldn’t get through a take without breaking up. It was like, ‘you know Fincher’s already going to do 40 of these takes—do you really want to make it 70?'” He said that, at 129 days, it was the longest shoot of his career.
“They sent me the script and Ed and Brad Pitt wrote to me and said ‘We really think you should do this,'” Yorke told BBC 6 in 2018. “I went, ‘Nah, I can’t.’ And I couldn’t. I wouldn’t have been able to do it then, but every time I see the film I go, ‘Oh…'”
Instead, the Dust Brothers, Michael Simpson and John King, provided the post-modern sound Fincher had in mind. He “wanted it to be like a bee is stuck in your ear,” Simpson described their marching orders to Raftery. “He wanted to give the audience the impulse to leave the theater before the opening credits were done.” King added, “There’s a schizophrenic quality to the music. But perhaps that’s appropriate for the movie.”
“It’s very, very thick with ideas,” Norton told reporter Jimmy Carter at the time. “This is a zeitgeist film. It’s a film that, if we catch the spirit of this book, in this film, we’ll have really held a mirror up to the culture at a certain time.”
Asked if his character was insane, the actor said that he thought it was a fair question. “I’ve always thought on a certain level the movie is metaphoric,” Norton added. “It’s a study of a person going a little bit insane, going insane to save himself, in a way.”
“It’s a bombardment of information, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Pitt said.
“I think that’s a little bit reductive,” Norton told Carter, “in the sense that I don’t think it’s a proclamation like that, but I think it’s an examination of why men feel [frustrated].”
“It is true, we are in PC times, where you don’t yell, you don’t fight,” Pitt told Carter, “and yes, this possibly is the more evolved place—but you have to experience the other to get there. You can’t just skip that step and go straight to ‘I don’t fight, I don’t argue.'” Schoolyard-type fights, for him, were “innocuous,” almost “a rite of passage,” the actor explained, and the movie basically points out that the instinct some people have to settle arguments with fists didn’t just evaporate.
“We needed something where the audience members would cheer the destruction of the world,” producer Ross Grayson Bell told Raftery.
The special effects-reliant scene took almost a year to finish.
17. Fox wasn’t too thrilled that 20th Century Fox corporate headquarters is one of the buildings that gets blown up at the end, though Fincher did get permission from studio chairman Bill Mechanic, who was then fired in 2000.
Now CEO of Pandemonium Films, Mechanic told Raftery that okaying the destruction of the Fox tower on film was his “anti-Murdoch thing. My ‘f–k you.'”
“Edward and I are laughing out loud, we’re like the obnoxious Americans laughing at our own movie,” Pitt recalled the movie’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival. “And there’s a particularly offensive joke from the Marla character [her morning-after joke about sex and grade school], and at that point [the head of the festival] just got up and left.”
“I thought these were going to be rabid cinephiles,” Fincher added. “And I think the median age of the audience was 73.”
“It was dead silent,” Pitt continued. “And we proceeded to howl even harder. We had a great experience. We thought…we were on to something.”
Norton remembered to Raftery, “It got booed. It wasn’t playing well at all. Brad turns and looks at me and says, ‘That’s the best movie I’m ever gonna be in.’ He was so happy.”
But that initial lack of interest—and the enduring distaste for the movie in some circles—helped cement Fight Club‘s status as a cult classic.
Though very much of its time, Fight Club still holds up as a brutal but not unsympathetic look at the havoc all this stuff continues to wreak on society, as well as an aggressive fantasia about what saying f–k-all to consequences really looks like.
Moviegoers aren’t always ready to look in that cultural mirror when it’s held up to them. But Fincher also wanted to make people uncomfortable, so in that, he couldn’t have scripted a better outcome.