Trivia / American Beauty

  • Corpsing:
    • Lester and Ricky laughing when Carolyn finds them smoking weed was Kevin Spacey and Wes Bentley actually cracking up. The director just left it in.
    • The scene where Lester rattles off a list of euphemisms for masturbating had to be re-shot several times, because Kevin Spacey kept shouting out different euphemisms and Annette Benning was collapsing into hysterical giggles.
  • Creator Cameo: The producer plays the bartender at the place where Ricky works.
  • Dawson Casting: Downplayed with Mena Suvari, was about 19 or 20 at the time playing the teenage Angela (this was probably necessary — depicting an adult character lusting over a teenager who was actually played by a teenager likely would've turned a lot of people off to the movie. Not to mention potentially made the actress involved uncomfortable), and with Wes Bentley, who was also 20. Averted by Thora Birch, who really was 16, meaning that for her brief topless scene her parents and child labor representatives were on the set for the shooting.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Kevin Spacey actually did bulk up that much. He had to change his posture to accommodate for several scenes being shot out of order.
  • Follow the Leader: Is said to have been the movie that inspired Desperate Housewives. It inspired a lot of other 'dark heart of suburbia' movies too.
  • Throw It In:
    • Spacey was only supposed to drop the plate in the dinner scene, but he wasn't getting the right reaction, so after a few takes, he threw the plate against the wall as hard as he could.
    • The scene where Lester attacks Carolyn's feet with a remote control car was also unscripted, and Annette Bening's surprise and annoyance are a real reaction.
    • He also improvised everything Lester does in the car while stoned, singing along to "American Woman".
    • The 'look closer' tagline was inspired by something the set dresser had put on Lester's cubicle at work. Sam Mendes only noticed it in the editing and thought it would make a good marketing slogan.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The film was originally written as a stage play.
    • The opening shot was originally going to have Lester flying through the air, above all the houses and down into his bed.
    • Barbara was supposed to have more dialogue, and conversation scenes with her husband. Sam Mendes however chose to cut them, feeling her character was conveyed far better through her silence.
    • A pivotal sequence in the original script would have Jane and Ricky seeing a car crash on the freeway, which was changed into Ricky's line about filming a dead homeless woman to cut costs. The part where Jane decides to walk home with Ricky rather than ride with Angela was then added in to make up for it.
    • An earlier draft would have given Col. Fitts a gay lover who had died in Vietnam.
    • A huge subplot was filmed and eventually cut from the final film. Jane and Ricky would be on trial and convicted for Lester's murder - with the video of Ricky jokingly asking if she wants him killed incriminating them. Barbara Fitts would find her husband's bloody t-shirt and hide it, implying he'll get away with it. Additionally it would show that Carolyn and Buddy King would get married, while Angela would be seen on a Baywatch style TV show. Sam Mendes dropped it because he felt it ruined the tone of the story.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Trivia/AmericanBeauty