Trivia: American Beauty

  • Dawson Casting: Downplayed with Mena Suvari, was about 19 or 20 at the time playing the teenage Angela. 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.
    • Wes Bentley, however, was 29; although he did look a lot younger than that, he didn't look quite young enough for high school.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Kevin Spacey actually did bulk up that much.
  • Enforced Method Acting / 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.
  • What Could Have Been: The screenwriter, Alan Ball, originally wrote American Beauty for the stage, and in early drafts of the script, there was a prologue and epilogue in which Ricky and Jane are framed for and convicted of Lester's murder.
    • Chevy Chase and Jeff Daniels were two initial choices for the role of Lester.
    • Terry Gilliam also turned down the offer to direct this movie