Trivia / Being There

  • Actor Allusion: Subtle and probably not intentional, but a few minutes after Chance watches Sesame Street, longtime Muppeteer Fran Brill shows up to play Sally Hayes.
  • AFI's 100 Years… 100 Laughs: #26
  • Banned in China: Because it was potentially offensive to Christians, the original South African cut dropped the final scene.
  • Creative Differences: Even though he's credited as the sole screenwriter, Jerzy Kosinski had almost no involvement with the film, since he and Hal Ashby had a different vision for the story, and Kosinski was busy with other work. Kosinski submitted a screenplay draft, but it wound up being largely rewritten by Ashby associate Robert C. Jones. Kosinski appealed to the Writers Guild for a full credit and got it, reportedly by submitting one of Jones's drafts and claiming that he actually wrote it.
  • Doing It for the Art: Beyond the effort he made to get the movie off the ground in the first place, Peter Sellers gained weight to play Chance despite chronic and worsening heart problems — and he hated how he looked this way — solely because he thought Chance would be overweight given his sedentary lifestyle. He lost the weight as fast as he could after filming, which may or may not have been a contributing factor to his death.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Played with. Sellers let his gray hair show, unlike in most of his later films, but he did have it cut. As described above, he also risked his failing health to gain weight for the role.
  • Fake American: Peter Sellers, a Brit, as Chance. In the film, Chance lives in Washington, D.C., but Sellers intentionally plays him without any kind of specific regional dialect/accent as per a description in the book. To pull this off, Sellers took (British) Stan Laurel's voice and gave it a generic "American" accent. Sellers was a huge fan of Laurel and Hardy and openly admitted to using Laurel's screen persona to inform his performance as Chance, which makes this a big Shout-Out of sorts.
  • Lzherusskie: Richard Basehart, an American, as the Russian ambassador.
  • Playing Against Type: Sellers had such range that saying he had one type isn't accurate, but audiences knew him best as Large Ham Funny Foreigner Inspector Jacques Clouseau by 1979 due to the role dominating his career comeback. This much more serene character and story certainly was a change of pace.
  • Reality Subtext: Sellers never hid his motivations for wanting to play Chance. He even had business cards made up with Chance's name in place of his own, and was known to occasionally confuse people by suddenly assuming Chance's persona — and this was before the film was greenlit.
  • Saved from Development Hell: It took a long time getting the rights from Kosinski (he wanted to make a film version on his own; he did co-write the film that was made), as well as getting financial backing.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: For the end of The '70s via the fashions and all the authentic TV footage used.
  • What Could Have Been
    • Solely because of the "I like to watch" scene, Laurence Olivier turned down the role of Ben Rand, the role which Melvyn Douglas won a Supporting Actor Oscar for. Burt Lancaster was also considered for the part.
    • At one point in the mid-'70s, it was announced that Gore Vidal was going to write the screenplay.
    • The filming script's ending was significantly different than what was ultimately conceived and used. Eve follows Chance after he wanders away and they head back together. He leaves his umbrella behind to shield a small tree — that would have been the highly symbolic final shot. This ending was shot, and a publicity still from the press kit was drawn from it, but the actual scene didn't surface until the 2009 Blu-Ray disc.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The ending came about because of a comment that Hal Ashby made to a friend about how impressive Peter Sellers was in his performance and his willingness to try new things: "I could have this guy walking on water at the end of the film!"
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