Trivia: Donnie Darko

  • Acclaimed Flop: Its theatrical run was not very financially successful, largely attributable to its unusual, difficult-to-market premise and the fact that it was given a limited theatrical run because it came out shortly after 9/11. Critics reacted well to it, however.
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: Gary Jules' stripped down, Softer And Slower Cover of Tears For Fears' "Mad World" is arguably more popular than the film it came from.
  • Dawson Casting: Thankfully averted. The producers initially wanted, of all people Mark Wahlberg and Vince Vaughn to play Donnie.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While the film did dismal business in American theaters, it became a Sleeper Hit in the UK; an article in The Guardian upon the release of the director's cut claims that said success cemented its cult status. There is a documentary on the Director's Cut DVD all about its popularity in Britain.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Donnie's mother is played by Mary McDonnell, who later played Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica. Of course, this is just singling out one actor...
    • Oh hey, it's Crazy Steve! In a movie with a crazy protagonist.
    • Also, Seth Rogen plays the bully's sidekick in his first film performance.
    • Also, Ashley Tisdale, as a girl with a fat sister.
    • Topher Brink is Frank's clown passenger!
    • Don't forget Drew Barrymore as the teacher!
    • Or Doctor John Carter as the other teacher.
    • Katharine Ross as Donnie's psychotherapist.
    • Samantha is Daveigh Chase. Yes, you just heard Lilo say "fucktard."
      • While at the same time, and being equally surreal, seeing Samara Morgan do a dance routine.
  • One-Hit Wonder: Richard Kelly directed two other movies afterwards, but they both got poor reviews and aren't well remembered today. Likewise, the soundtrack's most famous song, the cover of "Mad World", is Gary Jules' only claim to fame and composer Michael Andrews' only chart presence.
  • Playing Against Type: Patrick Swayze, known for playing smooth heroic types, as a sleazy motivational speaker who is also a child molester.
  • Real-Life Relative: Brother and sister Donnie and Elizabeth Darko are played by brother and sister Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • Star-Making Role: This is the film that launched Jake Gyllenhaal's career.
  • Throw It In: Noah Wylie deciding his character was diabetic (watch for the Jolly Rancher candies).
  • Vindicated by Video: The film's cult really grew once it hit video, and with the internet becoming more commonplace led to various message boards and fan sites being created. Home video sales eventually led to the film making it's money back and spurred the creation of the (contested) Director's Cut.
  • What Could Have Been: Mara Wilson was apparently given a script to read for a role in the movie, but was evidentally freaked out over the Mind Screw of a script at a time she was already physically ill in her hotel room in England, and evidentally passed on the role as a result.