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Trivia / Five Easy Pieces

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: The moment at the end of the diner scene where Bobby sweeps all the glasses off the table after arguing with the waitress was inspired by Jack Nicholson actually doing this himself once at a coffee shop, when the manageress took his coffee away despite him only having just arrived, because the group of fellow actors he'd joined had been there for hours and were being told to leave.
  • California Doubling: The first part of the film takes place in California, but in the less glamorous Central Valley oil fields near Bakersfield (though Robert visits Los Angeles in one scene). The Dupea family estate and its surroundings are supposed to be in Washington state, but the scenes were actually filmed in and around Victoria, British Columbia. Some of the road trip scenes (including the "chicken salad sandwich" bit) were filmed in the Eugene, Oregon area.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Susan Anspach auditioned to play Rayette, but ended up as Catherine when Carol Lynley, who originally was cast in the role, backed out.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Samia, the pompous dinner guest who disses television as part of her condescending comments toward Rayette, was played by Irene Dailey, who was already a TV vet by that point, and would go on to a long tenure as Liz Matthews on Another World, even winning a Daytime Emmy for her performance. No doubt Samia takes the very existence of Soap Operas as an affront to her intellect.
  • One-Take Wonder: Bobby's scene with his father only required one take.
  • Wag the Director: There was some disagreement between Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson as to how to play the climactic scene in which Bobby talks to his father. Rafelson wanted Nicholson to break down in tears, Nicholson did not want to. They decided to just let the scene play out and see what happened, and Nicholson did indeed cry. Only one take of that scene was shot.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • In the original script, Catherine Van Oost was supposed to be an older woman. But Bob Rafelson transformed her into a young beauty, who is Carl's protégé.
    • Dustin Hoffman was considered for Bobby.
    • Ellen Burstyn was considered for Rayette.
    • Janis Joplin was approached to play Palm, the hitchhiking ecology freak.
    • Carole Eastman wanted Jeanne Moreau as Catherine.
    • The original ending had Dupea driving his car off a bridge.note  Rayette survives the crash, he does not.
  • Write What You Know: Bob Rafelson, who was credited with co-writing the story with Carole Eastman, was, according to an interview he gave on the Criterion edition of the DVD, someone who liked to substitute items on whatever he ordered at restaurants, and gave that trait to Bobby. Years later, according to an article written about him for Esquire in 2019, he was at a restaurant, he asked for a substitution, and the waitress, after refusing him, said, "You've seen that movie", to which he replied that he made that movie.
  • Written By Castmember: Jack Nicholson wrote some of his own lines for the monologue Bobby says to his father.