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Trivia / Natural Born Killers

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: It was Robert Downey Jr.'s idea to make Wayne Gale Australian.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Like his character, Tommy Lee Jones is from Texas.
  • Banned In China: In late 1994 the film was banned from theatrical distribution in Ireland. The Irish Film Centre, which is a membership club and not subject to the same rules as public theaters, booked the film and had it scheduled to screen for a month long run in early 1995. The film censorship board threatened legal action if the film was shown, and it was withdrawn. The ban itself was quietly rescinded some time later.
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  • Based on a Dream: The idea for the image of the headless man came to Oliver Stone in a dream.
  • Channel Hop: The Director's Cut was originally released by Trimark, because Warner Bros., the original distributor, wanted nothing to do with it at the time after the censored R-rated version had already caught enough flak as it was. Warner later had a change of heart and took over distribution of the Director's Cut starting in 2009.
  • Creator Backlash: Quentin Tarantino was quite vocally critical of all of Oliver Stone's changes to his script. In particular, he absolutely hated the Sitcom sequence.
  • Deleted Role: Peter and David Paul (of The Barbarians fame) as the Hun Brothers.
    • Irony: This is one of the few moments of the (uncut) movie more-or-less faithful to Quentin's original script. Doubly ironic when you realize that Quentin himself had only written this scene because the real-life bodybuilders on whom the Brothers are based had been interested in funding the film (long before Quentin had sold the script off), on the condition that they'd have a cameo… and that, therefore, Quentin wasn't particularly fond of the moment.
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    • Denis Leary and Ashley Judd had cameos that were cut, the former as a ranting prisoner and the latter as a trial witness.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Oliver Stone wanted Juliette Lewis to bulk up for the role of Mallory so that she looked tougher, but Lewis refused, saying she wanted the character to look like a pushover, not like a female bodybuilder. In the end, Stone agreed, but he insisted she take kick-boxing lessons so that she looked credible when fighting.
  • Fake Australian: Australian reporter Wayne Gale is played by American Robert Downey Jr..
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Rodney Dangerfield wrote all the "filthy stuff" his character said. Oliver Stone didn't give the comedian a script; he simply told Dangerfield he was going to play "the father from hell."
  • Life Imitates Art: Sadly, the film inspired numerous copycat instances. See here.
  • Playing Against Type:
  • Revival by Commercialization: This film is pretty much single-handedly responsible for the success of the Cowboy Junkies version of Sweet Jane.
  • Spared by the Cut: Oliver Stone's original ending had Mickey and Mallory end up murdered by the prisoner who helped them escape.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Wayne Gale's Australian accent. Robert Downey Jr.. observed and spent time with Steve Dunleavy, an Australian shock-TV host, and returned to filming with the accent. Not the last time he would use this accent, by the way.
    • Mallory's line to Scagnetti about him being "so specific" when he asks her to pinch his nipple was improvised by Juliette Lewis on set.
    • Lewis improvised much of her dialogue, a fact which annoyed Robert de Niro when he found out, as he felt she was disrespecting the film's writers.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Tarantino's script was considerably different compared to Stone's. In short, the Knoxes were far darker and less sympathetic characters, emphasizing their unrepentant violence and lacking the Freudian Excuse and moralizing that Stone's script gave them, while Jack Scagnetti was originally written as a burned-out police officer living on past glory instead of a Dirty Cop. Wayne Gale was also less outright villainous, never directly killing anyone.
    • As this Cracked article points out, had Tarantino directed and used his original script, the film could well have been a phenomenal success and, combined with Reservoir Dogs, launched his career years earlier. Michael Madsen has commented that, had Tarantino retained ownership of the project, he would likely have starred as Mickey.
    • When putting together the music for the film, Oliver Stone and soundtrack producer Trent Reznor both wanted to get Snoop Dogg involved, but Warner wouldn't allow it, as Dogg was on trial for murder at the time.
    • Michael Madsen was initially considered for the role of Mickey, but Warner Bros wanted somebody less intimidating, and with a softer persona, as they felt this might alleviate the brutality of the character somewhat. The studio wanted to cast a name, such as Kevin Costner, John Cusack, Mel Gibson or Brad Pitt. Ray Liotta was suggested, but Stone didn't think he was sexy enough.
    • Rosanna Arquette pursued the role of Mallory.
    • Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth were both offered the role of Wayne Gale and turned it down. Jane Hamsher claims in her book about the movie that they did so because Quentin Tarantino told them he would never cast either of them in any of his movies again if they took the role. John Cusack also passed on it.
    • Gary Oldman, Chris Penn and James Woods were considered for Jack Scagnetti.
    • Oliver Stone offered Jack Palance the role of Warden McClusky. He turned it down due to the amount of violence in the script.
  • Word of God: According to Oliver Stone, the headless man is Mickey's father, who killed himself by blowing his own head off with a shotgun. The three shots of the headless man all occur during scenes of great strife and tension for Mickey (during his dream at the Indian's house, during his interview with Wayne Gale, and during the prison riot), and they could represent the fact that even though his father is dead, Mickey is still not free of him. When things get tense, and when pressure starts to build, Mickey automatically thinks of his father, a man who made his early life miserable. In the third shot of the headless man, he is rising out of the chair, and starts moving towards the camera, possibly representing Mickey's fear that he may still come and "get him".


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