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Trivia / Se7en

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  • Cast the Runner-Up: R. Lee Ermey originally auditioned for John Doe.
  • Doing It for the Art: All of the books in John Doe's apartment? They're all real. One of the special effects companies hired for the film spent two months hand-writing every single one of them, mostly by one guy who showed exceptional talent at writing journals like a crazy insane sociopath. He even included an authentic suicide note...
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  • Dyeing for Your Art: Kevin Spacey shaved his head to play John Doe, on the condition that David Fincher do so as well.
  • Enforced Method Acting: During the Sloth victim discovery scene, there's a big startle when the apparent corpse on the bed coughs and starts moving, revealing himself to still be alive, albeit totally gone. None of the SWAT team were made aware of the moment before filming, thinking they were dealing with a prop corpse, not an actor. The first take, with their organic shocked reactions, was the one used in the film.
  • Executive Meddling: Somerset's Ernest Hemingway quote at the end of the film was a sop to producers complaining about the film's extremely dark ending. David Fincher's original plan was to have the film cut or fade to black immediately after Mills shoots Doe in the head.
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  • Follow the Leader: Compare it with later Theme Serial Killer flicks like Resurrectionnote , Taking Lives, Anamorph, Horsemen, WΔZ, Suspect Zero or Saw. Of course that's not to say Se7en didn't borrow some elements from The Silence of the Lambs (and, for that matter, The Abominable Dr. Phibes...).
  • Method Acting:
    • The actor who played the Sloth victim (Michael Reid MacKay) weighed 96 lbs. at his audition, and David Fincher joked that he could have the part if he dropped another ten. Much to Fincher's surprise and horror, MacKay dropped six.
      • MacKay claims that the above is actually only a rumor - he joked to David Fincher that he had lost weight for the role, and Fincher apparently thought he was serious. On the other hand, Fincher did tell him (in order to create the impression that Victor is dead) not to breathe.
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    • The man who was forced by John Doe at gunpoint to rape the Lust victim to death is disturbed to the point of hyperventilating. The actor who played him, Leland Orser, sat himself in a corner, breathing very quickly in order to induce hyperventilation in himself to keep his performance authentic. He also stayed up for two straight nights before filming in order to seem believably exhausted and stressed out.
  • Playing Against Type: R. Lee Ermey, the Drill Sergeant Nasty par excellence, plays a mellow and soft-spoken police captain.
  • Real-Life Relative: Morgan Freeman's son Alfonso has a small cameo as the fingerprint technician.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: Originally, New Line Cinema had no intention of using the infamous Downer Ending of Andrew Kevin Walker's first draft, and Walker reluctantly went along with it. However, when contacting David Fincher, they actually sent him the wrong version of the script — i.e., Walker's original vision. which was faithfully adapted into the film itself. Fincher read it, loved it, and joined the production, and then refused to change the ending when the executives objected.
  • Spared by the Cut: One of the re-written endings involved John Doe kidnapping Mills. Somerset discovers that Doe was raised by an abusive priest in a church orphanage. He finally traces Doe to a decrepit church decorated with artwork depicting the Seven Deadly Sins, where Doe is intent on making Somerset murder him out of vengeance. As Somerset arrives, Doe has cut a cross in Mills' chest, has suspended him above an altar and shoots him. Mills finally dies in Somerset's arms as the church is set on fire. Doe and Somerset subsequently engage in a shootout, with Somerset wounding Doe and letting him die in the flames. The script ends with Mills' funeral.
  • Stillborn Franchise: Seven years after the movie was released, there were plans for a sequel called (wait for it) Ei8ht, telling the story of a psychic cop (Somerset) who developed a connection with the serial killer he was hunting. David Fincher commented that he would rather have cigarettes put out in his eye than ruin Se7en with such a ridiculous sequel concept. The sequel was eventually scrapped when Morgan Freeman also refused to return, but the idea evolved into the 2015 movie Solace (starring Anthony Hopkins as the psychic).
  • Throw It In!:
    • Brad Pitt hurt his handnote  filming the scene in which his character chases John Doe. Although the script required a (probably minor) injury, the cast and such were written into the film.
    • Mills' mispronounciation of the Marquis de Sade's name (see It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY" on the Film page) was an ad-lib by Brad Pitt. The first time he did it, Morgan Freeman laughed out loud and said "Even Mills isn't that stupid!" Clearly, Fincher disagreed.
    • Mills angrily pressing his gun into John Doe's head shortly after his "What's in the box?" line was reportedly improvised by Pitt in the heat of the moment, slightly corroborated by the small smirk Kevin Spacey can be seen giving afterwards.
    • The police captain picking up the phone and answering "This is not even my desk!" was an ad-lib by R. Lee Ermey getting fed up with the phone's constant ringing.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Andrew Kevin Walker wrote the screenplay with William Hurt as Somerset in mind. Al Pacino was offered the role, but he was busy with City Hall. Gene Hackman turned it down because of the night shoots involved. Robert Duvall and Harrison Ford were also considered.
    • Denzel Washington, Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone and Nicolas Cage were all considered to play David Mills. Washington refused the role, finding the content of the screenplay too disturbing, and specifically expressed regret at not accepting the role after attending a screening (that was the main reason why he later starred in the Se7en-influenced supernatural thriller Fallen).
    • Ned Beatty and Michael Stipe were considered for John Doe. Val Kilmer was also offered the role, and he recommended Kevin Spacey.
    • Christina Applegate was offered the role of Tracy Mills.
    • An alternate ending revealed that John Doe did not murder Mills' wife, only substituting a lookalike. Mills then has no justification for killing an unarmed man, and will spend the rest of his life in jail. Somerset decides not to retire, and instead gives his country house to Mills' wife and her unborn baby. Another alternate ending features a dramatic shootout in a burning, dilapidated church in which Mills dies, and yet another had Somerset killing John Doe in order to save Mills from becoming "Wrath." In the finished film, the foreshadowing that Somerset will have to actually shoot his gun (or use his knife) is kept, but nothing comes out of it with the ending changed.
    • However, Executive Meddling did have its way, as the resolution of Somerset reciting the Hemingway quote was studio-mandated. The ending Fincher originally wanted (and prefers more) had the film stopping immediately after Mills first shot Doe and holding on black for a good 10 seconds.
    • When the movie was first pitched to execs, they had the screenwriter revise the film so it would be more marketable (happier ending, not as bleak, etc.). But when they sent the script to David Fincher, they accidentally sent him the original script instead of the revised one. Before they could correct their mistake, Fincher refused to make this film if the revised script was used.
  • Written-In Infirmity: After Brad Pitt severed a tendon in his hand, scenes were added to show why his character was wearing a cast.

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