- Acting in the Dark: The script didn't explain what Wake and Winslow's characters were seeing when they are staring into the light of the lighthouse. When Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson were playing these scenes, they didn't know, either. The script only explained how their characters felt while looking at the light.
- Award Category Fraud: Willem Dafoe was campaigned as a supporting actor, despite the fact that most agree his role was that of a lead. While Robert Pattinson does have more moments from his point of view where Dafoe isn't seen, they're comparatively few to the scenes shared between them which make up the bulk of the movie. And despite Pattinson being the main viewpoint character, Dafoe's role is more talkative, having many long speeches in comparison to his more quiet costar. In the end, though, Dafoe didn't make any of the major awards ceremonies that year.
- California Doubling: Nova Scotia, Canada was used as a stand-in for Maine.
- Doing It for the Art:
- To give the movie its old-fashioned look, Robert Eggers shot it not only in black-and-white film but also in 1.19:1 aspect ratio, which old movies such as M were filmed in back in the '20s and '30s. He also used vintage Bausch & Lomb Baltar lenses from the '30snote and had custom short pass filters installed in the film cameras to emulate vintage orthochromatic photography. This limited the amount of light that the film in the cameras received and required more elaborate lighting setups.
- The lighthouse as shown in the movie is an actual functional 70-foot lighthouse that was specifically constructed for the movie.
- Dyeing for Your Art:
- Enforced Method Acting: The film was shot in Nova Scotia, and the weather conditions were just as miserable as they appear in the movie. And Eggers still went the extra mile to make it more uncomfortable for the two actors; Pattinson once complained that he felt like he was being sprayed by a fire hose, only for Eggers to reply that that was exactly what he was doing.
- Fake American: The English actor Robert Pattinson plays a character with an archaic New England accent.
- Method Acting:
- Pattinson went to some crazy lengths in his role as the mentally deteriorating Winslow, including licking puddles of mud, getting drunk to the point of pissing himself, and actually vomiting.
- According to Robert Pattinson, his and Willem Dafoe's radically different approaches to acting helped fuel the tension between their characters.
- Troubled Production: The stars described making the film as an unpleasant experience. Beyond the fact that the conditions were so harsh that Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson hardly talked outside of filming, the latter admitted he came close to punching director Robert Eggers in the face during the filming of one grueling scene involving them being sprayed in the face with a fire hose.
- The crew didn't fare much better. The film equipment was constantly breaking due to the absolutely miserable weather conditions, and sometimes the lens would fog up, thus ruining the shot. One scene of Robert Pattinson walking into the ocean had to be shot a whopping 25 times before the lens didn't fog up. Seagulls also plagued the area, and began bothering the cast and film crew, once the gulls quickly realized they were a source for food.
- What Could Have Been:
- In the original script, Thomas Wake had a glass eye, a peg leg, and three missing fingers. This was changed because Eggers felt the audience could misinterpret Wake as a pirate, and the effects necessary for his appearance would be too difficult under a tight budget.
- In the original script, when Winslow/Howard stares into the light at the end of the film, he burns his hand off when he reaches in to touch it.
- Anya Taylor-Joy apparently requested to portray the mermaid that Winslow sees in his mind, but Robert Eggers declined, telling her that portraying this particular mermaid might not be a good fit for her.
- Word of God: In multiple interviews, Robert Eggers confirmed that Winslow is meant to either be or represent Prometheus and Wake is similarly a representation of Proteus, which had been a popular interpretation of several key scenes, including the ending.
Trivia / The Lighthouse