It’s not enough to avoid spoilers from people who watch
David Fincher got off to a rough start n Hollywood, directing Alien 3 and seeing his film butchered and compromised and rushed along. Thankfully, he was given another shot, and his follow up film is one of the best of its kind to ever exist. Se7en changed the face of serial-killer thrillers. It is a dark, brutal, unsettling masterpiece, with brilliant turns from both Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt.
As we near it’s 20th anniversary, here are 17 things about Se7en you may not have known.
1. When Mills and Somerset inspect John Doe’s apartment, they find hundreds upon hundreds of memo books, all completely filled with writing. These were real. They took two months to complete and cost $15,000.
2. All the building numbers in the opening scene start with 7. The climactic delivery was scheduled for 7pm. Brad Pitt was also paid $7 million for the film.
3. Andrew Kevin Walker had enormous difficulty getting a studio to buy the rights to his script because he was a complete unknown in Hollywood. Allegedly, he put together a list of agents that represented writers that work in the crime and thriller genres, and just called each one up until he got a positive response.
4. The original script had a strange, dwarf-like woman as part of the forensics team, appearing in every one of the “cleanups” after a murder and hurling foul language and epithets at Somerset and Mills.
5. Before filming began, Kevin Spacey – who plays the uncredited John Doe – asked David Fincher if he should shave his head and he told him “If you do it, I’ll do it” and so they were both bald for the rest of the film.
6. An edited-out sequence near the beginning had Somerset looking over the country home he’s planning on moving into. He uses his switchblade to cut loose a rose on a fragment of silk wallpaper and carries it with him throughout the movie. The rose falls out of his jacket as he is taking off his gun before eating with the Mills family. The rose is briefly visible in the opening scene, sitting atop a handkerchief on Somerset’s dresser.
7. During the scene before Pitt and Freeman walk into the district attorney’s office, the camera zooms into a newspaper announcing the murder. A small article in the corner of the front page says that a family were held hostage by their guinea pig for three days…
8. While the film never indicates the city, there are some hints. When Somerset is in his apartment, he can be heard listening to a radio broadcast of John F. McClellan. McLellan was a Boston disc jockey who did live Tuesday night broadcasts from the Boston club Storyville, on WHDH radio in the early 1950s.
9. The primary influence for the film’s screenplay came from Andrew Kevin Walker’s time spent in New York City while trying to make it as a screenwriter. “I didn’t like my time in New York, but it’s true that if I hadn’t lived there I probably wouldn’t have written Seven.”
10. Several actors passed on the project. Denzel Washington, Nicolas Cage, and Kevin Costner passed on the Pitt role, and Al Pacino passed on Somerset.
11. When looking for the part of Victor, the man held captive for exactly a year (sloth), David Fincher stated that he wanted to find someone who was incredibly skinny, around 90 pounds Michael Reid MacKay auditioned, and at the time weighed 96 pounds. Fincher gave him the part and jokingly told him to lose some more weight. Much to his surprise, MacKay turned up to filming having lost another 6 pounds.
12. Gwyneth Paltrow was David Fincher’s first choice for the part of Brad Pitt’s wife, having impressed him with her work in Flesh and Bone. Paltrow was initially not interested, so Fincher had to ask her then boyfriend – Brad Pitt – to get her to come in and meet with him.
13. While filming the scene where Mills chases John Doe in the rain, Brad Pitt fell and his arm went through a car windscreen, requiring surgery. This accident was worked into the script of the film. Coincidentally, the original script did call for Pitt’s Det. Mills character to be injured during this sequence–but to something other than his hand.
14. As preparation for his traumatic scene in the interrogation room, Leland Orser would breathe in and out very rapidly so that his body would be overly saturated with oxygen, giving him the ability to hyperventilate. He also did not sleep for a few days to achieve his character’s disoriented look.
15. Originally, Morgan Freeman drew his pistol with his finger on the trigger. Police officers that were on the set as technical advisors quickly corrected him, as that is not correct police procedure.
16. Entertainment Weekly voted Se7en the 8th scariest film of all time.
17. New Line executives originally balked at the film’s ending, but Brad Pitt refused to make the film if the ending were changed.