25 On-The-Set Facts From Stanley Kubrick Films Most People Don't Know About.

Stanley Kubrick has affected the world of cinema life very few people before or after him. His amazing effects, ability to communicate universal human experience with subtly, and his perfectionism have made most of his films canon.

Here are twenty-five facts from the sets of his films most fans aren't aware of.

Check out more awesome facts from the sources at the end of this article!

1/25. In the Shining, for the scene in which Jack breaks down the bathroom door, the props department built a door that could be easily broken. However, Jack Nicholson had worked as a volunteer fire marshal and tore it apart far too easily. The props department were then forced to build a stronger door.

2/25. Eyes Wide Shut is notorious for its secrecy during production and the secrecy even divided the two main stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. To exaggerate the distrust between their fictional husband and wife, director Stanley Kubrick would direct each actor separately and forbid them to share notes.

In one painful example, for just one minute of final footage where Alice makes love to a handsome naval officer-an imaginary affair that haunts Bill over the course of the film-Kubrick demanded that Kidman shoot six days of naked sex scenes with a male model. Not only did he ask the pair to pose in over 50 erotic positions, he banned Cruise from the set and forbade Kidman to assuage her husband's tension by telling him what happened during the shoot.

3/25. During filming, a family of rabbits were accidentally killed. Stanley Kubrick, an animal lover, was so upset that he canceled the rest of the day's work.

4/25. R. Lee Ermey was involved in a jeep accident during the making of Full Metal Jacket. At 1:00 a.m. one night he skidded off the road, breaking all the ribs on his left side. He refused to pass out, and kept flashing his car lights until a motorist stopped. In some scenes you'll notice that he does not move his left arm at all. Stanley Kubrick claimed in an interview that it took four and a half months before Ermey could return to work in which production simply had to be suspended since he was involved in all the remaining scenes.


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5/25. The entire centrifuge section of the Discovery spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey was constructed as a single set. It was designed to rotate for shots such as the sequence in which Frank went jogging so that the actor remained on the bottom.

6/25. In A Clockwork Orange Malcolm McDowell's eyes were anesthetized for the torture scenes so that he would film for periods of time without too much discomfort. Nevertheless his corneas got repeatedly scratched by the metal lid locks.

7/25. For The Shining, because Danny Lloyd was so young and since it was his first acting job, Stanley Kubrick was highly protective of the child. During the shooting of the movie, Lloyd was under the impression that the film he was making was a drama, not a horror movie. In fact, when Wendy carries Danny away while shouting at Jack in the Colorado Lounge, she is actually carrying a life-size dummy so Lloyd would not have to be in the scene. He only realized the truth several years later, when he was shown a heavily edited version of the film. He did not see the uncut version of the film until he was seventeen - eleven years after he had made it.

8/25. When shooting 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick worked for several months with effects technicians to come up with a convincing effect for the floating pen in the shuttle sequence. After trying many different techniques, without success, Kubrick decided to simply use a pen that was adhered (using newly invented double-sided tape) to a sheet of glass and suspended in front of the camera. In fact, the shuttle attendant can be seen to "pull" the pen off the glass when she takes hold of it.

9/25. Stanley Kubrick had nothing but praise for R. Lee Ermey's skills as a performer in Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick originally was going to write dialogue for Ermey's character himself, but he became so impressed with what Ermey improvised, that he decided it wasn't necessary. He just let him ad-lib, something practically unheard of for a Stanley Kubrick film. Ermey's performances were so faultless that Kubrick only needed 2-3 takes to get his scenes filmed, also extremely rare for a Kubrick film. The only instance Ermey had to film more than 2-3 takes was in the Jelly Doughnut Scene - which he claims was filmed in 37 takes, to the point his voice kept disappearing from time to time.


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10/25. Stanley Kubrick once again made good on his reputation of infamous perfectionist while filming Eyes Wide Shut after shooting a scene with an actor tapping a window. Kubrick liked the scene but was not satisfied with the tapping sound that was recorded. Rather than simply rerecording the sound with a stand-in, he had the same actor flown back to the set to reproduce the sound.

11/25. For Barry Lyndon, Contrary to legend, this film did use artificial lighting in some scenes (for example, when Brian learns he's getting a horse). However, it is true that no electronic lighting was used for the candle-lit scenes. A lens built by the Carl Zeiss company for N.A.S.A., a fifty millimetre Zeiss lens modified with the Kollmorgen adaptor used in still cameras, was used to shoot scenes lit only by candle. This lens had the largest aperture of any ever built for movie use (f/0.7).


12/25. While shooting aerial footage for Dr. Strangelove over Greenland, the second unit camera crew accidentally filmed a secret US military base. Their plane was forced down, and the crew was suspected of being Soviet spies.

13/25. Since the censors would allow nothing close to a suggestion of pedophilia, Lolita's age had to be increased from 12 in Vladimir Nabokov's original novel to 14 for the film. They also objected to a scene where Humbert Humbert was to gaze at Lolita's picture while in bed with her mother Charlotte; in the end, the scene was filmed with Charlotte lying fully dressed on the bed and Humbert lying beside her wearing a robe.

14/25. The snake in A Clockwork Orange, Basil, was introduced into the film by Stanley Kubrick when he found out Malcolm McDowell had a fear of reptiles. This was to make McDowell's character seem more intimidating, and as a practical joke by Kubrick.

15/25. The doctor standing over Alex as he is being forced to watch violent films was a real doctor, ensuring that Malcolm McDowell's eyes didn't dry up.


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16/25. There were so many changes to the script of The Shining during shooting that Jack Nicholson claimed he stopped reading it. He would read only the new pages that were given to him each day.


17/25. Having calculated that it would take one person 13 years to hand draw and paint all the mattes needed to insert the assorted spacecraft into the starry backgrounds for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick hired 12 other people who then did the job in one year.

18/25. To make Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann's performance and the recruits' reactions in Full Metal Jacket as convincing as possible, Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio, and the other actors playing recruits never met R. Lee Ermey prior to filming. Stanley Kubrick also saw to it that Ermey didn't fraternize with the actors between takes.

19/25. Due to Stanley Kubrick's fear of travel virtually the entirety of Eyes Wide Shut was shot in and near London (despite the movie's New York setting). Elaborate street sets built at Pinewood Studios were used for all the scenes showing Tom Cruise walking around the city.

20/25. On the set of Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick used to play the soundtrack's classical music during takes to get the actors in a better mood. He was reportedly influenced by Sergio Leone's method in Once Upon a Time in the West.

21/25. The scene where Gen. Turgidson trips and falls in the War Room, and then gets back up and resumes talking as if nothing happened, really was an accident. Stanley Kubrick mistakenly thought that it was George C. Scott really in character, so he left it in the film.


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22/25. Major Kong's comment about the survival kit in Dr. Strangelove was originally "A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff". "Dallas" was overdubbed with "Vegas" after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Kong still mouths the word "Dallas".

23/25. Stanley Kubrick shot most of Peter Sellers' scenes in Lolita with two or three cameras at once. The actor did his most inspired work on the first take, so Kubrick used that technique to get all the angles he needed without losing spontaneity.

24/25. George C. Scott was reputedly annoyed that Stanley Kubrick was pushing him to overact for his role in Dr. Strangelove. While he vowed never to work with Kubrick again, Scott eventually saw this as one of his favorite performances. Many fans consider it some of his best work on-screen.

25/25. Alex performing "Singing in the Rain" as he attacks the writer and his wife was not scripted. Stanley Kubrick spent four days experimenting with this scene, finding it too conventional. Eventually he approached Malcolm McDowell and asked him if he could dance. They tried the scene again, this time with McDowell dancing and singing the only song he could remember. Kubrick was so amused that he swiftly bought the rights to "Singing in the Rain" for $10,000.


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