15 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Payback

PAYBACK, Lucy Liu, Mel Gibson, 1999. (c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Posted by on

There was nearly as much action and intrigue behind the scenes of this 1999 Mel Gibson flick as there was in the movie. Check out these 15 little-known facts about Payback.

1. Payback is based on the novel The Hunter by Donald E. Westlake.

The Hunter (written by Westlake under the pseudonym “Richard Stark”) was previously adapted for the screen in 1967 as Point Blank, directed by John Boorman and starring Lee Marvin.

2. Payback is Brian Helgeland’s directorial debut.

Before making Payback, Helgeland had primarily been known as a screenwriter—he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for 1997’s L.A. Confidential.

3. Mel Gibson and Helgeland met on set of the film Conspiracy Theory, which Helgeland wrote.

Helgeland showed Gibson the first 30 pages of the script for Payback and Gibson—acting on behalf of his production company, Icon Productions—guaranteed to make the movie if Helgeland could start shooting within 12 weeks.

4. Maria Bello was cast after Helgeland saw an audition she did for a completely different movie.

Helgeland was having difficulty finding an actress to play the Rosie character, so he took a look at a random group of Warner Brothers casting tapes. He came across the audition tape Bello made for a Superman movie that was never green-lit and liked it so much that he sought her out to play Rosie.

5. Helgeland was inspired by gritty crime dramas from the 1970s.

He used films like The Getaway, Dirty Harry, and Charley Varrick for visual references. In fact, the restaurant that Stegman takes Val to is named Varrick’s as a nod to Charley Varrick.

6. Albert Brooks and Ted Danson auditioned to play Val Resnick.

Gregg Henry (Scandal, The Killing) was ultimately cast.

7. Helgeland originally storyboarded the entire movie—only to scrap his plans.

Instead, he elected to block every shot on set each day to lend a more spontaneous and gritty feel to the film.

8. All of the film’s exteriors were shot in Chicago.

But all of the interiors were shot in Los Angeles.

9. Helgeland wanted to shoot the film in black and white.

But the studio wouldn’t let him. Instead, a bleach bypass process was done in post-production in order to filter down the film’s color tones to make it more reminiscent of a black and white movie.

10. All of the cars used in the film were from 1989 or earlier.

This gave the movie a throwback feel. Additionally, all of the phones are rotary phones. Helgeland didn’t want viewers to be able to pin down the era in which the film took place.

11. Helgeland was fired as director before the film wrapped production.

He and the studio disagreed over the original ending of Payback, and when a consensus couldn’t be achieved, Helgeland was fired. A new director was brought in to reshoot—these new scenes make up about 30 percent of the theatrical cut.

12. The studio couldn’t have had worse timing with Helgeland’s firing.

Helgeland got the axe just three days after winning his Academy Award for L.A. Confidential.

13. The original version didn’t have a voiceover.

Nor did it include Kris Kristofferson’s character, and it had a completely different ending.

14. The image of Mel Gibson from the film’s theatrical poster is from Helgeland’s original ending.

It doesn’t actually appear in the film’s theatrical release.

15. In 2007, Helgeland was able to re-cut the film into his original vision.

It was released as Payback: Straight Up—The Director’s Cut.

Watch More

Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

Watch More
Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

Posted by on

End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

Watch More

Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet