Jaws Everett Richard Dreyfuss Shark

Dock Tales

10 Crazy Facts You Might Not Know About Jaws

Catch a Jaws movie marathon this month on IFC.

Posted by on

In the summer of 1975, Jaws scared beachgoers away from the water and into the safety of dark movie theaters, culminating in the first Hollywood blockbuster. Much of the history surrounding the making of Jaws has become the stuff of legend, from feuding actors to problems with the mechanical sharks. We took a deep dive and fished up these 10 crazy facts about the making of a cinematic classic that make crusty old fisherman Quint look sane. Dip your toes in…if you dare.

1. The shark was named “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer.

Everett Collection/Universal Pictures
Everett Collection/Universal Pictures

Bruce Ramer was (and still is) a prominent entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, so when the crew was building the three large mechanical sharks for the film, they jokingly nicknamed them after Spielberg’s attorney. “The Bruces” proved problematic throughout the shoot, and according to screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, were more often referred to by the crew as “that sonofabitchin’ bastard rig,” “the great white turd,” and other names too NSFW to print. Pixar paid homage to Spielberg’s “Bruce” in 2003’s Finding Nemo, giving one of their own shark characters the same lawyerly moniker.


2. The Orca sank for real and nearly ruined an entire day’s footage.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

The entire ocean portion of the Jaws shoot was plagued with technical difficulties, but no one expected the Orca to actually begin sinking with Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss onboard. Due to a malfunction, the boat started leaking, causing Spielberg to send another boat in a mad dash to retrieve the actors and crew from the sinking ship. One camera was submerged, but technicians were able to salvage the film inside, saving Spielberg from having to add yet another day to his already backlogged (and waterlogged) shooting schedule.


3. Richard Dreyfuss and Elizabeth Taylor shared the same stuntman.

When shark experts Ron and Valerie Taylor were shooting underwater footage of Great White sharks off the coast of Australia for the film, they were unable to find any close enough in size to the one described in the script, let alone one that would dwarf Richard Dreyfuss. Spielberg’s solution was to hire 4’11” stuntman Carl Rizzo to serve as Dreyfuss’ onscreen double to make the real sharks appear larger in scale. Unfortunately, Rizzo mostly only had experience riding horses (he doubled for child actors like Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet) so he was terrified throughout the entire underwater shoot and refused to go back into the cage to film the climactic scene where the shark attacks the cage.


4. Robert Shaw ducked the IRS during the shoot.

Everett Collection/Universal Pictures
Everett Collection/Universal Pictures

Shaw drank quite a bit on set and was often a volatile presence, but he also frequently worried about his taxes. The native Brit was reportedly being pursued by both the IRS and British taxmen, causing the actor to flee the country on weekends for Canada to avoid facing a tax liability for spending too many hours on U.S. soil. In fact, Shaw had to forgo his salary on the film in order to make amends with the IRS for his charges of tax evasion. Sadly, it would seem both that Bruce the shark and loan sharks bested Shaw.


5. One of the scariest scenes was shot in a swimming pool.

There’s no question one of the biggest scares in Jaws comes courtesy of fisherman Ben Gardner’s head popping through an underwater hole in his chewed up boat. More surprising than Ben’s severed head is that the scene was reshot in editor Verna Fields’ swimming pool in Van Nuys, California, six months after principal photography wrapped in New England. Unhappy with the original version, Spielberg borrowed the props and some film equipment from the Universal backlot and set everything up in Fields’ pool, adding milk to the water to give it the same murky look as the water in Martha’s Vineyard. The scene was seamlessly cut back into the film and has been making audiences jump ever since.


6. The actor who played the Mayor of Amity got skunked.

Murray Hamilton

Sharks weren’t the only predators terrorizing the cast. Murray Hamilton, who played greedy Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn, was out having dinner and drinks with castmate Jeffrey Kramer (who played police officer Lenny Hendricks) and went to pet what he thought was a cat on his walk back to his hotel.  Having had quite a few cocktails, Hamilton was pretty buzzed and didn’t notice it was actually a skunk he was attempting to pet, which sprayed him all over. Kramer had to help Hamilton bathe in tomato juice to get rid of the stench.


7. Roy Scheider started a food fight during a cast and crew dinner.

Roy Scheider laughing

Tensions were constantly running high during the lengthy, challenging shoot, so it’s no surprise everyone was looking for ways to blow off some steam. One night while the entire crew was having a catered buffet dinner at the Kelly House on Martha’s Vineyard, Roy Scheider flung a fistful of mashed potatoes and gravy into Spielberg’s face. Richard Dreyfuss, seizing his opportunity, hurled his plate of dessert at Scheider, and soon the entire crew (including the hired help serving the food) joined in the brouhaha. When the food fight ended, Dreyfuss, Scheider, and Spielberg all jumped in the swimming pool to clean up. Did that mashed potato fight perhaps inspire Dreyfuss’ Devils Tower sculpture in Spielberg’s next film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind?


8. George Lucas got stuck inside the mechanical shark’s mouth.

Drink Jaws

Perhaps as a sign of things to come, Spielberg had trouble with the mechanical sharks before shooting even began. When George Lucas came to visit friends Spielberg and uncredited screenwriter John Milius in the special effects shop, he stuck his head inside Bruce’s mouth. Spielberg and Milius decided to play a prank on Lucas and closed Bruce’s jaws on him, but the controls jammed, leaving Lucas stuck inside. Bruce’s jaws had to be pried open in order to rescue the future Star Wars director from a most embarrassing predicament.


9. Richard Dreyfuss hurled Robert Shaw’s drink into the ocean.

Robert Shaw, who played crusty shark hunter Quint, was famously drunk throughout the making of Jaws. His drunken behavior caused him to butt heads with Richard Dreyfuss, so much so that when Shaw announced to the cast and crew that he wished he could stop drinking, Dreyfuss grabbed Shaw’s glass of booze and tossed it into the sea. When it came time to film Quint’s famous monologue about the sinking of the Indianapolis, Shaw was wasted and Spielberg deemed the footage unusable. Shaw was so remorseful that he begged Spielberg for another try. He came back the next day sober, and nailed the intense monologue in one take.


10. Spielberg slept with a stalk of celery under his pillow throughout the shoot.

Everett Collection/Universal Pictures
Everett Collection/Universal Pictures

Despite making a name for himself with gritty TV work like the killer trucker flick Duel, the then 27-year-old Steven Spielberg was coming off of the Goldie Hawn box office flop The Sugarland Express when Jaws went into production. A perfectionist by nature, the young filmmaker was under mounting pressure from the studio, producers, and the film’s accountants to deliver even in the midst of mechanical problems, inclement weather, and temperamental actors. Spielberg had several mental breakdowns and spent many sleepless nights in his cabin amid growing fears he was going to be taken off the film. To combat his anxiety and insomnia, he had a pillow sent from his home in California and slept with a stalk of celery underneath, because the smell soothed his nerves. Maybe if Quint had celery in his pocket he wouldn’t have ended up in a shark’s belly.

 

Watch More
Hank-Azaria-Red-Carpet

Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

Watch More
Port_S7_CarNotes_tout_1

Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

Posted by on

If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

Watch More
CBB_502A-OhHelloShow_MPX-1920×1080

Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

Posted by on

The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet