Edit
Less Than Zero (1987) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (1) | Spoilers (1)
According to the the 'Robert Downey Jr Film Guide' web-site, 'Marek Kanievska' suggested Robert Downey Jr. and Andrew McCarthy should go out and party to 'get into character' which ended with Downey in the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard, howling at the moon, and McCarthy had to bail him out of jail.
Bret Easton Ellis hated the film initially. He admits that the film bears no resemblance to his novel but that it captured, "a certain youth culture during that decade that no other movie caught", and felt that it was miscast with the exceptions of Robert Downey Jr. and James Spader. Furthermore, he has said, "I think that movie is gorgeous, and the performances that I thought were shaky seem much better now. Like, Jami Gertz seems much better to me now than she did 20 years ago. It's something I can watch".
Because the novel didn't have a central plot or a core set of protagonists, but was more a set of interwoven events happening to a larger group of friends, this film differs considerably from the novel. In a surreal twist, the sequel novel, 'Imperial Bedrooms', has the original novel's characters aware of the film version of "Less Than Zero".
Brad Pitt was paid US $38 for his uncredited cameo appearance.
First film where Robert Downey Jr. was billed as "Robert Downey Jr." whereas all previous productions Downey had been billed simply as "Robert Downey".
Second of three films featuring James Spader and Robert Downey Jr.. The first was 1985's Tuff Turf (1985) and the third is 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
A test screening of 15 to 24 year olds revealed that the sample disliked Robert Downey Jr.'s character. So reshoots were conducted with additional footage to show his and Jami Gertz's characters in a better light which included the happy and celebratory early graduation sequence.
The movie is notable for Robert Downey Jr.'s performance playing a drug addict with Downey off-screen having a real-life drug addiction.
Both the book and film of Less Than Zero (1987) and its reported sequel, titled Imperial Bedrooms, are named from an Elvis Costello song and album respectively. "Less Than Zero" is the first single off of the "My Aim is True" (1977) album whilst "Imperial Bedroom" is the name of Costello's 1982 album.
In an interview, source novelist Bret Easton Ellis once said of this film adaptation of his book 'Less Than Zero': "Of course, I envisioned everybody in the book as blonde and everybody in the movie is a brunette".
Cinematographer Edward Lachman has said that the completed picture was originally a lot edgier and the 20th Century Fox studio, who felt the property was too edgy anyway and had limited the film's cost budget, wanted to tone down the movie and make it more commercial audience friendly, and did this by taking the film away from director Marek Kanievska in post-production.
Keanu Reeves was originally to play the character of Clay Easton. The part was in the end cast with Andrew McCarthy.
Jami Gertz is the actress who plays Blair in this movie based on the first novel by Bret Easton Ellis. In another book written by Ellis, "American Psycho", Patrick Bateman inquires about actress Jami Gertz at the Video Visions video store in New York's Upper West Side. The video store clerk does not know who Gertz is. Bateman then fantasizes briefly about having sex with Gertz while trying not to pay attention to someone talking to him.
According to the 1987 article "Sanitizing a Novel for the Screen" published in 'The New York Times', Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael Cristofer, who wrote a screenplay for this film that got rejected, said the experience working on this film was an ugly one.
Unlike the film, in the novel Clay is identified as bisexual.
Robert Downey Jr. plays a drug addict in the film. This proved prophetic, as he suffered drug and alcohol addiction in later life. He recalled: "Until that movie, I took my drugs after work and on the weekends. That changed on Less Than Zero (1987), the role was like the ghost of Christmas future. The character was an exaggeration of myself. Then things changed and, in some ways, I became an exaggeration of the character".
7 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film was made and released about two years after its source novel of the title name by Bret Easton Ellis had been first published in 1985.
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Third of three films featuring James Spader and Andrew McCarthy. The first movie was Pretty in Pink (1986) and the second picture was Mannequin (1987). All three titles were first released during 1986-1987.
8 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The party sequence with all the television screens was filmed at a real 1980s Hollywood nightclub in Los Angeles.
Producer Marvin Worth in June 1985 first optioned the film rights to Bret Easton Ellis' then unpublished "Less than Zero" novel by purchasing an option for the small amount of US $7,500 on the proviso that the 20th Century Fox film studio would make the movie.
7 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Cinematographer Edward Lachman remembers that originally the film was a lot "edgier" and that the studio took it away from Marek Kanievska. He also recalled a scene he shot with Red Hot Chili Peppers: "The Red Hot Chili Peppers were in that film and the studio became very conservative and they said, 'Oh the band, they're sweaty and they don't have their shirts on.' They destroyed an incredible Steadicam shot, all because they had to cut around them being bare-chested".
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The producers and 20th Century Fox studio executives frequently argued about amount of decadence that would be depicted in this movie with the film being "meetinged to death" as the New York Times reported.
6 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The last name of Andrew McCarthy's character, Clay Easton, is the same name as the middle name of source novelist Bret Easton Ellis. Clay's surname was not given in Ellis' source "Less than Zero" novel. Its use here in this film is a direct reference to the author.
6 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
American and Hollywood directorial debut of British director Marek Kanievska.
4 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Some of the film's english translations of this film's foreign film titles, according to the "Robert Downey Jr. Film Guide" website, were as follows: "Argentina: Corrupción en Beverly Hills (Corruption in Beverly Hills); Brazil: Abaixo de Zero (Less than Zero); Denmark: Livet i overhalingsbanen (Life in the Fast Lane); Finland: Alta Nollan (Under Nothing); France: Neige sur Beverly Hills (Snow on Beverly Hills); Germany: Unter Null (Under Zero); Israel: Young in Trap (English translation); Italy: Al Di Là Di Tutti i Limiti (Beyond All the Limits); Poland: Mniej Niz Zero (Less Than Zero); Spain: Golpe al Sueño Americano (A Blow to the American Dream); [and] Sweden: Noll Att Förlora (Nothing to Lose)".
4 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The movie was filmed during May, June and July 1987.
4 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Second of two films featuring actor James Spader and actress Jami Gertz. The first had been the Brooke Shields 1981 movie Endless Love (1981) made and released about six years earlier.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The movie was the first filmed adaptation of a written work by Bret Easton Ellis with the movie's source "Less Than Zero" book being Ellis' first novel as well.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
James Spader and Robert Downey Jr. also starred together in Tuff Turf (1985). They would later reunite in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Marek Kanievska was hired as director for two reasons and these were based on his direction of his critically acclaimed 1984 film Another Country (1984). This was because Kanievska had in that film (1) fashioned unsympathetic characters making them sympathetic and (2) been able to handle themes of bi-sexuality and sexual ambivalence.
3 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
According to the IMCDb, the make and model of Clay Easton (Andrew McCarthy)'s car, the film's signature vehicle, was a red 1956 or 1957 Chevrolet Corvette [C1] convertible.
3 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael Cristofer to write the screenplay. He stuck close to the tone of the novel and had Clay take some drugs but did not make him bisexual. The studio felt that Cristofer's script was too harsh for a commercial film.
1 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The studio wanted to appeal to Andrew McCarthy's teenage girl fans without alienating an older audience.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Clay's last name, not given in the book, is said by Julian to be Easton, a reference to the author of the novel, Bret Easton Ellis.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Studio executives and Jon Avnet argued over the amount of decadence depicted in the film that would not alienate audiences. Larry Gordon, President of Fox, and who had approved the purchase of the book, was replaced by Alan Horn who was then replaced by Leonard Goldberg, who found the material distasteful but Barry Diller, the Chairman of Fox, wanted to make the film.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Harley Peyton completed three drafts of the script. In his version, Clay is no longer amoral or passive. The studio still considered the material edgy and kept the budget under $8 million.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Star Billing: Andrew McCarthy (1st), Jami Gertz (2nd), Robert Downey Jr. (3rd) and James Spader (4th).
1 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Marek Kanievska was hired to direct because he had dealt with ambivalent sexuality and made unlikeable characters appealing in his previous film, Another Country (1984). Jon Avnet felt that Cristofer's script was "so depressing and degrading." Avnet instead wanted to transform "a very extreme situation" into "a sentimental story about warmth, caring and tenderness in an atmosphere hostile to those kinds of emotions".
0 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
There is speculation that the character of Clay was based on Bret Easton Ellis himself and that the events in the novel reflect the real life experiences of the author.
0 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Cameo 

Brad Pitt: Uncredited, as an extra/background artist portraying a preppy guy party-goer and seen as Clay enters the party at the beginning of the film.

Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The amount of money that Julian (Robert Downey Jr.) owed to Rip (James Spader) for drug debts was US $50,000.
5 of 20 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page