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Misery (1990) Poster

(1990)

Trivia

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"Misery" was almost turned into a Broadway play, with Julia Roberts as Annie Wilkes. King vetoed the idea because Annie is (in his words) "a brawny woman who can sling a guy around, not a pixie."
After refusing to speak about his motivations for writing "Misery" for two decades, Stephen King finally came out and stated that it is indeed about his battle with substance abuse. Kathy Bates' character is a representation of his dependency on drugs and what it did to his body, making him feel alone and separated from everything while hobbling any attempts he made at escape. In his statement, he said he did not come out with it at the time because he was not ready and because he was afraid it would detract from the story.
The "guy who went mad in a hotel nearby" is a reference to The Shining (1980), also based on a novel written by Stephen King.
As of 2014, this is the only Stephen King adaptation to receive an Academy Award.
One of Stephen King's first typewriters had a malfunctioning "N" key, just like the one used by James Caan in the movie.
Jack Nicholson was offered the role of Paul Sheldon but passed because he was not sure he wanted to do another movie based on one of Stephen King's novels, after what he had experienced with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining (1980).
Stephen King was quite impressed with Kathy Bates's performance in this film, so much so that he later wrote two more roles for her. The title role in his novel Dolores Claiborne (1995) was written with Bates in mind. King also wrote the script for The Stand (1994). His original novel featured a (male) character named Ray Flowers. Upon hearing that Bates wanted to be involved in the mini-series, King re-wrote the part as a woman, just so Bates could play the part.
In the original idea for the novel "Misery," Annie planned to kill Paul Sheldon by feeding him to Misery the Pig and take his skin to bind the book he had written. The title would have been "The Annie Wilkes 1st Edition."
Stephen King was initially reluctant to sell the film rights to "Misery" because he was skeptical that a Hollywood studio would make a movie faithful to his vision. However, King was impressed with one adaptation of his works, Rob Reiner's Stand by Me (1986), and agreed to sell "Misery" under the proviso that Reiner would either produce or direct the film.
According to the film's director, Rob Reiner, Annie Wilkes' killing spree is loosely based on that of Genene Jones, a nurse who is believed to have killed as many as fifty children who were in her care over a two-year period.
Annie Wilkes is Stephen King's favorite written character because she was always surprising to write, with unexpected depth and sympathy.
Stephen King had originally planned to release the novel under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman. While writing it, however, it was discovered that King was Bachman. King subsequently published the novel under his real name, and announced that Bachman had died from "cancer of the pseudonym."
According to William Goldman's book "Four Screenplays," the main character role, Paul Sheldon, was offered to William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, and Warren Beatty, all of whom declined.
In 1991, Kathy Bates became the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in a horror/thriller for her role as Annie Wilkes. The first performer to win an Oscar for a horror film was Fredric March for his performance as the title character in the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). The only other winners for acting in a horror film were Ruth Gordon for her performance as Mia Farrow's new neighbor with a hidden agenda in Rosemary's Baby (1968) (Best Supporting Actress of 1968), Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster for Best Actor and Best Actress in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and Natalie Portman for Best Actress in Black Swan (2010).
Stephen King novels are criticized for having a lot of swearing in them, something Annie berates Paul for in his latest novel, which is an obvious dig at King himself.
In a recent interview with Melvyn Bragg, William Goldman revealed that few actors wanted the role of Paul Sheldon because Annie Wilkes overshadowed him so much as a character. Warren Beatty commented before declining that the hobbling scene made Paul Sheldon "a loser for the rest of the film." Goldman was determined to keep that scene in the film as it was his favorite from the Stephen King novel.
James Caan accepted the lead role after Jack Nicholson turned it down. Caan had previously turned down Nicholson's role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), in which he also is the victim of a psychotic nurse, who also won an Oscar for her role.
Jessica Lange was up for the role of Annie Wilkes.
After seeing The Shining (1980), director Rob Reiner was immediately inspired to make a movie based on a Stephen King novel.
Annie was always intended in the novel to be an amalgam of Stephen King's scariest fans.
The main character, Paul Sheldon's, novels are published by Viking, the same publishing company that published Stephen King's books at that time.
Anjelica Huston was offered the leading role, and was interested, but was unable to accept it due to her commitment to The Grifters (1990). Bette Midler also turned the role down before it went to Kathy Bates.
Kathy Bates ended up getting upset over the violence. Caan recalled that his co-star was crying when it came time to shoot that infamous scene. Bates also cried before shooting the fight sequence at the end.
In the movie, Annie forces Paul to burn his manuscript which is "untitled" (as seen in the closeup). In the novel, Paul titles it "Fast Cars" and is a story reminiscent of 1950s detective dramas and 180 degrees away from the Victorian Era set "Misery" novels that made him famous.
William Goldman adapted his script for the stage for a limited run on Broadway during the 2015-2016 season. The play starred Bruce Willis as Paul Sheldon and Laurie Metcalfe as Annie Wilkes.
When Kathy Bates picked up her Oscar and made her speech, one thing she earnestly said was, "I'd like to publicly apologize to James Caan for the ankles."
When Paul's car is found, he is assumed to be dead, in a subplot original to the film. Coincidentally, on June 19, 1999, author Stephen King was hit by a car with some initial reports saying he had died. King eventually incorporated the accident into his book "The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower," which also briefly mentioned Annie Wilkes.
The character played by Frances Sternhagen was created entirely for the film and was not in the novel.
The film cast includes one Oscar winner, Kathy Bates; and four Oscar nominees, James Caan, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall and Rob Reiner.
A dress worn by Kathy Bates in her role as Annie Wilkes is on display at Planet Hollywood in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
A video of When Harry Met Sally... (1989) (also directed by Rob Reiner) is visible in the general store.
James Caan and Kathy Bates clashed over their acting methods. Caan believed in as little rehearsal as possible. Bates, with her theater background, was used to practicing a lot. When she commented to director Rob Reiner that Caan was not attempting to relate or listen to her, Reiner told her to use that frustration toward her character.
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James Caan once showed up to the set hungover and all of the scenes he shot that day were unuseable. Director Rob Reiner told Caan he had to do the scenes again because there was "a problem at the lab." When Caan learned it had nothing to do with labs, he offered to cover the money he lost the studio.
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Mary Tyler Moore wanted the role of Annie Wilkes.
Frances Sternhagen, who played the Sheriff's wife, was the voice talent for Dolores Claiborne on the audio book, which later starred Kathy Bates in the title role.
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George Roy Hill was at one point considered to direct.
James Caan had to stay in bed for fifteen weeks of shooting. Caan said he thought that director Rob Reiner was playing a "sadistic" joke on him, knowing the actor would not enjoy not moving around for so long. Caan was not used to playing a reactionary character, and found it much tougher to play.
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Director Rob Reiner studied Alfred Hitchcock movies to figure out how to shoot a thriller, watching every Hitchcock film. Reiner had Hitchcock on the brain so much that James Caan overheard Reiner chastising himself one day on set, asking himself, "Who do you think you are, Alfred Hitchcock?"
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Director Rob Reiner made a cameo as the helicopter pilot helping Buster search for Paul's car.
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"Misery" was also adapted to a play, which opened on Broadway in 2015 and starred Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf.
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Warren Beatty, Robert de Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino and Robert Redford all turned down the role of Paul Sheldon.
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Ed Harris, John Heard, Jeff Daniels, Robert Klein and Ed O'Neill were considered for the role of Paul Sheldon.
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Blizzards are in "Misery" and "The Shining," another Stephen King novel.
John Ritter was considered for the role of Paul Sheldon
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Anjelica Huston, Jessica Lange, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand and Debra Winger were all considered for the role of Annie Wilkes.
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Denzel Washington turned down the role of Paul Sheldon.
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In 2015, "Misery" was adapted into a play starring Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf. Sixteen years before, in 1999, Ramón Langa, famous for being the Spanish Bruce Willis official dubber, starred on a theater adaptation alongside Beatriz Carvajal.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Kathy Bates reportedly was disappointed that a scene was cut in which she kills a young police officer by rolling over him repeatedly with a lawnmower. Director Rob Reiner was afraid that the audience would laugh at it.
Annie (Kathy Bates) places a wooden block between Paul's (James Caan) ankles and uses a sledgehammer to "hobble" him. In the book written by Stephen King, Annie cuts his left foot off with an ax. The scene was changed so that there would not be too much gore.
In Stephen King's novel "Misery," Annie cuts off Paul's foot to prevent him from escaping. Screenwriter William Goldman had stated that the reason he decided to adapt the book to film was because of this gruesome scene and the effect it would have on the audience. However, Rob Reiner and Andrew Scheinman's script revision changed the method of torture to Paul getting his ankles broken with a sledgehammer. Goldman was opposed to the change until viewing the film.
When Annie demands that Paul burn his manuscript, she lights the paper and we see a close-up of the words on the paper, an article about Cameron Crowe and how he is an amazing scriptwriter. It talks about his movies, but mostly offers praise for Say Anything... (1989).
James Caan's fake legs were molded out of gelatin. Armatures with wire were inserted into the prosthetic ankles so that after Annie hit them with the sledgehammer, they would bend at the desired, gruesome angles. There were holes so that Caan could slip his real legs up to the knee.
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