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Reality Bites (1994) Poster

(1994)

Trivia

Despite Lelaina's anti-consumerism speech at the beginning, this film has a considerable amount of product placement and product references in the dialogue, including Gap, BMW, Diet Coca-Cola, Pringles, 7-Eleven (its Big Gulp drinks are seen throughout the film), Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, Evian, Camel Straight cigarettes, Snickers, McDonalds (Troy mentions a Quarter Pounder with Cheese as one of life's pleasures), Whole Foods Market, Continental Airlines, Cocoa Puffs, Infiniti (Nissan USA luxury automobile division), Ford Motor Company, and Minute Maid.
Quentin Tarantino had originally intended to include "My Sharona" (The Knack) on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction (1994), but when he went to obtain the rights he found the song had already been licensed to this movie.
Screenwriter Helen Childress was 19 years old and a freshman at USC when she completed the script.
The scene in which Michael and Lelaina discuss the Big Gulp on the back of Michael's car was originally supposed to have the song "Beth" by 'KISS' playing. Ben Stiller couldn't secure the rights to the song so they opted for "Baby I Love Your Way" by Peter Frampton instead. Peter Frampton was an upstairs neighbor of Ben Stiller during filming of the movie.
Lisa Loeb's song, "Stay", was included on the soundtrack after Ben Stiller was given a tape of the song by Ethan Hawke, who was a personal friend of Loeb.
Renée Zellweger's film debut.
The psychic friend who Lelaina calls is voiced by Ben Stiller's real-life sister, Amy Stiller.
The woman that asks Winona Ryder's character to define "irony" is Ben Stiller's mother, Anne Meara.
Screenwriter Helen Childress wrote the character of Lelaina Pierce with Winona Ryder in mind.
Director Ben Stiller cast Steve Zahn after seeing him perform on stage in "Sophistry" in New York City's at Playwrights Horizon," which co-starred Zahn's friend Ethan Hawke.
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Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Heche and Parker Posey, virtual unknowns at the time, all auditioned for the role of Vickie Miner, which eventually went to Janeane Garofalo.
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Ben Stiller was told he could include Lisa Loeb's "Stay" on the soundtrack only if he agreed to put "Baby, I Love Your Way" (remade by Big Mountain) on the soundtrack as well.
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Dave Pirner, Soul Asylum front-man and boy-friend of Winona Ryder during that time, is visible in some of the "home-made" videos.
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The company where Michael works, In Your Face, is said to be "like MTV, but with an edge." There are numerous appearances by persons associated with MTV, such as Karen Duffy, Dominic Griffin and Glen Naessens from the second season of Real World (1992), and Evan Dando and David Pirner, who, with their bands The Lemonheads and Soul Asylum, respectively, in music videos.
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Ethan Hawke performs "Marriage," by Gregory Corso, who was an intimate friend of Allen Ginsberg and other Beat poet/writers who were in turn friends of Winona Ryder's real-life parents. Corso eventually died in Minnesota, not far from Ryder's hometown of Winona, MN. And in 1985, in Houston, Texas where the movie takes place, feminist poet Hedwig Gorski published her work entitled "Could not get Gregory Corso out of my Car".
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First theatrically released film directed by Ben Stiller.
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Original drafts of the script included a subplot involving Lelaina's alcoholic sister Patty, who was in rehab. A couple of those scenes were actually filmed but ended up getting cut. Patty was played by screenwriter Helen Childress' real-life sister, Patricia Childress.
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Before filming began Janeane Garofalo was fired from the production because Ben Stiller did not like her attitude during rehearsal. Garofalo was rehired after Winona Ryder stepped in on her behalf. Garofalo stated later that she has a really poor work ethic and hates to rehearse.
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Ethan Hawke was at this point unhappy with the direction his career was taking; the actor recalled that his career was in a lull after the buzz from Dead Poets Society (1989) had faded. Winona Ryder was a fan of his work and stipulated in her contract that her involvement in the film was dependent on Hawke starring opposite her. She chose Hawke after seeing him in A Midnight Clear (1992).
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Noah Wyle auditioned for the role of Sammy Gray.
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A Troy Dyer attended USC film school with Helen Childress, became a financial consultant in Wisconsin, and sued in 2005 for defamation. Childress claimed Dyer gave her permission to use his name, because he was straight-laced and conservative-the total opposite of the character. The case was settled to "everyone's mutual satisfaction," according to Dyer.
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Lelaina sabotages Grant Gubler's program by tampering with his cue cards. At the beginning of the film, when delivering her Valedictorian speech at the Graduation ceremony, she herself experiences some cue card trouble, the end of her speech has gone missing ("The answer is.... I don't know.")
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Janeane Garofalo and Ethan Hawke are the only main actors not to subsequently appear on an episode of Friends (1994).
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The film's producers saw the pilot episode for The Ben Stiller Show (1992) and approached Ben Stiller to direct it, but not act in it. He signed on to direct in 1992 and worked with Helen Childress for nine to ten months developing the script. Initially, Childress, working with producer Stacey Sher, had figured out the characters of Lelaina and Troy but could not come up with a credible character to complete the love triangle. Stiller suggested that he could play that third person. As a result, the Michael character changed from a 35-year-old advertising executive trying to market Japanese candy bars in America to a television executive in his twenties. They also changed the structure of the film. Originally, Vickie, Sammy and Troy had more fleshed out storylines, but Stiller felt that he could not tell them fully and decided to focus on the relationship between Lelaina and Troy.
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After completing several period pieces, Winona Ryder was drawn to the film because she was looking "for something a little more contemporary because I really wanted to wear blue jeans for a change". She read the script in one sitting while making The House of the Spirits (1993) and "found it very true to life." She further speculated in an interview, "I think my character is very close to what I would probably have ended up as if I hadn't become an actress".
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In 1991 producer Michael Shamberg had an idea to make a film about people in their twenties. He had read a screenplay entitled Blue Bayou written by Helen Childress on spec in 1990. He liked it and met with her where she proceeded to tell him about her life and friends and their struggle to find work during a recession in the United States at the time. For three years she wrote and rewrote the script, generating 70 different drafts. Childress decided to use her friends, their personalities and experiences as the basis for her film.
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Principal photography lasted 42 days.
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The filmmakers shot many of the exteriors in Houston (including a scene on top of the Two Shell Plaza building) where the film is set but most of the interiors were shot in Los Angeles, because it was cheaper to do so there.
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During filming, Ben Stiller encouraged Helen Childress to be on location and talk with the actors about their characters.
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The film was originally going to be made by TriStar Pictures, but they put the film in turnaround.
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One original title was The Real World. It was nixed when MTV's Real World (1992) debuted.
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According to Ben Stiller, none of the companies mentioned in the movie insisted on a change in the script.
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Diet Coke specifically was written into the script because Helen Childress lived off of it.
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Winona Ryder recommended Janeane Garofalo for the role of Vicki. She said that she didn't know if she would have been cast without Ryder's high opinion of her.
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"Baby I Love Your Way" by Peter Frampton was supposed to be a Beck tune.
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At the first screening, when the Berkeley, California audience saw the Universal logo, most of them booed.
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The film went through four test screenings.
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The film had been turned down by all the Hollywood studios because it tried to capture the Generation X market like Singles (1992), which was not a box office success.
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Initially, the film did not perform as well at the box office as the studio had hoped. In six weeks it grossed $18.3 million, more than the film's $11 million production budget. Bruce Feldman, Universal Pictures' Vice-President of Marketing said, "The media labelled it as a Generation X picture, while we thought it was a comedy with broad appeal". The studio placed advertisements during programs chosen for their appeal to 12- to 34-year-olds and in interviews Ben Stiller was careful not to mention the phrase, "Generation X".
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In the scene outside Johnie's Broiler Coffee Shop, Wynona Ryder & Janeane Garofalo are walking next to the neon Coffee Shop sign while talking. The two actresses are walking on an elevated platform, which the audience clearly can't see, as the sign is high off the street attached to the roof.
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