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True Lies (1994) Poster

(1994)

Trivia

The first film to use the then newly redesigned CGI 20th Century Fox logo, which lasted until 2010.
Jump to: Director Trademark (2) | Spoilers (9)
When Harry tells Gib that Helen is having an affair, Gib tells a story about his second wife taking everything when she left him - he says, "What kind of sick bitch takes the ice cube trays out of the freezer?" This is a reference to Tom Arnold's divorce from Roseanne Barr - she was reported to have taken his ice cube trays when she left him, too.
The set of bra and matching panties worn by Helen Tasker during the striptease scene were Jamie Lee Curtis' own. Additionally, the fall that she takes in the middle of the dance was unscripted, and that is hinted at when Harry sits up in alarm, then relaxes.
Tom Arnold didn't expect to get a role in the movie, and went to the audition mostly for the chance to meet director James Cameron. Cameron liked Arnold, despite 20th Century-Fox's objections (Arnold's reputation at the time wasn't positive, mostly due to his public antics with then-wife Roseanne Barr), and Cameron threatened to not make the movie at all, if Arnold couldn't be cast. When Arnold later learned about this, he was grateful to Cameron for taking a chance on him.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's biggest challenge for the movie was not doing all the physical stunts, but dancing a tango. He had to take dancing lessons to realistically perform the dance. He rehearsed the dance scene for about six months. He wanted to make sure he was as good at the tango as Al Pacino was in Scent of a Woman (1992).
James Cameron can be heard as the helicopter pilot who says, "Yeah she's got her head in his lap, Yahoo!"
The US Government supplied three Marine Harriers and their pilots for a fee of $100,736 ($2,410 per hour).
Eliza Dushku broke some ribs during the filming of her Harrier jet stunt scenes.
The appearance and traits of Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston) is based on Nick Fury, a Marvel Comics character. Like Fury, Trilby has an eyepatch, and the same mannerisms; as well as heading a peacekeeping organization. At one point, Cameron wanted to be a comic book penciller, and does a lot of his own concept art. He even designed the entire T-800 endoskeleton.
James Cameron originally hired a team of writers to help him come up with the film's jokes. However, after being mostly unsatisfied with their work, Cameron let them go and decided to try his own hand at comedy. He rewrote the script from scratch and kept only two jokes from the team of writers (one of which being Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous "You're fired!" line).
The soundstage where they shot the Harrier scale model was the largest 180 degree green-screen background ever built.
In an interview, James Cameron says that the script was brought to him by Arnold Schwarzenegger who said that he wanted to do it because he thought the Tasker character was interesting. Cameron was shocked because he had never seen Schwarzenegger pick a script based solely on his interest in a character and decided that he saw the same thing and made the movie.
Helen was originally going to go nude in the striptease scene, but the idea was dropped, and Jamie Lee Curtis kept her underwear on during it.
Tia Carrere's contract was only for seven weeks but because of long periods of shooting, she ended up earning 7 months of pay.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's 3rd collaboration with James Cameron.
A sequel to True Lies (1994) was once in the works, which would've reunited the principal cast as well as been directed by James Cameron, who directed the first movie. A script was even ready for this sequel, and had the movie been made, it would've been released sometime in 2002. The sequel idea was eventually scrapped (or at least indefinitely shelved) due to script problems as well the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cameron even said in an interview that he dropped his sequel plans because "in this day and age, terrorism just isn't funny anymore".
As of 2014, this is the only feature film that James Cameron has directed to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and not win in that category.
At the urinal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian native, is whistling "Edelweiss", the bogus "Austrian folk tune" from the American stage play "The Sound of Music."
James Cameron wanted to make "Spider-Man: The Movie" starring Michael Biehn. However, he thought that the film would be technically challenging at that point, and made this movie instead.
Many problems plagued the shooting of the opening sequence: the mansion scene was filmed on an extremely cold night and the mansion itself was not heated; all of the women wore dresses with nothing underneath and a costume change room was set up outside in the cold; kerosene lamps were used to heat the tents; one of the extra's blouses caught fire. For their suffering through the harsh cold that night, the extras were paid an additional $50.
When asked during an interview whether his wife was bothered by him sitting there watching Jamie Lee Curtis strip, Arnold Schwarzenegger said that she asked him about it and he assured her "Honey, I hated every hour of it!"
Jamie Lee Curtis called the film "without question, the greatest experience of my professional life so far."
Tom Arnold said that he and Harry are the only ones "totally honest with each other" in the movie.
Tom Arnold said he has the same chemistry with Arnold Schwarzenegger off-screen as he does on.
Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't supposed to drop the tape recorder. James Cameron liked it, and kept it in.
The "horse in the hotel" scene was filmed in the lobby and elevators of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Tom Arnold said this is his favorite movie he's ever been in.
Arnold Schwarzenegger said that this was the "film I was meant for."
Arnold Schwarzenegger did a lot of his own horseback riding. He says he couldn't have done it without his riding experience on the Conan movies.
At one point in the film, Tasker uses a Mk II hand grenade to kill several terrorists. For those wondering where this grenade came from, it was originally in the script that Juno put a grenade between Helen's legs, saying all she has to do is keep her legs closed, which Helen remarks is a problem Juno seems to have. When the two escape, Harry re-pinned the grenade using Helens diamond earring for use again later. They cut this scene out of the film, causing this grenade's presence to be a continuity error, however the scene remains in the novelization by Dewey Gram and Duane Dell'Amico. This grenade, complete with the earring in place of the pin, is prominently visible on many of the posters for the movie and on the region 2 DVD cover.
Arnold Schwarzenegger came to James Cameron with the idea for the film, when they had breakfast together. Which Schwarzenegger had watched a French film entitled La totale! (1991) about a secret agent, whose wife thinks he is a telecommunications employee and they decided to remake the film as "True Lies" with Arnold in the lead role of secret agent Harry Tasker.
James Cameron remembered Art Malik's work in City of Joy (1992) and offered him the role of Salim Abu Aziz without an audition.
Jodie Foster was originally cast as Helen Tasker, but was forced to turn the role down because she was signed to Nell (1994).
Tia Carrere named this as her favorite role of all time "because I got to be a villain."
When Harry explains that his code name will be "Boris," Helen responds that hers should be "Natasha," in reference to Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. Instead, Harry offers "Doris" instead. Fantasy artist and bodybuilder Boris Vallejo, whom Arnold Schwarzenegger admired, was at the time married to a woman named Doris.
Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to make the film before he made Last Action Hero (1993). The reason for the delay was that James Cameron was busy writing Strange Days (1995) for his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow.
To film the scenes on the old Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys, like the arrival and take-off of the Harrier jet, the production crew closed down the traffic on new Seven Mile Bridge at intervals for several minutes at a time. Whenever this happened, women were sent among the stopped cars giving drivers Pepsis and bumper stickers that read "I was stopped on the 7 Mile Bridge by Omega Sector."
Originally, the writers wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger's character during the horse chase sequence to chase after the suspect through the reflecting pool at the Washington Monument. The National Parks Service refused to allow that to happen.
Simon (Bill Paxton) and Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are mirror images of each other. Simon is a salesman pretending to be a spy and Harry is a spy pretending to be a salesman.
The just after dawn sequence on the bridge, where the truck teeters on the edge and a pelican knocks it in, was actually filmed just before dusk. Therefore instead of the limo fight and trucks falling into the water facing east toward the rising sun, they were all facing the setting sun in the west.
Harry's horse was really played by four different horses because they had different skills.
Cinematographer Russell Carpenter says that he became an overnight name after "20 years of swimming upstream in very obscure rivers" when James Cameron decided to hire a relative unknown to shoot True Lies.
At one point Helen says "I married Rambo!" James Cameron co-wrote Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985).
James Cameron thought of the film as a "love story" first and foremost.
Jamie Lee Curtis was glad her character was nervous because she was nervous about some scenes too.
Arnold Schwarzenegger recalled, "The hardest thing was sitting in a cockpit for hours and days and weeks. It was 100 degrees inside... That was torturous."
Jamie Lee Curtis exercised every day to prepare for this role.
James Cameron had wanted to work with Jamie Lee Curtis ever since seeing her in A Fish Called Wanda (1988).
Jamie Lee Curtis won a Golden Globe for her performance as Helen Tasker.
This was one of the last first-run films to have a 70mm release. James Cameron personally paid for 16 70mm prints of the film to be struck.
Arnold Schwarzenegger dreamt about playing a James Bond kind of spy when he was a kid.
Right after Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leaves the art gallery toward the beginning of the film, Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik) slaps Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere) across the face, saying, "Charmuta!". This is Arabic for "Bitch!".
This was the first Hollywood movie to be released in Vietnam since the Vietnam War.
The military aircraft seen late in the movie were McDonnel Douglas AV-8B Harriers of the Marine Attack Squadron 223 (VMA-223) which is nicknamed the "Bulldogs".
James Cameron responded to a backlash against the movie by Arab-American groups over the terrorists in it by stating that he was only looking for "generic terrorists; I almost used Irish terrorists as the bad guys." The reference about Irish terrorists refers to the fact that an early draft of the script did have rogue IRA operatives as the villains, but this was dropped when information about the film "Blown Away" with Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges came out (its bad guy was an ultra-nationalist extremist "too crazy for the IRA" and Bridges was the reformed ex-IRA bomb master who had to stop him) and Cameron did not want another 1994 film to echo his plans for TL. Cameron ultimately included an entry near the end credits which stated that none of the characters in his movie were meant to be represenative of any real racial, religious, ethnic or social groups.
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The role of Helen Tasker was written for Jamie Lee Curtis, even though a lot of actresses auditioned for it.
"True Lies" was the first film to be released in the US in 1994 with the new Twentieth Century Fox logo at the front, however other countries did not see the new logo - as the film was distributed by Universal Pictures in most other territories. This is attributed to the fact that the film was financed by James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment - who sold off the non-US rights.
Theatrical trailer shows two deleted scenes; Harry's boss Spencer talking on phone and saying "Mr. President, one of our best men is inside" and additional scene between Juno and Harry where she tries to seduce him while Gib is talking to him over the radio.
Art Malik did this film because he had been out of work for 14 months and owed The Inland Revenue £32,000.
As Gib and the others approach the Florida Keys in the jet, the pilot Mike Cameron, speaking to Air Traffic Control, uses the callsign "Jetstar 6479 Delta". N6479D was the tail number of a Cessna 172 at the flight school in Bermuda Dunes, CA where Cameron learned to fly.
When the film was initially released, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee was one of several groups to hold a protest at a Washington, D.C., theater. The groups attacked the film for its "depiction of Middle Easterners as homicidal, religious zealots". A demand for the boycott of the movie was called, as well as a ban of its distribution in fifty-four Arab and Muslim countries.
According to the Guinness Boook of World Records this is the first movie to have a production budget of $100,000,000.
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In an early version of the script, Harry discovers Dana ditching school to sing in her boyfriend's band. While Harry drives Dana back to school, they sing the song she was doing ("Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream) when he walked in on her. Both scenes were cut from the movie. Instead, you can faintly hear the song playing on Dana's Walkman in the scene before her boyfriend picks her up for school.
This was Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback film after the high-profile flop Last Action Hero (1993).
According to the plane tickets that Helen Tasker glances at, the movie is set in 1994, the year of its release.
During the motorcycle/horse chase scene, the elevators rode at the Marriott hotel in Washington, DC, are actually at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, also used in the climax scene of In the Line of Fire (1993).
Tom Arnold was so sure he wouldn't get this role that he asked if he could audition for a smaller part.
Some of the artifacts are Assyrian, not Persian. Production designer Peter Lamont admits they "took a bit of artistic license."
James Cameron compared the movie to "a military maneuver." "There were no easy shots on this movie, and if they were easy I found a way to make them hard."
Art Malik had previously played a Mujahideen commander in the Bond film The Living Daylights (1987).
The only time Arnold Schwarzenegger worked with Charlton Heston. Schwarzenegger was later slated to star in I Am Legend (2007), which is a remake of Charlton Heston's The Omega Man (1971), but the role was given to Will Smith.
James Cameron had written Helen Tasker with Jamie Lee Curtis in mind to play the part.
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Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Steve Guttenberg were considered for the part of Albert Gibson.
Eliza Dushku cracked a couple of ribs during shooting.
James Cameron got ideas for the movie by watching MTV with the sound off.
Arnold Schwarzenegger did some of the driving stunts himself.
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Jamie Lee Curtis' dress was designed by Marlene Stewart, who also designed for Madonna, Cher, and Janet Jackson.
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During the film's climax, the jingle from the Lightstorm Entertainment (James Cameron's production company) logo can be heard.
James Cameron described his creative process as "what I'm good at is working with actors to create scenes and then editing their performances to get the absolute best vibrating version of that scene and then share that with the audience. It's an amazing process to go through. Sometimes you think it's not going to work when you get started and then the characters come to life."
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James Cameron was inspired by the spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964).
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The Swiss chateau is really two different mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. One of them was also featured in The Great Gatsby (1974).
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US remake of French film La totale! (1991)
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Eliza Dushku would later go on to play a secret agent herself in Dollhouse (2009).
The name on the door of the office which the Harrier backs into during the final aerial scene is "D. SIMPSON". This is a reference to legendary producer Don Simpson who produced the very aerial Top Gun (1986) among others.
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Director trademark (James Cameron): A dangling, swinging fluorescent light fixture. In the bathroom shootout, damage from stray bullets includes one such fixture hanging from electrical wires. This is a common production detail to be found in almost every James Cameron written/directed feature film.
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The sub-machine gun used by the terrorist in the bathroom is a Steyr TMP 9mm Austrian weapon.
"Fear is not an option" was the theme of a technology lecture given by James Cameron in 2010.
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Tia Carrere later starred opposite Kevin Sorbo in Kull the Conqueror (1997), which was originally written for Arnold Schwarzenegger as "Conan the Conqueror".
James Cameron was going through a divorce from Kathryn Bigelow around the same time as filming this movie.
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Valeria Golino was offered a role in the film but she turned it down in order to shoot I sfagi tou kokora (1996).
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Jamie Lee Curtis was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron's future wife, in Blue Steel (1989).
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Tia Carrere had previously starred opposite former "James Bond" Sean Connery in Rising Sun (1993). This movie is partially a Bond parody.
The message behind the film is: "Secret agents should never get married".
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Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) is considered to be a remake/update version of the film. In that film, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star as a married couple whom don't know they are both assassins.
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Tia Carrere later starred as an antiquities professor and collector on Relic Hunter (1999).
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Much of the plot involves Arnold Schwarzenegger suspecting his wife of having an affair. Years later, it was revealed that he had an affair with his housekeeper.
Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Claudia Wells, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Sandra bullock and Madeleine Stowe were considered to play Helen Tasker.
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Jamie Lee Curtis actually did the dangling-from-the-helicopter stunt herself; it was her birthday.
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Director Trademark 

James Cameron: [White Frame] When Helen punches Harry in the face, a single solid white frame is spliced in at the moment of impact. This film trick accurately conveys the flash a person sees when they get hit in the head. It was also used in The Abyss (1989) when Cat punches Coffey in the face, and in Terminator 2 (1991) when Sarah clocks Douglas in the face with the mop handle.
James Cameron: [nuke] When the terrorists' first warhead goes off.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Jamie Lee Curtis performed the helicopter rescue scene herself. At her insistence, director James Cameron agreed to let her perform this scary spectacle. According to Jamie Lee Curtis, on the TV special promoting "True Lies", it was Cameron's idea for her to do the helicopter work; she said, "Oh, yeah. And just where are you going to be while I'm dangling way up there in the air, Jim?" And, according to her, he said, "Hanging out the door filming you with a hand-held camera." So she decided that if he was willing to do that to get the shot, she could stand to do it, too. Curtis did the helicopter stunt on her birthday.
For the spectacular Florida Keys climax, the production actually bought some redundant causeway links, and restored the missing chunks so that they could blow them to smithereens onscreen.
The bridge that was blown up was an 80' model of the 7 Mile Bridge. The old bridge (where they did the shot) was already "blown up", when they opened the new bridge. The bridge had sections removed so that taller boats could pass through without the need for a drawbridge.
Body count: 90.
During the shoot out at the Marriott Hotel, one of the terrorist killed makes another appearance after that. When Helen starts to shoot and drops the gun, there is a bald terrorist shot and killed, he is the same one killed in the earlier scene at the Marriott, during which he has hair.
A full scale model of a Harrier was built for all close shots of Arnold Schwarzenegger flying the plane; it was puppeteered from a crane on a nearby building which was painted out with CGI. As the Harrier lands in the street, practical dust and debris shot on a blacked out stage were digitally composited into the full-size model footage, along with CGI heat signature and "jet wash" while the steel cable suspending it in the air was digitally removed. As an extra gag a practical piece of paper, also shot on a stage, gets sucked into the Harrier's CGI air compressor fan through digital compositing.

Additionally, this final shot took so long to complete to James Cameron's satisfaction that on his next project with the studio, T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, several artists wore pins that said "No MI29" inside a red circle with a diagonal strike-through, referring to this 29th shot in the Miami sequence for the film.
A possible spin-off of "True Lies" was considered, where Dana Tasker follows in Harry and Helen's footsteps and becomes a secret agent, herself. However, it never came to realization.
James Cameron directed Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Paxton in The Terminator (1984). Also, the second of three movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Paxton. The third is Commando (1985).
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It is unclear and never explained in the film why Harry didn't tell Helen that he was a secret agent and why he kept a secret from her for 17 years and it never occurred to Helen to ask Harry why? When he is injected with the truth serum. It's most likely Harry could not tell Helen that he was spy because it could be a breach of national security and if terrorists knew Harry was married and has a family, he could put the lives of Helen and Dana in great danger, which is exactly what happens in the movie.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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