Se7en (1995) Poster



This was voted the eighth scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Jump to: Cameo (3) | Spoilers (30)
As preparation for his traumatic scene in the interrogation room, Leland Orser would breathe in and out very rapidly so that his body would be overly saturated with oxygen, giving him the ability to hyperventilate. He also did not sleep for a few days to achieve his character's disoriented look.
While filming the scene where Mills chases John Doe in the rain, Brad Pitt fell and his arm went through a car windscreen, requiring surgery. This accident was worked into the script of the film. Coincidentally, the original script did call for Pitt's Det. Mills character to be injured during this sequence--but to something other than his hand.
When looking for the part of Victor, David Fincher stated that he wanted to find someone who was incredibly skinny, around 90 lbs. Michael Reid MacKay auditioned, and at the time weighed 96 lbs. Fincher gave him the part and jokingly told him to lose some more weight. Much to his surprise, MacKay turned up to filming having lost another 6 lbs.
All of John Doe's books were real books, written for the film. They took two months to complete and cost $15,000. According to Somerset, two months is also the time it would take the police to read all the books.
Denzel Washington turned down the part that went to Brad Pitt, telling Entertainment Weekly that the film was too "dark and evil." Washington later regretted his decision upon seeing a screening.
There's a line in which Mills names motives that killers give; one of them is 'Jodie Foster told me to do it.' He is referring to John Hinckley Jr., a man that was obsessed with Jodie Foster and attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress her. The other that Mills says is "My dog told me to do it.", a reference to David Berkowitz, AKA, the "Son of Sam", a serial killer who terrorized the New York City area in the summers of 1976 and 1977 and claimed that his neighbor's dog was possessed and told him to commit murder.
New Line executives originally balked at the film's ending, but Brad Pitt refused to make the film if the ending were changed.
Gwyneth Paltrow was David Fincher's first choice for the part of Brad Pitt's wife, having impressed him with her work in Flesh and Bone (1993). Paltrow was initially not interested, so Fincher had to ask her then boyfriend - Brad Pitt - to get her to come in and meet with him.
For the gluttony scene, seven crates of cockroaches were released on the set and poured on Bob Mack who plays the gluttony victim. Something had to be put in Mack's ears and nose to stop the cockroaches from crawling in, however, that didn't stop them from going into his underwear.
The primary influence for the film's screenplay came from Andrew Kevin Walker's time spent in New York City while trying to make it as a screenwriter. "I didn't like my time in New York, but it's true that if I hadn't lived there I probably wouldn't have written Se7en."
Andrew Kevin Walker had enormous difficulty getting a studio to buy the rights to his script because he was a complete unknown in Hollywood. Allegedly, he put together a list of agents that represented writers that work in the crime and thriller genres, and just called each one up until he got a positive response.
This was regarded as the first "A" production for New Line Cinema, proving that they could attract "A-list" directors and cast.
During the scene before Mills and Somerset walk into the district attorney's office, the camera zooms into a newspaper announcing the murder. A small article in the corner of the front page says that a family was held hostage by their guinea pig for three days.
David Fincher said on the commentary that he felt bad for the actor who had to wear all the hot, heavy Gluttony prosthetics, so to compensate, he made him well endowed..
Brad Pitt earned $7 million for this film.
Make-up for the 'Sloth' victim took over 14 hours.
The film's brooding, dark look was achieved through a chemical process called bleach bypass, wherein the silver in the film stock was not removed, which in turn deepened the dark, shadowy images in the film and increased its overall tonal quality.
David Fincher told Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt "this is not going to be the movie that you're remembered for, but it may be a movie you're incredibly proud of."
Originally, Morgan Freeman drew his pistol with his finger on the trigger. Police officers that were on the set as technical advisors quickly corrected him, as that is not correct police procedure.
The police badge used in the film does not identify the setting, it only says 'Metropolitan'.
Sylvester Stallone turned down the role of Mills. He told Ain't It Cool News that this was a mistake.
The word "fuck" and its derivatives are said a discernible 74 times throughout the movie, mostly by Brad Pitt.
For the greed scene, Gene Borkan who plays the victim was 'hog-tied' and only wearing his underwear for most of shooting, and he was covered in over 2 gallons of fake blood. The blood was so thick and sticky that his knees became stuck to the floor.
The seven deadly sins are: Lust - to have an intense desire or need: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Gluttony - excess in eating and drinking: "for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags" (Proverbs 23:21). Greed - excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness: "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Ephesians 4:19). Sloth - also known as laziness; disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous: "The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway" (Proverbs 15:19). Wrath - strong vengeful anger or indignation: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1) Envy - painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage: "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation" (1 Peter 2:1-2). Pride - quality or state of being proud - inordinate self esteem: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).
Val Kilmer turned down the role of John Doe.
Brad Pitt bought his own ties for the movie. He wanted Mills to have poor fashion sense.
Brad Pitt said that Gwyneth Paltrow's character is "the only sunshine we have in the film."
The box full of photographs at the "Sloth" scene has written on the side "To the World, from Me."
The original script had a strange, dwarf-like woman as part of the forensics team, appearing in every one of the "cleanups" after a murder and hurling foul language and epithets at Somerset and Mills.
Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker wrote the script over a two year period while working at a branch of Tower Records.
Guillermo del Toro turned down the chance to direct, because, as a romantic, he didn't subscribe to the script's dark view of the world.
The film was the subject of a lawsuit brought by a photographer whose work was used in the background of John Doe's apartment. The case was decided in the filmmakers' favor. Sandoval v. New Line Cinema Corp., 973 F.Supp. 409, 412-414 (S.D.N.Y 1997).
In early stages of production, Al Pacino was considered for the role of Somerset, but he declined due to scheduling conflicts with City Hall (1996).
An edited-out sequence near the beginning had Somerset looking over the country home he's planning on moving into. He uses his switchblade to cut loose a rose on a fragment of silk wallpaper and carries it with him throughout the movie. The rose falls out of his jacket as he is taking off his gun before eating with the Mills family. (This touch was edited out, too. Both sequences are in the supplementary section of the Criterion laserdisc.) The rose is briefly visible in the opening scene, sitting atop a handkerchief on Somerset's dresser.
The autopsy of the first killing, as originally scripted, was incorrect according to the research of makeup man Rob Bottin (who viewed a real human autopsy as part of his prep work). The scene was truncated from the original script and shows only the sewn-up corpse of Gluttony, not the actual autopsy.
The filmmakers decided it should always be raining for two reasons: It added a sense of dread; and they never had to worry about bad weather.
In 2001, the Patriot Act gave the government the ability to monitor library records.
Surprisingly, this enjoyed some degree of success in post-revolutionary Iran where it did well at the box office (this was prior to the hardline Iranian regime taking control and effectively outlawing anything pro-Western). Its success in Iran can partly be attributed to the fact that the film's cinematographer, Darius Khondji, hails from that country.
David Fincher named the detectives in Fight Club (1999), Andrew, Kevin and Walker, after this film's screenwriter. Walker did uncredited rewrites for Fight Club.
At the time, David Fincher had not read a script for a year and a half since after the frustrating experience of making Alien³ (1992); he said, "I thought I'd rather die of colon cancer than do another movie". Fincher eventually agreed to direct the film because he was drawn to the script, which he found to be a "connect-the-dots movie that delivers about inhumanity. It's psychologically violent. It implies so much, not about why you did but how you did it". He found it more a "meditation on evil" rather than a "police procedural".
The "Platinum Series" DVD of Se7en by New Line is mastered from a new HDTV transfer which was made directly from the camera negative. This required that the whole film had to be re-graded digitally, applying color and contrast correction to every shot under the director's supervision. The resulting HDTV master is now the official master of the film. The digital corrections are quite extensive in some shots as the DVD supplements demonstrate in detail.
Kevin Costner and Nicolas Cage were briefly considered for the role of David Mills.
According to Brad Pitt, there was originally a scene where Mills and Somerset discussed "thumb recall"; cut off the thumb of anyone convicted of a violent crime, and there's no way they'd be able to fire a gun. The scene was ultimately cut from the film, because they were afraid someone would "roll with it."
David Cronenberg was offered a chance to direct this but he turned it down.
The "song" playing, when Mills and Somerset arrive at the Lust crime scene, is called of course Lust. The song, which is only 56 seconds long, was created specifically for that scene in the film, it was created by Sound Designers Ren Klyce and Steve Boeddeker.
David Fincher wanted the credits to look like a killer had written them.
When writing the script, Andrew Kevin Walker thought that Doe and Somerset should be of equal intelligence.
David Fincher thought that Morgan Freeman would turn down the role, thinking he'd feel the film was "too down market." But he was the first one to eagerly join the cast.
Brad Pitt praised Kevin Spacey's performance saying, "He's got more control on it than I do."
The Mills's apartment is built on a shake-able platform. The crew would trick visitors to the set with "instant earthquakes."
Mills and William Somerset discuss the book "Of Human Bondage", which was written by W. Somerset Maugham.
Robert Duvall was offered the role of Somerset, but turned it down.
Brad Pitt said one reason he took this role was "to escape the cheese" after Legends of the Fall (1994).
Brad Pitt didn't take his shirt off in the film because Legends of the Fall (1994) had just made him a sex symbol. Still, he won the MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male for this role.
Before Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt were cast, Al Pacino and Denzel Washington were early choices for Somerset and Mills, respectively. Pacino declined, as he was already scheduled to film City Hall (1996), and Washington turned down the offer, deeming the film to be "too dark." Both actors have expressed regret in not taking their individual offers.
David Fincher was determined to make the film without compromising his vision. On his first film, Alien³ (1992), Fincher battled with the studio and was fired three times.
Howard Shore also scored The Silence of the Lambs (1991), another film about a serial killer.
According to David Fincher, the camerawork was influenced by C.O.P.S. (1988), "how the camera is in the backseat peering over people's shoulder".
According to David Fincher, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman were perfect during the first read-through of the script.
A cockroach expert used Vaseline to keep bugs on the set.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Christina Applegate turned down the role of Tracey.
Like Mills, Andrew Kevin Walker didn't know all the 7 deadly sins until he did research.
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David Fincher told his crew he wanted to make a black and white film in colour. To do this, he used cinematographer Darius Khondji, who was known for his perfume ads.
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When Somerset is in his apartment, he can be heard listening to a radio broadcast of John F. McClellan. McLellan was a Boston disc jockey (among other things) who did live Tuesday night broadcasts from the Boston club Storyville, on WHDH radio in the early 1950s. In the clip in the movie, you can hear McLellan's voice announcing some of the members of the band at Storyville that night, including Charlie Parker with Herb Pomeroy on trumpet.
David Fincher was initially turned off by the screenplay because it sounded too much like a generic buddy cop movie.
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A metronome, shown in one of the scenes, is often symbolic of patience, steadiness, and making order from chaos. It also marks the passing of time as Somerset waits and waits.
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David Fincher allowed Andrew Kevin Walker on the set while filming for on-the-set rewrites.
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According to earlier versions of the script, the unspoken name of the police captain is Captain Lucas.
A rejected version of the credits had the same scratchy handwriting and Coil-remixed "Closer", but used static images instead of the jumpy, blurred footage used currently. (This credit sequence is in the Criterion laserdisc supplement section.)
One of the scenes was shot in the Ambassador Hotel, where Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.
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After Brad Pitt chased John Doe through his apartment building, at the end of the scene, Brad Pitt actually did hurt his left arm. The cast was real. The office scenes of him and Freeman were shot later and so Pitt's left arm was hidden. When Pitt moved into his office, were Freeman was in his chair, during the phone call, you could see Pitt's hand was a bit purple and swollen. That was real.
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In the opening credits, a reworked version of "Closer" by 'Nine Inch Nails' can be heard. Trent Reznor (the lead in the band) would later attach to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), The Social Network (2010), and Gone Girl (2014), all David Fincher properties, to create the musical scores. Additionally, although Reznor was only involved by proxy in this film, the opening title sequence won awards, as did the music in the following three films.
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At one point, Harrison Ford was considered for the role of Somerset.
David Fincher approached making the film like a "tiny genre movie, the kind of movie Friedkin might have made after The Exorcist (1973)."
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Gene Hackman was offered the role of Somerset but turned it down because of too many night shoots.
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"Closer" by 'Nine Inch Nails' is one of the songs featured in the movie. Trent Reznor later won an Oscar for scoring David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
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The 3rd slowest film to reach 100 million at US box office, after Shakespeare in Love and Unforgiven.
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The name of Jodie Foster is mentioned in this film as a reference of murderer's obsessions. Years later, Jodie Foster starred Panic Room (2002) directed by David Fincher
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Andrew Kevin Walker named William Somerset after his favorite author, W. Somerset Maugham.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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The Glimmer Twins is the nickname of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. David Fincher won a Grammy for directing The Rolling Stones' video for "Love is Strong."
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The USA Criterion Collection Laserdisc includes: A new widescreen (2.35:1) digital transfer supervised by director David Fincher, New surround sound mix supervised by sound designer Ren Klyce, optimised for home theater listening, Discrete 5.1 channel Dolby AC-3 soundtrack, Screen-specific audio commentary by Fincher, Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, production designer Arthur Max, and special makeup effects designer Rob Bottin, Deleted scenes, outtakes, and dailies, Crime scene photographs, production design sketches, and storyboards, A study of the opening credit sequence, including storyboards and an early version with commentary by designer Kyle Cooper, A visual essay and commentary by Rob Bottin, The Killer's photographs, with notes by photographer Melodie McDaniel, The Killer's diaries, Hundreds of behind the scenes photos, production and publicity stills, and proposed promotional artwork, The original widescreen theatrical trailer, eight television spots and behind-the-scenes footage.
Jeff Cronenweth started as a camera operator in the film, but when director of photography Darius Khondji moved to Stealing Beauty (1996), Cronenweth and Harris Savides did about two weeks of additional photography inserts and pickup jobs for the movie. They ended up shooting the entire end sequence again at remote desert area.
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Andrew Kevin Walker envisioned William Hurt as Somerset. William Hurt would go on to play a police detective in Dark City (1998).
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David Fincher and Brad Pitt first film together.
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The USA Criterion Collection Laserdisc suggested retail price was $124.95.
57 minutes into the movie Gwyneth Paltrow's character meets with Morgan Freeman's at a diner. The source music (music being played through the diner's speakers as opposed to score) is the theme from the movie, The Third Man.
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The United Kingdom Laserdisc suggested retail price was £24.99.
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The Japanese Laserdisc suggested retail price was ¥8000.
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The USA Laserdisc suggested retail price was $49.99.
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When Mills and Somerset are sitting in the diner, you can see a poster with the words "New York City Pizza."
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Somerset reveals to Mills and Tracey that his first name is William. William is Brad Pitt's real first name.
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Jeremiah S. Chechik was attached to direct at one point.
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Andrew Kevin Walker: The writer of the film appears as the first corpse.
Alfonso Freeman: Morgan Freeman's son as a fingerprint technician.
Charles S. Dutton: the cop who keeps the press out of the Greed crime scene.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The producers intended that Kevin Spacey should receive top billing at the start of the movie but he insisted that his name not appear in the opening credits, so as to surprise the audience with the identity of the killer. To compensate, he is listed twice in the closing credits: once before the credits start rolling, and once in the rolling credits in order of appearance. Another advantage from Spacey's point of view, as he saw it, was that he was excluded from the film's marketing during its release, meaning he didn't have to make any public appearances or do any interviews.
The ending in the movie is the ending in the original draft of the screenplay. Producer Arnold Kopelson had it rewritten and the ending became a race to save Tracy's life. When David Fincher, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman read the new ending, they all demanded the that original ending be put back in or they wouldn't do the movie. (From the Platinum Series DVD).
When filming the 'sloth' victim scene, the SWAT officers were not told that the victim was still alive. When the victim coughs and scares the SWAT officers, that reaction is real.
Kevin Spacey was cast two days before filming began.
The victim tied to the bed for a year was not an animatronic model, but a very skinny actor made up to look even more corpse-like. Rob Bottin used a set of exaggerated teeth to make the head look smaller and more shrunken from malnutrition.
Morgan Freeman remembers the original ending as having Somerset shoot John Doe instead of Mills. He liked this ending, that the younger detective would still have a life after the events of the film. It was Brad Pitt's argument that there was no way Mills wouldn't have shot John Doe for what he had done.
Kevin Spacey as the antagonist, John Doe, made his first appearance in the film, as the photographer taking pictures of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman at the sloth crime scene. If you pause the film, when Pitt's character is slapping the camera out of the photographer's hand (at around 54 mins), you can clearly see that it is Kevin Spacey.
Before filming began, Kevin Spacey asked David Fincher if he should shave his head and he told him "If you do it, I'll do it" and so they were both bald for the rest of the film.
The ending narration of Somerset quoting Ernest Hemingway was an added compromise that neither David Fincher nor Morgan Freeman particularly cared for. The decision came from New Line after poor test screenings regarding the dark ending.
It is raining every day in the movie except for the last day. The reason is less about thematic issues and more about continuity. It rained on the first day that Brad Pitt filmed so they kept it going as they were rushing to do all of Pitt's scenes before he left to go make Twelve Monkeys (1995).
Even though he's probably one of the most horrifying and sadistic killers in cinematic history, John Doe isn't seen killing anyone on screen.
All the building numbers in the opening scene start with 7. The climactic delivery was scheduled for 7pm.
To appease the producers, who wanted to soften the dramatic ending a bit, an alternate version of the ending was storyboarded, with Somerset saying that he "wants out", and killing John Doe, thereby preventing Doe from winning, and Mills from ending up in jail. In the mean time, the crew shot a test ending, which is basically the theatrical ending without some of the dramatic shots. This finale was so well received in screenings that it convinced the producers to go along with it, and not even film the alternate ending.
At exactly 7 minutes into the film, Mills gets a call that starts the seven murders. With exactly 7 minutes left of the film, Somerset says to a distraught Mills: "he will win," regarding John Doe.
One version of the script contained a few scenes following the final confrontation between the detectives and John Doe. In one, Somerset is recovering in the hospital after being shot by Mills, and the captain delivers a letter to him from Mills which reads, "You were right. You were right about everything."
The only actual murder that is shown onscreen is when Mills shoots John Doe while in police custody at the end of the movie. The rest of the murders occur off-screen with only their grisly aftermaths shown.
The apartment of Mills is 5a. The 5th deadly sin is Wrath which is the sin that Mills becomes at the climax of the film.
Just before Detective Mills shoots John Doe, a single frame (1/24th of a second) of Tracy flashes, approximately at 2:00:13.
R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe was briefly considered for the Kevin Spacey role of John Doe.
R. Lee Ermey originally auditioned for the part of John Doe. After the part was given to Kevin Spacey, Ermey was offered, and took, the part of the police captain.
An alternate ending revealed that John Doe did not murder Mills' wife, only substituting a lookalike. Mills then has no justification for killing an unarmed man, and will spend the rest of his life in jail. Somerset decides not to retire, and instead gives his country house to Mills' wife and her unborn baby.
One of the re-written endings of the film involved Somerset discovering that John Doe was raised by an abusive priest in a church orphanage. Doe kidnaps Mills and lures Somerset to a decrepit church decorated with artwork depicting the Seven Deadly Sins, intent on making Somerset murder him out of vengeance. Instead, Doe and Somerset engage in a shootout, and Somerset lawfully kills Doe after Mills is killed during a struggle with Doe.
The prison jumpsuit John Doe wears at the end of the film has the words "Bardach County Jail" written on it. Elinor Bardach was the costume supervisor for this movie.
The ending of the screenplay, with the head in the box, was originally part of an earlier draft that New Line had rejected, instead opting for an ending that involved more traditional elements of a detective thriller film with more action-oriented elements. But when New Line sent David Fincher the screenplay to review for his interest in the project, they accidentally sent him the original screenplay with the head-in-the-box ending. When New Line realized that they had sent Fincher the wrong draft, the President of Production, Michael De Luca, met with Fincher and noted that there was internal pressure to retain the revised version; De Luca stated that if Fincher promised to produce the movie, they would be able to stay with the head-in-a-box ending. Despite this, producer Kopelson refused to allow the film to include the head-in-a-box scene. Brad Pitt joined Fincher in arguing for keeping this original scene, noting that his previous film Legends of the Fall (1994) had its emotional ending cut after negative feedback from test audiences, and refusing to do Seven unless the head-in-the-box scene remained.
Sloth is the third deadly sin, the sloth victim is found in a 3rd floor apartment.
The opening murder that Somerset is investigating in this film foreshadows the ending. Both are murders, or a "crime of passion".
The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Detective Mills shoots John Doe six times
After the first cut of the film was shown to the studio, they attempted to mitigate the bleakness of the ending by replacing Mills' wife's head with that of a dog, or by not having Mills fire on John Doe.
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Between both Mills and Somerset, they fire 7 shots from their side-arms. 6 from Mills, and 1 from Somerset.
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