The Usual Suspects (1995) Poster


According to Bryan Singer in the DVD Commentary, when he was trying to get Gabriel Byrne to put on the hat and coat and pretend to be Keyser Soze, Byrne kept resisting and kept demanding to know why Singer wanted him to dress up as Keyser. Singer says that he finally blurted out to Byrne "It's because I'm a big Miller's Crossing fan!" Byrne starred in Miller's Crossing (1990) which features thematic imagery of Byrne in a hat and overcoat and a scene of Byrne's hat flying away.
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When he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Kevin Spacey famously said "Well, whoever Keyzer Soze is, I can tell you he's gonna get gloriously drunk tonight."
The line-up scene was scripted as a serious scene, but after a full day of filming takes where the actors couldn't keep a straight face, director Bryan Singer decided to use the funniest takes. A making-of documentary shows Singer becoming furious at the actors for the constant cracking-up. In an interview (on the Special Edition DVD), Kevin Pollak states that the hilarity came about when Benicio Del Toro "farted, like 12 takes in a row." Del Toro himself said "somebody" farted, but no one knew who.
Al Pacino also read the part of Dave Kujan, but had to pass due to scheduling conflicts. Pacino has since noted that this is the film he regrets turning down the most.
When Redfoot flicks his cigarette into the face of McManus, it was originally intended to hit his chest, so McManus' reaction is actually Stephen Baldwin's real unscripted reaction that Bryan Singer decided to keep in the movie.
The character of Fenster was named after the German for window, and originally conceived as the oldest man of the group, a more seasoned veteran. Benicio Del Toro was originally asked to audition for the role of McManus. Benicio asked to audition for the role of Fenster, telling the director that he had an 'idea' for the part. The unintelligible way that Fenster spoke was Benicio's idea, and the director decided to go with it. In one scene, Hockney says in response to Fenster, "What did he just say?" That was Kevin Pollak the actor speaking, not his character; he actually did not understand what Fenster said. The cop's (Christopher McQuarrie) reaction to Fenster in the line-up ("In English please") was unscripted and unrehearsed, as was Fenster's rather strong reaction.
Kevin Spacey had the fingers on his left hand glued together to make his character's disability more realistic, and filed down his shoes to make them look worn by his character's limp.
The idea for this movie started only with the concept of a movie poster of five of guys in a lineup.
The part of Verbal Kint was always intended for actor Kevin Spacey.
All the actors worked for less than their usual fees.
In a poll on IMDb, the movie was voted as having the best plot twist, beating out The Sixth Sense (1999), The Crying Game (1992), and Witness for the Prosecution (1957).
Verbal Kint says "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist". This quote from the French poet Charles Baudelaire also appears in End of Days (1999), also featuring Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Pollak.
All the actors were encouraged to ad lib perplexed reactions to Benicio Del Toro's oddball vocal stylings.
Benicio Del Toro's bizarre dialect in the film was reportedly so unintelligible that during one scene, actor Stephen Baldwin actually forgot his cue due to being unable to understand what Del Toro had said.
Shot on a budget of $6 million over a period of 35 days.
Kevin Spacey met with doctors and experts on cerebral palsy to discuss how it might affect his characterization.
The role of Dave Kujan was offered to Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, who both turned it down.
Christopher McQuarrie's inspiration for the character of Keyser Soze was a real-life murderer by the name of John List, who murdered his family and then disappeared for 17 years.
The stolen emeralds were real gemstones, loaned to the production.
As Fenster and Hockney enter the garage shortly before the jewelry heist, Hockney can be heard telling a joke about a "chick" in the backseat of a car that is "totally naked". The punchline of this joke can be heard later on in the film in Hungarian, told by two Hungarians leaving a building by the docks before the climactic finish at the boat.
Kevin Spacey had been so impressed with Bryan Singer's first film Public Access (1993) that he told him he wanted to be in his next film when he met the young director after a screening at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival.
The role of Kujan was initially written with Chazz Palminteri in mind. However, when he proved unavailable, the role was offered to Christopher Walken, Clark Gregg, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, the latter being rather interested in playing the part. Pacino later decided against it as he had just played a cop in Heat (1995). When Chazz Palminteri finally became available, it was only for a week. Clark Gregg ended up playing the part of Dr. Walters.
All of the characters' names stem from the staff members of the law firm and the detective agency that Christopher McQuarrie worked at when he was young.
Benicio Del Toro was cast at the suggestion of Kevin Spacey. His part was originally written for someone like Harry Dean Stanton.
The film was promoted by a teaser campaign with the tagline "Who is Keyzer Soze?".
In the "making of" documentary, both Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Pollak acknowledge that their long-standing feud with each other began on the set of this film. Though neither actor directly states what caused their animosity towards each other, Pollak does mention that Baldwin, in an attempt to stay in character as MacManus, would go around acting tough and sometimes bully the other actors. Baldwin does admit that he was bullying towards Pollak on film (their numerous "stand off" confrontations with each other on screen).
In the original script, the opening scene was longer featuring a subplot of Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) planting a bomb on the ship. It was shot but later left on the cutting floor. Part of it remained with Keaton asking Keyzer, "What time is it?". Because of the last minute change, all shots of the exploding ship were shot at Director Bryan Singer's backyard.
Christopher Walken, Tommy Lee Jones, Jeff Bridges, Charlie Sheen, James Spader, Al Pacino and Johnny Cash were all offered the part of Redfoot, the LA fence.
Throughout the movie, 'fuck' and its derivatives are used 98 times.
Originally, Keyser Soze was supposed to have the name Keyser Sume, named after Christopher McQuarrie's old boss. He allowed his old boss to read the script, and decided he did not want to be associated with an inherently evil villain, so requested a change be made.
Kevin Spacey had to read the script twice when he first received it to make sure he fully understood it.
Gabriel Byrne originally turned down the film, not believing that the filmmakers could pull it off. He was convinced after a sit-down meeting with Christopher McQuarrie and Bryan Singer, impressed by their enthusiasm and vision. As the start date approached, Bryne backed out. He was undergoing personal issues at the time and wasn't able to leave Los Angeles. Consequently Singer reshuffled the schedule so that the entire film could be made in the LA area over a period of five weeks, all to accommodate his lead actor.
Christopher McQuarrie wrote nine drafts of the screenplay over a period of five months.
In a number of languages, 'Keyser' is homonymous with "emperor".
Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Mystery" in June 2008.
Neither Bryan Singer nor Christopher McQuarrie realized that the film's famous line, "the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist", was actually a quote from French poet Baudelaire.
The nurse behind the counter is played by director Bryan Singer's mother.
Stephen Baldwin was wary about joining the production as he was tired of taking part in independent films that turned out to be merely exploitative.
In the scene where Mr. Kobayashi's bodyguards are shot in the elevator, a match cut shows McManus above the lift doors. This shot of Stephen Baldwin was filmed outside in the car park as a pick-up.
Kevin Spacey was initially interested in playing either Keaton or Kujan.
Writer Christopher McQuarrie chose the name Keyser Soze from an English-to-Turkish dictionary.
Christopher McQuarrie reputedly got the idea for the film whilst standing in a cinema line-up.
Michael Biehn was the first choice for the role of McManus and was approached about taking the role, but he had to turn down the part because of his previous commitment to filming Jade (1995). The part then went to Stephen Baldwin who was the second choice.
Composer/editor John Ottman provided the breathing voice at the foreground from a shot behind the ropes, and also the gloved hands in the shot of Keyzer dropping the cigarette on the floor. Keyzer's foot stomping the cigarette was Director Bryan Singer's foot.
The Japanese characters on the outside of the meeting room where Kobayashi is talking with Edie Finneran and others say "Kobayashi" and "bengoshi" (attorney); the ones in reverse on the window read "seikou" (success), "chikara" (strength), and "zaisan" (assets).
Co-stars Stephen Baldwin and Gabriel Byrne share the same birthday, May 12th.


Christopher McQuarrie:  The writer can be seen as the Police officer at the very end of the film. On the left hand side of the frame as Chazz Palminteri looks for Verbal Kint. He is visibly seen laughing at the camera, in a nod and wink gesture to the audience who got bamboozled.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In an interview on The Colbert Report (2005), Kevin Spacey revealed that Bryan Singer managed to convince every one of the major actors that they were Keyser Soze. When first screened for the company of actors, Gabriel Byrne was so stunned when he found that he wasn't Keyser Soze that he stormed off into the parking lot and argued with Singer for a half hour.
When Verbal Kint falls to the ground during the interrogation by Kujan, Verbal clearly says "I did, I did kill Keaton." Kujan is yelling at the time and does not hear the slip up, which Verbal quickly covers up by saying "I did see Keaton get shot."
In the commentary track, it is mentioned that Benicio Del Toro chose to make Fenster's dialogue unintelligible because Fenster's only real purpose was to die as an example to the other characters, "so it doesn't matter what he says". Kevin Pollak jokingly laments that Del Toro is such a skilled actor that he took what was meant to be nothing but a throw-away character and "stole every scene he was in!"
Verbal Kint is the only one not shown getting arrested for the line up at the beginning of the movie.
During the bedside interrogation of the Hungarian survivor of the fire, the interpreter mistranslates a key word. The Hungarian uses the word "pasas" (pronounced "pash-aash") which the interpreter (who speaks Hungarian with a strong American accent and is therefore not native) translated as "we were picking up a 'package'". "Pasas" is actually Hungarian slang for a "guy". Only another Hungarian could have picked up on it, and as a result, no one in the movie did, hence the police's investigation of the non-existent cocaine delivery as the motive for the fire, which allowed Verbal the time he needed to go free.
Watch closely near the end, when Keaton is shot and Verbal hides behind the pile of ropes. As Verbal runs to the ropes he passes behind a stack of tires and does not emerge, but the pan quickly continues to the ropes. Bryan Singer told Kevin Spacey to stop behind the tires so Verbal isn't actually seen hiding behind the ropes, because "There's no one there. There was never anyone behind the ropes."
Actor Gabriel Byrne, when asked at a film festival, "Who is Keyser Soze?" replied, "During shooting and until watching the film tonight, I thought I was!"
In the climactic gunfight at the pier, every shot shown as an apparent POV shot from Keyser Soze's perspective is directly preceded by "Verbal Kint" (Kevin Spacey) being on screen.
When Verbal borrows Dave Kujan's lighter for his cigarette, he uses his right hand to light it (since his left arm is cripple). However, he can't make the lighter work and it slips from his hand. At the end, it is revealed that Verbal is actually left-handed and that his left hand works perfectly (Keyser Söze is also shown to be left-handed in the flashback scenes).
Before he's allowed to leave, Verbal Kint gets back his belongings, which include a gold watch and a gold lighter. Keyser Soze was seen earlier using both.
The order that the personal packages are given to everyone in the pool room is the same order in which the characters die.
In the movie, Kevin Spacey's character explains that his nickname is "Verbal" because he talks too much. In the DVD commentary, Bryan Singer points out that the nickname is a clue, since Keyser Soze is said to have a Turkish mother and a German father. According to Singer, in a mix of German and Turkish, "Keyser Soze" can be roughly translated as "King Blabbermouth."
In the opening sequence, when the unknown gunman urinates on the flame, it is gelatinous & lumpy. At the start of the interrogation by Kujan, Kint asks for coffee and notes that when he gets dehydrated, his urine becomes very thick and lumpy.
The writer Christopher McQuarrie sat down during his lunch break at the solicitors office where he worked and made up the plot to the film from a notice board. The board was made by Quartet, a company based in Skokie, Illinois, the same make as is in the film.
at around 20 mins) After Jeff Rabin serves coffee for Dave Kujan and Verbal Kint, Verbal starts talking about Guatemala. Then Dave Kujan asks Verbal Kint, "Now, what happened after the line-up?". After that we see Verbal Kint focusing on the bottom side of the cup Dave Kujan has been holding.
Five actors played the part of Keyser Soze: Gabriel Byrne's and Kevin Spacey's faces are shown as Keyser Soze. In the flashback sequence, Keyser Soze is played by a man with long hair that obscures his face--this was one of the grips, chosen because he was unable to straighten his elbows, giving him a surreal, powerful look. Composer/editor John Ottman provided Keyser Soze's hand lighting a cigarette; and Bryan Singer played the close up of Keyser's feet.
The coat and hat of Keyser Soze can be seen hanging in Arturo Marquez's room.
When Keaton is handing out the folders Kobayashi gave them, they are handed out in the order the characters die. First Fenster, then Hockney, next McManus, Keaton, and finally Verbal.
Body count: 17

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