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Face/Off (1997) Poster

(1997)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (4) | Spoilers (4)
Originally Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were in mind to play the lead roles, but when John Woo was brought in to direct, he decided that John Travolta and Nicolas Cage would be more suited to the roles.
Originally, Nicolas Cage turned down the role of Castor Troy, citing a lack of interest in playing a villain. However, once he was told that he would actually be playing the hero for a majority of the film, he quickly signed on.
The blood types for the two main characters (i.e. Sean Archer and Castor Troy)are mentioned in the movie, and at a subtle level they reflect their antagonistic nature. Archer's Blood type is O negative, while Troy's is AB positive, these two blood types are as different as you can get. O negative- the universal donor reflects Archer's role as a policeman dedicated to serving the community, while Troy's AB positive - the universal recipient suggests someone who takes from society without giving anything back.
The studio wanted John Woo to take the slash out of the title, but he kept it in so people wouldn't think it was a hockey movie.
The scene of Adam listening to "Over the Rainbow" on his portable headphones was John Woo's idea and not part of the original script. PARAMOUNT Pictures refused to finance the extra scene and John Woo had to use his own money to make that happen. He was later paid back as the film turned out to be profitable. (A similar scene can be seen in Woo's Hard Boiled (1992))
The script as presented to director John Woo was set in the future, but Woo suggested changing the setting to the present to focus on the dramatic and psychological elements of the storyline.
According to producer Barrie M. Osborne, most of the challenging action scenes, including the fight on the deck of the boat and the airplane going down the runway, were originally planned as green screen shots. But they filmed them practically to support the "realism of story".
The main character is named Sean Archer. Sagittarius the Archer, one of the constellations of the zodiac, is diametrically opposite (half-way around the year from) the constellation Gemini. Castor and Pollox are the two major stars in the constellation Gemini.
The name for the floating prison, Erewhon, is a simple anagram of "nowhere" (originally used as the title of a satirical novel by Samuel Butler in 1872).
Mark Wahlberg turned down the role of Pollux Troy.
Face/Off features actors Nicolas Cage and Thomas Jane who were each married to and divorced actress Patricia Arquette.
The magnetic boots the prisoners wear in Erewhon prison are the same boots worn by the Goombahs in 1993.
The boat chase at the end of the film was originally intended for Hard Target (1993), also directed by John Woo.
In The Rock (1996), Nicolas Cage's character says he drives a beige Volvo. After escaping from the prison, Archer (Cage) steals a beige Volvo.
"Over the Rainbow" is performed by Olivia Newton-John, whose most notable film role in Grease (1978) was opposite John Travolta.
Unlike John Woo's previous US movies Hard Target (1993) and Broken Arrow (1996) and his later one Mission Impossible 2 (2000), Face/Off had little to none studio interference, and only scene that MPAA demanded to be cut was opening assassination scene where Sean Archer's son is killed.
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Originally written in 1990, the script was first optioned by producer Joel Silver before falling into the lap of Michael Douglas who, the screenwriters fervently hoped, would star in it alongside Harrison Ford. Instead Douglas took over as producer with the roles of cop Sean Archer and villain Castor Troy eventually going to John Travolta and Nicolas Cage respectively.
John Woo considered casting Jean-Claude Van Damme in one of the lead roles.
In Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux (the two brightest stars in the constellation Gemini) were the twin sons of Zeus by Leda. The brothers fought together in the Trojan War (which, of course, was fought in *Troy*). This is not their only connection to Troy, their mother Leda was also the mother of Helen of Troy. Of the Castor and Pollux of mythology, Pollux was immortal and Castor mortal. They were allowed to spend alternating days together between the underworld and Olympus because Zeus took pity on the pair and "gave" Castor half of Pollux's immortality because they could not take the separation of death.
When Troy is attacked by the guards at the prison, he dodges behind a box marked "Ingen". That's the company that cloned dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993). "Ingen" also means "no one" in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.
At one point, Patrick Swayze was being sought for one of the lead parts.
Third of three Nicolas Cage action movies in a row to feature a finale in which he is flung through the air involving an explosion (here a speedboat crashing into a beach).
Erewhon Prison is a reference to Samuel Butler's "Erewhon", about a city in which the protagonist is imprisoned and in which many of the normal rules of society are reversed.
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The ornate box that is opened for Castor Troy on the tarmac contains the following: a bag of blue pills, sunglasses, 3 rolled cigarettes(or joints), a pack of Chiclets, 4 pieces of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, a switchblade, and what appears to be a blue glass vial.
Also, In Con Air (1997), the 2nd of the "trilogy," Cameron Poe (Cage) drops the dead body of "Pinball" from the plane, and it falls onto a beige Volvo.
Julianna Margulies turned down the role of Sasha Hassler because filming conflicted with her schedule for ER (1994).
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The other pairs of actors that were considered for Sean Archer and Castor Troy besides Schwarzenegger and Stallone and Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas were Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin, Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
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The choir in one of the scenes is a non-profit charity choir based in LA.
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WILHELM SCREAM: When Dubov pushes the gurney into the guards on the elevator.
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The power lever on the Lockheed Jetstar has a JW white and blue inscription, referring to the director John Woo.
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Both Harve Presnell and John Carroll Lynch appeared together in Fargo the previous year, though they do not share any screen time together in either film.
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Throughout the movie Sean Archer is shown to be physically superior to Castor Troy, whenever the two are engaged in hand to hand combat Archer almost always gets the upper hand, however Castor Troy has the better shot, he almost never misses.
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Nicholas Cage and Chris Bauer also went on to star together in 8MM.
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Tommy Flanagan (Leo) and CCH Pounder (Hollis Mills) later acted together in Sons of Anarchy.
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Director Trademark 

John Woo:  [dove]  A dove flies by before the final showdown. The final showdown took place at a church, referencing The Killer (1989), also directed by Woo.
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John Woo:  [reflection]  Castor Troy reflected in Dr Walsh's glasses.
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John Woo:  [back to back banter]  Sean vs. Castor with an obstacle between them throwing around a few comments before the "showdown."
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John Woo:  [guns]  Castor Troy's two handguns.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The special edition DVD contains several deleted scenes, most notably an alternate ending in which Sean Archer looks into a mirror, and Eve gasps as she (and the audience) sees Castor Troy's face as Archer's reflection. The studio nixed this ambiguous ending in favor of a happy conclusion in which Archer is definitely, completely himself again and Castor is dead with no chance of returning.
Even though Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were considered to play Sean Archer and Castor Troy and didn't get the shot, they later worked together in the Expendables movies and Escape Plan in which they both escaped from a futuristic prison like Nicolas Cage does in this film.
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One of 2 John Travolta, John Woo collaborations the other was Broken Arrow. In both movies Travolta played the villain.
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Castor Troy kills a total of 20 people during the course of the film (Michael Archer, Anderson, Montgomery, Berkeley, Pinkus, Genelli, Winters, Tito, Miller, Dr. Walsh, Dietrich, Loomis, Victor, Sasha, the owner of the boat, and 5 unnamed cops in the finale). Archer on the other hand only kills 4 people (Pollux Troy, Lars, Leo, Castor Troy).
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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