Sliding Doors (1998) Poster



Minnie Driver was originally offered the leading role ahead of Gwyneth Paltrow.
Jump to: Director Cameo (1)
John Hannah is partly responsible for the film getting made after the funding collapsed. He coincidentally happened to be in a meeting with Hollywood hotshot Sydney Pollack and casually mentioned this great screenplay he was hoping to make. Pollack was sufficiently interested to read the script and immediately sorted out the funding.
John Hannah stopped worrying about catching trains after this film. "I don't run for trains any more. If I'm meant to get the train, I'll get it," he claimed. "If I don't, there'll be another one along in a few minutes."
When Sydney Pollack called from Hollywood to offer financing, director Peter Howitt was on a drinking spree in a London pub, and had to be sobered up before he could speak to Pollack.
Peter Howitt is good friends with Brian May, of the band Queen, and gave him a copy of the finished script, asking him to write a song for the film. May penned the song "Another World", but was told a few months into production that they couldn't use it, because another record company was co-financing the production. May kept the song and it became the thematic thread for his solo album "Another World" (1998).
Rowers from London Rowing club, Cygnet, were chosen to be John Hannah's crew mates in the film. The casting director initially went to Imperial College, but when it was noted that they were "all over two meters with flat stomachs" it was decided that lesser rowers than the elite set of internationals would be cast. This is deliberate in order to make Hannah look like the tall athletic one in the boat.
The sliding doors incident that sparks the parallel story was shot at Fulham Broadway station and at Waterloo Station on the Waterloo and City line of London Underground. The blue train is a Waterloo and City line train.
Peter Howitt got the idea for the film after almost getting hit by a car. He was late in meeting a friend, and innocently walking along London's Charing Cross Road. "I couldn't decide if I should run for the train or first call my mate at a public phone," Howitt recalled. "I impulsively dashed across the street, and was nearly hit by a car, and that brush with death got me thinking. Something inside my head thought, 'That's interesting. What if he had hit me then?' What are the knock-on effects, the domino effects."

Seven years separated that fateful near-death experience and the finished product. In between, there were 20 script rewrites, thousands of pounds of debt, and one nervous breakdown. "All I could do was stay in my flat in Fulham and cry and write the script for Sliding Doors," Howitt revealed. "The worst lasted about three months. Then I slowly began to get better. Now I'm really glad it happened." He also stopped getting his hair cut until he was done with the movie.
In a 1998 interview, John Hannah claimed that playing James Hammerton "was the hardest thing I've ever done. Like in life, it's much easier to be depressed than to be happy. Being happy and smiling naturally on take 18 is really tough. Give me bawling my eyes out any time."
When James and Helen first meet on the tube, James talks about The Beatles. A little later in the film, as Helen and Anna get into the taxi they instruct the driver to take them to 9 Menlove Ave. 251 Menlove Ave in Liverpool was the childhood home of Beatle John Lennon, who felt a great affinity with the number "9".
The book Helen spills tea on and reads later is "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.
Gillian Anderson was considered for the role of Helen.
Rowers from the Cygnet Rowing Club portrayed James' crewmates. Alan Cox, one of said rowers, recounted Cygnet's final day of filming online prior to the film's release.

"And so to the post-race celebration, which was held in the bar of the Blue Anchor at Hammersmith. Here, the hero mounts a table and leads the bibulous multitude in dancing "Father Abraham." It was at this stage that the director made his first big miscalculation. He must have known the old adage about never working with children or animals, but clearly did not understand how oarsmen can share the worst characteristics of both. Having rehearsed the crews in the dance, he departed saying "have a drink to get warmed up" and deposited £30 with the landlord. It took little guile to persuade the bemused bar staff that an open-ended tab was running and, about five rounds later, when the crews were asked to behave as a drunken rabble, no acting skill was required. A precious moment occurred later as an assistant director enquiring after change from the bar bung learned that the bill had run to over £90. To their credit, the management learnt fast; during further work on the bar scene on the third day, only alcohol-free beer was offered".
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The 'Suspicious Girl' is John Hannah's wife Joanna Roth. "Peter Howitt held a party before we started filming, so everyone could get to know each other," Hannah said. "Pete, being Pete, said 'There's a wee part in this film for you, Joanna. Do you want it?' It was like everyone in the room was an old mate of Pete and he was making a home movie, saying: 'Do you want to be in it? And you'll get paid for it, too.'"
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The subway scenes were shot at Waterloo station on the Waterloo & City Line and at the Fulham Broadway station on the District Line. Filming on location there costs £500 per hour, unless you have a crew of fewer than five.
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Sydney Pollack spent a lot of time in the editing room. "I got very involved in the editing because it was a picture that required precise editing to know where you were all the time and for the audience to be able to find the movement between the A and B stories," Pollack explained. "I felt that Peter needed some help, so I worked pretty hard on that part of it and was able to make a contribution to it just because it was complicated for a director the first time around."
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The film's soundtrack is notable as the last from a Paramount film to be released by MCA Records, which, as successor to Paramount's former record division, continued to release soundtracks for some Paramount films starting in 1979. In 2003, when Geffen Records absorbed MCA and became another successor to the former record division of Paramount, it began to share the duty of issuing Paramount film soundtracks with sister labels Interscope and A&M.
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Film director Agnieszka Holland considers the film to be a botched copy of the Polish film Blind Chance (1987) with all the "philosophical depths and stylistic subtleties stripped away".
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Director Cameo 

Peter Howitt: The diner with the long hair and Liverpudlian accent who orders from Helen on her first evening as a waitress.

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