Boys Don't Cry (1999) Poster


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Hilary Swank won the lead role of Brandon/Teena after hundreds of other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years. She told director Kimberly Peirce that, like her character, she was also 21 and came from Lincoln, Nebraska. But she was fibbing, and when Pierce later confronted her with the lies, she responded, "But that's what Brandon would do."
When Hilary Swank was living as a man to prepare for the role of Brandon Teena, her neighbors believed that the young man coming and going from Swank's home (Swank in male character) was her visiting brother.
To prepare for her role, Hilary Swank lived life as a man for at least a month, including wrapping her chest in tension bandages and putting socks down the front of her pants much the same way that Brandon Teena did.
Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies." (In the description for the list, the magazine stated, "These are movies about which you could say, "That's Not Entertainment." They're not "rides" or "diversions." They are galvanizing experiences that place squarely in your face all the stuff Hollywood usually presumes you go to the movies to get away from. Films that rearrange your head, that challenge your bedrock ideas about life and love and the big sleep. Consciousness-expanders, in other words, but rarely in a pleasant way. Thank God for them.")
Hilary Swank was paid about US$3000 for her role.
Many of the night shots of the road were filmed by director Kimberly Peirce and cinematographer Jim Denault. When the filming stopped for the day, they used to drive to collect material.
Director Kimberly Peirce insisted that Hilary Swank live life as a man for four weeks, including the proviso that she ask some girls out on dates.
Working title: "Take It Like a Man."
Chloë Sevigny had to campaign for the role of Lana, although she really wanted to play Brandon. Kimberly Peirce envisioned a young Jodie Foster for the role, but she was too old at the time of production. Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Polley were also offered the part.
Three of the supporting actresses in the film (Chloë Sevigny, Alicia Goranson and Alison Folland) actually auditioned for the role of Brandon.
The title of the film is taken from a song by The Cure. A cover of the song also plays in the background at one point.
Director Kimberly Peirce said that she used the same shots in the opening roller rink scene that were used in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when Dorothy first left her house and entered the land of Oz.
Kimberly Peirce directed this feature film four years after making the short film Boys Don't Cry (1995) which dealt with the same subject.
The real Lana Tisdel wasn't overly impressed with the film; though it was true that she dated Brandon, the moment Lana found out that he was transgender, she terminated the relationship then and there. Furthermore, she maintains that Brandon never proposed to her.
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Katherine Moennig auditioned for the role of Brandon/Teena.
Diane Keaton originally considered directing with Drew Barrymore in the lead.
None of the people's names were changed, except for Candace. The real-life person she was based on was called Lisa Lambert.
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Peter Sarsgaard and Chloë Sevigny later appeared in Shattered Glass (2003), which is also based on real events.
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Peter Sarsgaard and Chloë Sevigny later appeared with Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead (2005) and Zodiac (2007) respectively. Sarsgaard is also married to Jake's sister Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Lisa Jakub auditioned with Hilary Swank for the part of Brandon/Teena. Hilary showed up dressed like a boy; and walked and talked like a boy. The only thing Lisa had done was put her hair in a ponytail, and walked into the audition, hoping to get it over and done with. Lisa said that Hilary was committed to the role, and rightfully deserved it.
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Both Chloë Sevigny and Peter Sarsgaard previously appeared in Larry Clark films: Sevigny in Kids (1995) and Sarsgaard in Another Day in Paradise (1998).
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The rape scene was originally longer, as Kimberly Peirce wanted to show that Brandon was repeatedly raped the whole night. Due to the negative response from audiences in several screenings, the scene was eventually shortened.
John Lotter who killed Brandon Teena is on death row in Tecumseh State Correctional Facility in Tecumseh, Nebraska. John Lotter has been in prison since 02/21/1996. With Nebraska recently stopping the use of the death penalty he will most like just spend his entire life in prison until his death.
The film neglected to show that an African American man named Phillip Devine was also murdered in addition to Candace and Brandon.
The director, Kimberly Peirce, first came across the story when reading a long article in Village Voice written by Donna Minkowitz which was printed a few months after the murder.
The film depicts Lana as being present at the crime scene during Brandon's murder. The real Lana Tisdel strongly denied ever being present and sued the filmmakers for suggesting that she was.
In the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006), director Kimberly Peirce says that the MPAA first gave the movie the NC-17 rating, which usually means that it will only get a limited release and most likely fail commercially. The MPAA especially named the scene where Brandon (Hilary Swank) is raped and the scene where Brandon gives oral pleasure to Lana as the reasons for the NC-17 rating. Peirce said she was shocked that the MPAA took issue with Lana's orgasm, which they commented on as "too long", but they had no quarrel with Brandon being shot through the head in explicit detail. Upon re-editing, the movie received an R rating for violence, rape, sexuality, language and drug use.
Thomas Nissen who killed Brandon Teena is serving a life sentence in Lincoln Correctional Center located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Thomas Nissen has been in prison since 08/16/1995.

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