The Aviator (2004) Poster



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Martin Scorsese designed each year in the film to look just the way a color film from that time period would look. Achieved mainly through digitally enhanced post-production, Scorsese recreated the look of Cinecolor and two-strip Technicolor. Watch in particular for the scene where Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets Errol Flynn (Jude Law) in the club. Hughes is served precisely placed peas on a plate, and they appear blue or turquoise - just as they'd have looked in the primitive two-strip Technicolor process. As Hughes ages throughout the film, the color gets more sophisticated and full-bodied.
Martin Scorsese requested that Cate Blanchett watch all of the first 15 films of Katharine Hepburn to learn her mannerism and her poise.
In preparation for her role as Katharine Hepburn, Cate Blanchett learned to play tennis and golf and took cold showers, something Hepburn is known for.
Leonardo DiCaprio spent a day with Jane Russell to hear her memories and impressions of Howard Hughes. She was very impressed with DiCaprio's visit and told him that Hughes was a quiet yet extremely stubborn man who always got his way in the end.
Freckles were painstakingly painted onto Cate Blanchett's face, arms, and chest to make her resemble Katharine Hepburn.
Martin Scorsese claims that he personally paid $500,000 of his own money to cover over budget expenses.
Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Katharine Hepburn makes her the first performer to win an Oscar for playing a real-life Oscar winner (Hepburn won a record 4).
Acting debut of singer Gwen Stefani. Martin Scorsese was looking for someone to fill the role of Jean Harlow when he noticed Stefani appearing on a Vogue cover poster in New York.
First film by director Martin Scorsese to gross over $100 million in the U.S.
Also in preparation for his role as Howard Hughes, Leonardo DiCaprio spent some time with an actual OCD patient named Edward. He advised him on a number of different aspects of the condition, in particular the tendency to repeat sentences over and over as in the scene where Hughes repeatedly asks to see the blueprints for the Hercules.
Director Martin Scorsese originally wanted to shoot the film in Academy ratio, 1.33:1, the same ratio as films of the period and indeed all films up until about 1954. Unfortunately, he found that modern theaters are generally not properly equipped to show anything but Flat 1.85:1 or Scope 2.35:1 films. He therefore focused instead on making each portion of the film look like it was made using the color film stock available at the time.
Two scenes were filmed aboard the retired ocean liner RMS Queen Mary, permanently berthed in Long Beach, CA, to take advantage of the vessel's still-extant 1930s Artdeco interiors. The "Hell's Angels" wrap party was filmed in the ship's Observation Bar. The scene introducing the H-4 Hercules ("Spruce Goose") scale model to the military was shot in the former First Class main lounge, now called the "Royal Salon." The real "Spruce Goose" was on display in a domed hangar adjacent to the Queen Mary from 1980-1992.
Kate Beckinsale gained 20 pounds for her portrayal of Ava Gardner.
Alan Alda avoided watching newsreel footage of the real Senator Owen Brewster. Alda felt that public figures did not speak or behave naturally in front of the newsreel cameras and he wanted his performance to be more natural. However, Alda did make use of photographs of the real-life Senator and used Brewster's legendarily ugly appearance in crafting the role; because it wouldn't work to make Alda look that disgusting, Alda instead used Brewster's looks as an example of how his inner ugliness emerged, and made that the key to his interactions with Howard Hughes.
Cate Blanchett felt that accurately reproducing Katharine Hepburn's distinctive upper class New Englander accent was crucial to her portrayal of this Hollywood icon. She did daily voice exercises with the film's voice coach Tim Monich (with whom Blanchett had worked previously on The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)), and also studied Hepburn's early films and documentaries about her to learn her mannerisms.
Jane Lynch's scenes as Amelia Earhart were cut from the movie.
Gwen Stefani was roughly 34 years old at the time she played Jean Harlow, who was only 19 years old at the time that Hell's Angels (1930) premiered.
Received the most Academy Award nominations for the year 2005, with 11 total.
The hangar in which the real-life Howard Hughes partially built his famous "Spruce Goose" airplane was also used for the construction of many of the full-scale models used in Titanic (1997), in which Leonardo DiCaprio also starred.
The budget for the costumes was $2 million.
This is the first feature film that Leonardo DiCaprio's production company "Appian Way" is involved with.
Many had tried to produce a Howard Hughes biopic before this. Among the failed attempts are:
Howard Hughes' Los Angeles home in the film was actually the home he lived on Muirland Drive.
Nicole Kidman was also considered for the role of Katharine Hepburn. When the scheduled start date was delayed by several months, Cate Blanchett became available after finishing filming The Missing (2003). Martin Scorsese claims that Blanchett had always been his first choice.
Leonardo DiCaprio received an Oscar nomination for playing Howard Hughes, as had Jason Robards for the film Melvin and Howard (1980). Mary Steenburgen won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in that film, just as Cate Blanchett did for this film.
The film's winning of the Best Cinematography Oscar has been attributed to the unique use of period color palette. The two and three-strip palette that is seen in the film was accomplished by the use of the LUT - 3D Look Up Table - graphics processor. It was designed by Joshua Pines, R&D VP of Technicolor Digital Intermediates. The processor was slipped into the digital projector and thus allowed filtering and applying the two / three color look into the negative.
The real Howard Hughes was still married to Ella Botts Rice during the production of Hell's Angels (1930) and would have been balancing romantic involvement with Evelyn Brent and Billie Dove.
Gwyneth Paltrow was originally signed on to play Ava Gardner but dropped out. She was replaced at the last minute with Kate Beckinsale.
Michael Mann was originally going to direct the film, but having directed back-to-back biopics The Insider (1999) and Ali (2001), he decided to produce instead, and offered the script to Martin Scorsese.
Production was delayed in October 2003, when wildfires in southern California burned several sets.
The original screenplay was inspired by the book "Howard Hughes: The Untold Story" by Peter Harry Brown and Pat Broeske.
The film's wide release date in the United States, 24 December 2004, would have been Howard Hughes' alleged 99th birthday (it is now known he was born on September 24).
Cate Blanchett had three different red-hair wigs for this film.
In his speech at the Golden Globes, Leonardo DiCaprio revealed that Michael Mann had a hand in writing the film's screenplay.
The film's prints are coming from a digital intermediate. This digital master has been digitally grain reduced from start to finish. As a result many moving textures (especially human skin) look smeared and very unnatural, like bad quality video watched on a slow LCD monitor.
Four of the miniature airplanes used in creating the effects for the film are now on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, home of the real Howard Hughes HK-1 "Spruce Goose". Models on display include two of the biplanes from the Hell's Angels (1930) sequence, most of the XF-11 model, and the motion-control "Spruce Goose". The "Spruce Goose" model is remarkably detailed, and even includes scale puppets of Howard Hughes and Dr. Fritz.
Barry Pepper was due to play Howard Hughes's chief engineer, Glenn Odekirk, but due to prior commitment and scheduling conflicts with the film Ripley Under Ground (2005), he had to drop out.
The film's portrayal of Faith Domergue conflates details of her life with that of Mamie Van Doren, whom Howard Hughes discovered and had a brief romance with.
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Bob Hoskins was originally considered for the role of Senator Owen Brewster.
Four of the actors in this film have been directed by Woody Allen: Alan Alda in Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Leonardo DiCaprio in Celebrity (1998), and Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (2013).
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Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright:  each appear as vocalists at the Coconut Grove nightclub during different eras. Loudon Wainwright guest starred in M*A*S*H (1972) which starred Alan Alda.
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Anne V. Coates:  appears as one of Howard Hughes' editors putting together the initial cut of Hell's Angels (1930).
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Director Cameo 

Martin Scorsese:  in a tuxedo and slicked hair, pulling a woman from behind Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he walks the red carpet with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). Scorsese also provides the voice of the projectionist Hughes talks to in the screening room.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The theme played both after Katharine Hepburn tells Howard that she's leaving him and after the scene in which Ava Gardner confronts Howard about bugging their home is 'Nightmare' by Artie Shaw, the very man whom Ava says she's having an affair with.

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