Thank You for Smoking (2005) Poster


When the rights for the film were first purchased in the 1990s, Mel Gibson was going to play Nick Naylor.
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As part of the message the movies promotes, no one is shown smoking a cigarette throughout the entire movie. In fact, except in the black and white film that Naylor watches, no one is seen even holding a cigarette. Naylor holds an empty packet and The Captain holds an (unlit) cigar.
Director Jason Reitman wrote individual letters to each of the stars in the film, telling them why they would be right for the part. Every one of his first choices accepted their parts and most thanked Reitman for his great letter.
When Nick and Joey are riding the Ferris wheel, their "ice cream" is really mashed potatoes. This is because hot movie lighting causes real ice cream to melt too quickly to ensure continuity from shot to shot. The use of mashed potatoes is an old photography trick used commonly in the advertising industry (which this movie is about), and is something infinitely more desirable than the other oft-used ice cream substitutes in film or photography: Crisco or Lard.
Sam Elliott's character, Lorne Lutch, is based on real "Marlboro Man" model Wayne McLaren, who contracted lung cancer, testified for anti-smoking legislation, and had the Phillip Morris Company try to deny he was in the ads. Two other models, David McLean and Dick Hammer, also died of lung cancer. A fourth, Eric Lawson, died of respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, at the age of 72 in 2014.
One of Sam Elliott's conditions to do the part was to have him carry a rifle in a scene instead of the scripted shotgun. Director Jason Reitman agreed to change the script. When they were about to do the scene, Reitman realized that he had forgotten about the rifle and went to the prop wagon frantically, hoping to find one. There were three guns laying on the tailgate, two shotguns and a rifle. When Elliott picked up the rifle, Reitman breathed a sigh of relief. He asked Elliott if he needed instruction on how to use it. Elliott declined and said that he knew how to use it because the rifle was his.
17 minutes into the film, an ad saying "More doctors smoke Alpacas than any other cigarette" can be seen. This is a spoof on Camel cigarettes, which used that slogan on paper and on old time radio advertisements.
William H. Macy came up with the line, "The great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese." His original line was, "Why, you son of a..."
Christopher Buckley's father, columnist William F. Buckley Jr., died of emphysema in 2008. One of Bill Buckley's last columns before his death was entitled "My Smoking Confessional," in which he wrote he would ban smoking in United States if he had the authority.
Rob Lowe filmed all his scenes in one day.
John Wayne's estate normally refuses to license images of Wayne smoking, due to his death from lung cancer. Director Jason Reitman sent a copy of the script to Wayne's son, Patrick Wayne, with a letter explaining that the film was a satire that did not glamorize smoking. Upon reading the script, Wayne agreed to allow the clip of his father to be used.
The movie's title can be seen on a placard on B.R.'s desk.
The Academy of Tobacco Studies building in Washington, D.C. is really the Department of Energy (the James Forrestal Building) on Independence Avenue SW. The Academy's sign is superimposed over the actual Department of Energy sign.
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When Nick mentions how smoking was affected by the development of motion pictures, he briefly refers to a scene between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The scene is from the movie To Have and Have Not (1944).
When Nick Naylor is sitting with his son, Joey Naylor, waiting to meet Jeff Megall, they are watching BBC's The Blue Planet (2001).
The black and white film that Naylor watches is the end of Sands of Iwo Jima (1949).
The rifle that Lutch aims at Nick was Sam Elliott's personal Winchester Model 1894 that Elliot had brought with him.
Leading up to its release, it was reported by numerous trade magazines that Tom Cruise had demanded a sex scene involving his wife, Katie Holmes, be cut from the movie. At the 2006 Hay-On-Wye book festival, director Jason Reitman dismissed this report as complete rubbish, explaining that these reports came from the film's first festival screening where an overzealous projectionist had accidentally cut the scene when splicing the film together (an easy mistake to make, as the scene came at the end of a reel and followed a couple of seconds of black). At a Q&A that followed said screening, Reitman mentioned to the festival audience that there was a missing sex scene in the version they just saw, which was somehow seen by (equally overzealous) reporters as being a result of Tom Cruise and/or Scientology's involvement.
Dwayne Johnson was considered for the role of Nick Naylor.
Finistirre, the last name of William H. Macy's character, is a misspelling of "finisterre," the ancient Latin expression for the edge of the flat earth. It means literally "end (finis) of the earth (terre)," or "land's end." It is also the name of the most western point of the Spanish region of Galicia, as well as the name of a French "département" (county) of Finistère located at the most western point of the country. The character's first name is Ortolan, which is the scientific name of a tiny bird controversially force-fed, drowned, and consumed whole in French cuisine.
WILHELM SCREAM: During the Kent State shootings reminiscence.
When Heather is watching Nick's press conference on her, a co-worker's placard bears the name of Theresa Greene, the art department coordinator for the movie.
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Christopher Nolan cast Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent in his film The Dark Knight (2008), after seeing Eckhart's performance in Thank You for Smoking (2005).
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Michael McKean participated in a public reading of the film's script before it was produced.
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A few characters in this film have alliterative names: Nick Naylor, Heather Holloway, Bobby Jay Bliss, and Lorne Lutch (aka Marlboro Man). This is similar to the naming customs for certain comic book heroes, particularly the Marvel gang (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, etc.), which is a noteworthy coincidence because many of this movie's actors have been in comic book based movies or TV shows (including cartoon voices): Katie Holmes in Batman Begins (2005), Aaron Eckhart in that movie's sequel, The Dark Knight (2008), J.K. Simmons in three "Spider-Man" movies, Maria Bello in A History of Violence (2005), William H. Macy in Mystery Men (1999) and Superman: Where There's Smoke (1998) (which, as a further coincidence, has a title similar to this movie), Sam Elliott in Hulk (2003) and Ghost Rider (2007), Cameron Bright in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Melora Hardin in The Rocketeer (1991), Todd Louiso in Iron Man: Iron Man, on the Inside (1995), Marianne Muellerleile in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman: The People vs. Lois Lane (1996), and in Kim Dickens in Fear the Walking Dead (2015). In addition, Marc Scizak (one of the ski masked men) had performed stunts in several such productions.
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This movie was selected for the Deauville American Film Festival 2006.
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The film cast includes two Oscar winners, Robert Duvall and J.K. Simmons, and one Oscar nominee, William H. Macy.
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Christopher Buckley: the author can be seen at the metro station reading Heather's article about Nick.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Sam Elliott wanted his character to refuse to take the money. Director Jason Reitman spent three hours persuading him to do the part as scripted.
The courtroom news clip at the end of the movie is not footage of a tobacco executive on trial, but shows the trial footage of Detroit Police Officer Larry Nevers on trial for the death of Malice Green.
In the kidnapping scene, actor Stanley Tucci appears (uncredited) as the unnamed man lecturing Nick Naylor while his accomplices cover Nick with tobacco patches in an attempt to kill him.
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