Milk (2008) Poster

(I) (2008)


Jump to: Cameo (3) | Spoilers (2)
After his first kissing scene with James Franco, Sean Penn texted his ex-wife Madonna saying, "I just broke my cherry kissing a guy." (Her texted response: "Congratulations.")
Thousands of people agreed to take part in the film as extras for free.
Actor Denis O'Hare who plays anti-gay Senator John Briggs in the film is in reality openly gay.
During the filming of the scene in which Dan White's son Charles is christened, the real Charles White was on the set.
The filming location for Harvey Milk's business, Castro Camera, was the real storefront where the actual business had once been. At the time of filming (mid-2008), it was a gift shop called "Given"; the film crew worked with the owner of the gift shop to recreate the look of Milk's camera store inside the space and restored it to its 2008 appearance after filming.
Sean Penn's cosmetic transformation in the film included a prosthetic nose and teeth, contact lenses and a redesigned hairline. His makeup was done by Academy Award winner Stephan Dupuis.
The last public appearance of Harvey Milk's life, two days before he was killed, was attending a San Francisco Opera performance of Puccini's opera "Tosca" featuring the legendary Italian soprano Magda Olivero, on Saturday, November 25th, 1978. Not only is this event depicted in the movie, but it was in honor of that appearance that the filmmakers chose to use "Tosca" for all the operatic music heard in the film.
Sean Penn became only the ninth actor to win two Academy Awards for Best Actor after winning for this movie.
Josh Brolin, who played Dan White, was welcomed by the gay community and given praise for portraying "The most hated man in San Francisco's history".
It was widely reported that while filming a scene at the old Castro Camera, some of the actors claimed that they saw a man come in and sit on a couch. After the scene was filmed, nobody else claimed to have seen the man, and the actors themselves went on to claim that it was perhaps the ghost of Harvey Milk.
The apartment that was used in the film is the real apartment Harvey Milk lived in on the Lower Haight in San Francisco.
During a July 2008 interview with the Orange County Register about Pineapple Express (2008), the interviewer told Seth Rogen and James Franco that he prepared for the interview by watching the classic stoner comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) the night before. When he asked Rogen and Franco if they prepared likewise before making Pineapple Express, Franco said he prepared by making out with Spicoli (a reference to his having shot Milk (2008), in which he and Sean Penn play lovers).
On Roger Ebert's year-end list of the 20 best movies of 2008. Ebert did not rank his picks this year, opting instead for an alphabetical list. (He later said that Milk (2008) was the most deserving of all the Best Picture Oscar nominees.)
The real Cleve Jones has a cameo in the film as Don Amador.
During the sequence dealing with Proposition 6, one of Milk's friends says "Even Reagan doesn't support it." Former Governor Ronald Reagan was so opposed to the measure that he publicly went against the Republican Party on the issue, even though he had been mentioned as a serious candidate for the Presidential election in 1980 and risked alienating his conservative support base. His support was given a great deal of credit for Proposition 6's defeat and contributed to his growing national profile ahead of his two elections as President of the United States.
Chris Evans auditioned for the role of Scott Smith, but lost out to James Franco.
Director Gus Van Sant has been involved with the making of Harvey Milk projects for over fifteen years. For his unsuccessful attempt to film The Mayor of Castro Street (2011) in the early 1990s, many actors were under consideration for the role of Harvey Milk including Robin Williams, Richard Gere, Daniel Day-Lewis, and James Woods.
Veteran police officer and actor Brian Danker, seen in this movie in his first speaking role in the homicide scene, actually served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 in the same unit as Dan White - the 173rd Airborne.
The movie starts out with Harvey Milk talking into a tape recorder on Saturday, November 18th, 1978, the very same day that the Jonestown Massacre occurred. In 1977, Jim Jones heavily requested an airplane to mayor, 'George Moscone (I)' provided one so the Jim Jones' Peoples Temple group could depart the United States of America, the airplane went southeast to Guyana, South America.
Bradley Cooper auditioned for the role of Scott Smith.
On the American Film Institute's year-end list of the 10 best movies of 2008 (this list is decided by a group of film scholars, journalists, and professionals, including Jeanine Basinger, Mark Harris, Elvis Mitchell, Daniel Petrie Jr., Richard Schickel, Robert Towne, and Leonard Maltin).
Number 2 on Lisa Schwarzbaum's Entertainment Weekly Magazine list of the 10 best movies of 2008.
Number 9 on Owen Gleiberman's Entertainment Weekly Magazine list of the 10 best movies of 2008.
When Gus Van Sant was planning a biopic of Milk in the early 90's he offered the part of Cleve Jones to River Phoenix, who he had just worked with on My Own Private Idaho (1991).
Scott Smith's last name is never mentioned until the epilogue, and Jack Lira's last name is only given in the credits.
Josh Brolin doesn't appear until 45 minutes into the movie.
Matt Damon was originally cast as Dan White, but had to back out due to scheduling conflicts with Green Zone (2010).


Dustin Lance Black:  The screenwriter appears as one half of the couple that walks by the Castro camera shop after it's closed, when Harvey Milk is inside and one of the men asks if Harvey was going to win this time.
Tom Ammiano:  The California Assemblyman and former San Francisco Supervisor plays himself. He was a founder in the No On 6 Campaign.
Carol Ruth Silver:  The real Carol Ruth Silver has a cameo in the film as Thelma.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Daniel Nicoletta:  The real Danny Nicoletta has a cameo in the film as the person in Harvey Milk's office just before Harvey Milk was assassinated by Dan White. In real life, Nicoletta was the last person to speak to Harvey Milk in his office at San Francisco City Hall, shortly before Harvey Milk was assassinated, perhaps the same moment Dan White assassinated mayor, 'George Moscone (I)', that Monday morning, November 27th, 1978.
At the end of the film, images of the actors costumed as their characters are replaced by photographs of the real people the actors portrayed. Many of these photos were taken by Daniel Nicoletta, who is the photographer played by Lucas Grabeel in the movie.

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