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Milk (2008) Poster

(I) (2008)

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (4) | 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.")
Actor Denis O'Hare who plays anti-gay Senator John Briggs in the film is in reality openly gay.
Thousands of people agreed to take part in the film as extras for free.
During the filming of the scene in which Dan White's son Charles is christened, the real Charles White was on the set.
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 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.
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.
The apartment that was used in the film is the real apartment Harvey Milk lived in on the Lower Haight in San Francisco.
Josh Brolin was welcomed by the gay community, and praised for portraying "The most hated man in San Francisco's history".
Sean Penn became only the ninth actor to win two Academy Awards for Best Actor after winning for this movie.
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.
The film made Roger Ebert's year-end list of the 20 best movies of 2008. Ebert did not rank his picks that year, opting instead for an alphabetical list. He later said that the film was the most deserving of all the Best Picture Oscar nominees.
Chris Evans auditioned for the role of Scott Smith, but lost out to James Franco.
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.
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.
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 filmed Milk (2008), in which he and Sean Penn play lovers).
Harvey Milk was 48 years old when he was killed in 1978. Sean Penn was 48 when the movie was released.
Bradley Cooper auditioned for the role of Scott Smith.
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).
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.
Victor Garber is openly gay. George Moscone's son, theater director Jonathan Moscone, came out as gay during a ceremony for his father and Harvey Milk in 1998.
According to Josh Brolin, the scene where Dan White is on his underwear looking scared through the window was not scripted like that, but was just the result on actor and director trying different things to convey White's state of paranoia.
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Matt Damon was originally cast as Dan White. He had to back out due to scheduling conflicts with Green Zone (2010).
The movie starts out with Harvey Milk talking into a tape recorder on Saturday, November 18th, 1978, the same day as the Jonestown Massacre. The People's Temple was based in San Francisco before departing for Guyana in 1977.
Scott Smith's last name is never mentioned until the epilogue. Jack Lira's last name is only given in the credits.
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Josh Brolin doesn't appear until 45 minutes into the movie.
Film debut of Boyd Holbrook.
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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).
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Number 9 on Owen Gleiberman's Entertainment Weekly Magazine list of the 10 best movies of 2008.
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In 2016, while a guest on the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air," Cleve Jones told the interviewer Terry Gross that several weeks before filming on Milk began, he and Emile Hirsch (who played him in the movie) met and started spending time together so that Hirsch could base his portrayal on the real Jones: "I got to show him my neighborhoods and places I'd lived. We had meals together. We became friends. And it's a peculiar sensation to know that you're being watched by an actor who's going to portray you. And I will say that there was one moment...when I'm driving around town and I suddenly realized that I was trying to butch it up. I was so horrified when I realized what I was doing. That's when I took him back and made spaghetti and said, now listen, you know, OK, I'm a big old queen but I'm not a cartoon. I'm not a caricature, and you better get this right. But he did, he did. I loved the movie."
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Number 2 on Lisa Schwarzbaum's Entertainment Weekly Magazine list of the 10 best movies of 2008.
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Since the Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), there were numerous attempts to tell the story of Milk in a feature film, including one with Robin Williams in the lead.
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Deliberately released two weeks before California voted on Proposition 8, a referendum to overturn the legality of gay marriage. California passed the proposition, though this has since been overturned.
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Developed concurrently with "The Mayor of Castro Street" which was scripted by Oliver Stone with Bryan Singer attached as director. This project was ultimately shelved, torpedoed by the writers' strike.
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Banned in Samoa.
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Some of the clothing worn in the movie by Sean Penn was borrowed from Gilbert Baker, a friend of Harvey's. Gilbert Baker is famous for being the creator of the Rainbow Flag, the symbol of the LGBTQ+ Community. His clothes were another authentic piece of history added to the movie.
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Cameo 

Cleve Jones: as Don Amador.
Dustin Lance Black: one half of the couple that walks by the Castro camera shop after it's closed, when Harvey Milk is inside. 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.
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Carol Ruth Silver: The real Carol Ruth Silver has a cameo in the film as Thelma.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

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.
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.

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