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Rachel Weisz did not appear in this third installment of "The Mummy" films, and instead, her character, Evy, was played by Maria Bello. There were differing accounts as to why this happened. According to director Rob Cohen, it was because Weisz refused to portray someone with a 21-year-old son. Weisz simply did not like the script enough to sign on. Rumours circulated that Weisz chose not to be seperated from her (toddler) son at the time, but she has since made it clear that this had no impact on her decision whatsoever, and pointed to two other films that she starred in that very year.
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Since Jet Li was only available for a part of the shoot, it was decided that the Emperor would be either a rotting mummy or encased in terracotta in most of his scenes. In that way, Li could play the Emperor in the flesh, and the remainder of his role would be done by a CGI character.
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The crossbow traps in the tomb scene were based in reality. According to Chinese archaeologists, the excavation of the Qin Dynasty Terracotta Army in Xi'an is progressing so slowly, partially because the site is filled with similar traps.
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The filmmakers originally considered bringing back Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep, except this time, he's a last-resort ally who helps the heroes defeat the Dragon Emperor. Vosloo hated the script and didn't want to make a Mummy movie without Stephen Sommers, so he declined to return. Oded Fehr was also asked to reprise his role as Ardeth Bay. Fehr declined because Imhotep was not to be in the film, and had felt that if there was no Imhotep, then Ardeth Bay had no point or reason to appear in the movie.
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The small device that triggers a trap by dropping a bronze marble from a dragon's mouth to a frog's mouth is inspired by an ancient instrument that could predict the direction of a coming earthquake. It is considered the first seismograph.
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In the closing scene, a screen text reveals that mummies were soon thereafter discovered in Peru, a possible stinger for a sequel (Peru is home to the ancient Inca civilization, which also mummified their important members). There was indeed going to be a third sequel titled "The Mummy 4: Rise of the Aztecs", but since Aztecs are native to Mexico, it probably would not have been set in Peru. Brendan Fraser and the cast of the third film had signed up for the sequel, and Antonio Banderas would have played the main antagonist. However, the film was canceled in favor of the reboot The Mummy (2017), which was meant to be the first chapter in the 'Dark Universe', interconnected movies featuring the classic movie monsters such as the Mummy, Dracula, Jeckyl and Hyde, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein. However, due to the critical and commercial failure of The Mummy (2017), all other proposed movies were eventually scrapped.
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At the book reading, Evy is asked if her book series was actually based on her, and she answers, "Honestly, I can say she's a completely different person." This is, of course, an inside joke, alluding to the fact that Rachel Weisz, who played Evy in the first two films, was replaced by Maria Bello in this film.
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The plot element of Jonathan Carnehan as the owner of a casino attacked by the bad guys was planned for The Mummy Returns (2001), but it was cut due to budget constraints and, brought back for this film.
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Brendan Fraser and John Hannah are the only actors to appear in all three "The Mummy" movies released between 1999 and 2008 (which excludes the reboot The Mummy (2017), starring Tom Cruise).
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The tomb of the Dragon Emperor, with its terracotta warriors, is inspired by the real-life tomb of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, in Xi'an, China.
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This film marked the Hollywood debut for Chinese martial arts sensation Jing Wu, who has a cameo as one of the assassins having a brief but furious battle with fellow Wu Shu expert Jet Li, at the beginning of the film.
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The Himalaya Mountain scenes were actually filmed on a soundstage in sweltering Summer heat. Maria Bello claimed that she was only wearing a bra under her coat.
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Rob Cohen had always been very fascinated by Chinese culture and history, so when he was approached and heard the story was set in China, he immediately signed on as director. He insisted that the movie be filmed in China as much as possible, and made sure that ancient Chinese culture and art be depicted as accurately as possible.
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Originally, Rob Cohen was going to kill off Rick O'Connell.
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The box of explosives read "Voeten Dynamite." This is a nod to first assistant director P.J. Voeten.
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The name of the night club owned by Jonathan is Imhotep's. Imhotep is the name of the mummy in the first two "The Mummy" movies.
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Almost all of the technical crew from the Montreal filming location had custom made dog-tags with either "Foundation Soldier" or "Terracotta Warrior" and their names. The whole crew decided to do so after documentary filmmaker T.G. Matthews and a few other crew members had some done for fun.
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Brendan Fraser, who plays Rick, was born in 1968. Maria Bello, who plays Evelyn, was born in 1967. Luke Ford, who plays their son, Alex, was born in 1981, making him thirteen years younger than Fraser and fourteen years younger than Bello.
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Maria Bello, after taking over the Evy Carnahan role, dyed her hair to auburn, to slightly look like her predecessor, Rachel Weisz, although Bello is natural blonde.
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After the emperor has been awakened, the heroes ride in a cart containing fireworks. The box has "Tse Kar Wai" written on it. This is an alternate name for Doris Tse, a co-producer on the film.
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This film reunites martial arts actors Jet Li and Russell Wong. They previously worked together on Romeo Must Die (2000), which was released 8 years prior to this film.
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This was the third movie directed by Rob Cohen to include the word "dragon" in the title. He previously directed Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) and DragonHeart (1996).
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Joe Johnston was offered the directors job, but opted to direct Universal's remake of "The Wolf Man" instead.
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Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh had previously worked together in Tai Chi Master.
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April Hong and Michelle Yeoh both worked on Kung Fu Panda 2.
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Michelle Yeoh and Maria Bello both worked in main roles with Pierce Brosnan. Yeoh played Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies and Maria Bello in Butterfly on a Wheel .
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Second empasis project of 5 by Jet Li, to jointly have cast members attending in a single PR media event adjacent to 'The Rose Theatre' sites, newly opened 'Playhouse/Museum', in same week as UK, London premiere of 'Unleashed' in 2005. Hero, War, plus Fearless, completing the ensembled group.
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A slightly extended final fight between Rick, Alex and the Emperor was originally shot. After Rick (Brendan Fraser) manages to get the upper hand, the Emperor (Jet Li) changes back into a terracotta statue, which is subsequently broken into pieces by Rick. However, the pieces reassemble, forcing Rick and Alex (Luke Ford) to fight him together. The extended scene is included in the bonus material on the Blu-ray version.
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