By Ryan Keating-Lambert
So amidst all of the presidential shite in your newsfeed, here’s something to celebrate. Donnie Darko, the time travelling and hallucinating schizophrenic superhero plagued by visions of ‘Frank’ the bunny, is celebrating his 15th anniversary. Let’s have a look at some details you may not know about this 2001 cult classic film that launched the career of Jake Gyllenhaal and that will soon be getting a remastered 4K release.
1. Donnie Darko was basically saved by Drew Barrymore’s production company ‘Flower Productions’ who put around 4.5 million into the film. Without this, it would’ve been a lower budget straight to DVD film or television series. Barrymore also stars in the film as English teacher Margaret Pomeroy.
2. The film didn’t do well at its Sundance premiere and was a bit of a flop, but later developed a cult following thanks to wider distribution and word-of-mouth. Inception director Christopher Nolan also helped by convincing Newmarket films to buy it.
3. The original Arabic style font on the poster had to be changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks although you can still see this font in the opening credits.
4. At the film’s wrap party, both Jake Gyllenhaal and Seth Rogan confessed that they had no idea what the movie was about. This was also Seth Rogan’s big screen debut.
5. Frank the bunny, played by James Duval, has become a somewhat iconic movie character and has even had a guest appearance in The Simpsons.
6. This was writer and director Richard Linklater’s first and most successful film to date.
7. Jake Gyllenhaal tried not to blink much during the film because he thought it’d make Donnie look more psychotic. Creepy!
8. Some popular actors were interested in taking the part of Donnie, including Vince Vaughn and Jason Schwartzman. Mark Wahlberg was very interested in the role but only wanted to do it if he could give Donnie a lisp…
9. Richard Kelly approached a lot of big name producers with the script, but they all told him it was too ambitious and too complicated, and also that he was too young. Kelly admits that it was his stubbornness that let him succeed in the end.
10. Kelly was inspired by Maggie Gyllenhaal after seeing her in Cecil B. DeMented, a film in which Gyllenhaal’s character drinks urine. Kelly cast her as Donnie’s sister because he wanted to see their real life sibling rivalry cross over into the film.
11. The film is set in the 1980s and despite everyone else being in costume, Patrick Swayze (Jim Cunningham) took stuff from his own 1980’s wardrobe.
12. Actress Mary McDonnell (Rose Darko) was actually given a speeding ticket on the first day of shooting because she was so excited about the project.
13. A Director’s Cut version of the film was released in 2004 with an additional 20 minutes of footage as well as some superimposed text from the book ‘The Philosophy of Time Travel’ which Donnie reads in the movie. Some say this text explains some of the more confusing scenes in the film.
Feature photo: Den of Geek