By Ryan Keating-Lambert

It’s been 15 years! ‘Donnie Darko’, the time travelling schizophrenic superhero and his  bunny pal ‘Frank’ recently celebrated a massive 15th anniversary. Let’s have a look at some of the things you may not know about this now cult classic film, which launched the career of Jake Gyllenhaal and has recently been remastered in 4K.

frank-the-rabbit-unplated-mask
Photo: VillainsWiki

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.

donnie-darko-1
Photo: Blogspot

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 Kelly’s first, and also 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.

donnie-darko-7
Photo: CinemaSoto

8. Some other actors were interested in taking the part of Donnie, including Vince Vaughn and also 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 that he was also too young. Kelly admits that it was his stubbornness that let him to 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 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 ’80s 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 superimposed pages from the fictional 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

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