By 1999, Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest A-listers in all of Hollywood. Audiences had seen him tangle with terminators, contend with kindergarteners, pursue a predator, and do battle with Batman and barbarians, but he had yet to take on the most worthy adversary in the universe: the devil himself!
As hard as it may be to believe, 20 years have now passed since End of Days was first released, back in 1999. And to commemorate that, here are 20 fun facts, one for each year since it came out!
1. The script was originally written with Tom Cruise in mind, however he ultimately passed on it in order to star in Magnolia. It’s interesting to think about what a Tom Cruise led End of Days would have looked like.
He sort of dabbled in action horror with 2017’s The Mummy, and if that’s any indicator, perhaps it’s best that Arnold Schwarzenegger did the movie instead.
2. Screenwriter Andrew Marlowe had already seen success by writing Air Force One. He would also go on the write the screenplay for Hollow Man, as well as create the TV series Castle.
3. While the CGI isn’t the best, and feels rather dated in the late 90’s, the practical makeup effects were brilliantly done by Stan Winston and his team.
Winston was a legend in the business and had used brilliant practical makeup effects for Jurassic Park, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Edward Scissorhands, and many, many more!
4. No one was initially certain if Arnold Schwarzenegger would be up to the task of starring, as he had recently undergone a heart valve replacement surgery. Representatives from the insurance company even visited to set to ensure that his health wouldn’t be liability.
5. 1999 proved to be quite the devilishly horrific year for Gabriel Byrne, who played Satan in End of Days, and a priest in Stigmata. However, it wouldn’t be his last time dabbling in the demonic, as he also starred in 2018’s Hereditary!
6. The film’s creepy score includes four notes from the infamous “Dies Irae”, a Gregorian chant from medieval times used for funerals. These four particular notes are most notable from their inclusion in the theme music for The Shining.
7. Initially, Udo Kier was considered for the part of Satan, due to his awesome ability to be extremely creepy. But when Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast as the protagonist, it was decided that they didn’t want both the hero and villain to have German/Austrian accents, so Kier was given another role as the Satan-worshipping doctor.
8. Several character names had symbolic and biblical meaning. The protagonist’s last name “Jericho” shares the name of a famous city from the Bible whose walls collapsed during an iconic battle. Also, the priest trying to kill Christine to “save” the world, Thomas Aquinas, shares a name with a 13th century Catholic priest/philosopher.
9. Before casting Robin Tunney in the role of Christine, Liv Tyler was considered. Tyler would have technically have been closer in age to the character (20), as she was 21 at the time. Tunney herself was 26 while filming, but looked young enough to pull off 20.
10. End of Days marks the only film in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entire career where his character dies. Sure, the several terminators he played throughout that franchise were destroyed, but none of them were technically human, and therefore didn’t “die”.
11. On the subject of that ending, the original one involved Jericho surviving, but it actually didn’t test well with audiences. It seemed that, despite the fact that he was dying, audiences preferred it, because it meant a reunion with his wife and daughter in heaven.
12. Many have referred to End of Days as Rod Steiger’s last film, but it’s really more of a half-truth. It was his final American studio film, but he acted in a few German movies and made-for-TV films until his passing in 2002.
13. While only getting a few seconds of screen time, Jericho’s daughter Amy was portrayed by Renee Olstead. She would go on to have a very successful musical career as a singer in both jazz and country. She also had a major roles on TV series like Still Standing and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
14. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s real life daughter visited the set, but just so happened to come on the day that her father’s crucifixion scene was being filmed. Certainly that wasn’t at all traumatic to see!
15. Actress Miriam Margolyes (best known for portraying Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) didn’t have a great time playing the devil’s servant Mabel.
According to her, Arnold Schwarzenegger farted in her face while she was lying on the ground, supposed to be dead. According to an interview with “Reader’s Digest”, she shouted, “F**k you Arnie!” in response.
16. Despite only appearing in brief scenes, fans of Breaking Bad will recognize the pope as the explosive Hector Salamanca himself, Mark Margolis. On that show he played a Mexican, in End of Days, he was Italian, but his ethnic background is actually Polish/Russian Jewish.
Interestingly, the closest role he’s played to his actual nationality was when he played an Israeli bounty hunter, tracking down runaway Nazis in American Horror Story: Asylum.
17. While its cheesiness has landed it a bit of cult following, End of Days was not very well received upon release.
It was nominated for 3 Razzies (Worst Actor, Supporting Actor, and Director), but “lost” to Adam Sander (Big Daddy), Ahmed Best (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), and Barry Sonnenfield (Wild Wild West) respectively.
18. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was disappointed by the final product. He was very critical of director Peter Hyams for his lighting choices, and overall style of direction. He had come recommended by James Cameron, which Arnold (and many others) admitted was the only reason they were on board with him from the start.
Hyams has defended himself by arguing that there is a strong bias in Hollywood against directors who shoot their own films and act as their own directors of photography (which he also did on End of Days).
19. Before Hyams was hired, both Sam Raimi and Guillermo Del Toro were offered the chance to direct, but turned it down to work on other projects. Had either of them done it, we probably would have gotten a very different (and better) film, utilizing their very unique styles.
20. End of Days remains very much a time capsule of the late 90’s as it perfectly tapped into the real life fears behind the year 2000 (or Y2K, as it was called), and the alleged electronic issues that would ensue.
Many even bought generators and prepared for a post-apocalyptic existence. There had been plenty of films about the devil before, but releasing one in 1999 was sort of the perfect year for it!
Which of these surprised you, or were there any that you already knew? Let us know in the comments below! And for more reviews, rankings, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!