25 Gritty Facts About “Se7en”

There’s something inherently frightening, but fascinating about serial killers.  For some reason people seem drawn to stories about them, sometimes even to unhealthy levels of obsession.

So it’s no surprise that movies like Se7en gain critical acclaim.  Among many critics there’s a snobby bias against horror films, so movies like this often get called thrillers, but make no mistake, Se7en is definitely a horror film.

And in recognition of its 25th anniversary, we thought it would be fun to take a look at 25 facts about this movie that inspired so many nightmares!

1. After an incredibly rough experience fighting with the studio on Alien 3, David Fincher’s primary goal was to have more control of Se7en.

2. Guillermo del Toro was offered the chance to direct, but turned it down because even he felt that it was too dark and gritty, even for him.

While he definitely has a dark style, Guillermo del Toro films are far too imaginative and colorful to fit in with Se7en.

3. Before casting Brad Pitt, Sylvester Stallone was reportedly offered the role of Mills, which he turned down. It definitely would have made for a very different movie.

4. Originally the executives at New Line Cinema weren’t fans of the ending at all. However, Brad Pitt insisted that he wouldn’t do the movie unless the ending remained as is.

5. Originally, R. Lee Ermey auditioned for the villainous John Doe, but they felt he would be better as the police captain. A veteran of the USMC, Ermey was known for playing police and military roles.

6. Initially Gwyneth Paltrow had no interest in appearing in the movie, however her real life boyfriend and costar at the time, Brad Pitt convinced her to.

Her character doesn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the movie, but that’s kind of the point. She’s the pure, innocent heart and soul of it.

7. Brad Pitt really did injure his warm while filming, so his cast was real and had to written into the movie.

8. In order to achieve his incredibly manic state in the interrogation scene, Leland Orser took hits of pure oxygen in between takes.

9. Morgan Freeman’s son Alfonso, had a brief cameo as a fingerprint tech.

10. While shooting the gluttony scene, the production poured seven crates of cockroaches all over the set. Reportedly, one of them even crawled in actor Bob Mack’s underwear.

11. The sloth victim Victor was played an actual actor, Michael Reid MacKay, who weighed only 90 pounds during filming. Due to his incredibly slender physique, he’s played roles of creatures/ghosts/monsters in The Monster Squad, Insidious: Chapter 3, as well as Bane (before the transformation) in Batman and Robin.

It took a whopping 14 hours in makeup to get him to look like this, and the result memorably sickening!

12. John Doe’s large collection of composition books were fully written out and completed, which took two months to do before shooting started.

13. During the greed scene, actor Gene Borkan was covered in so much fake blood that he got stuck to the floor.

14. Despite being a movie about a brutal serial killer, only one kill is seen on screen, when Mills shoots John Doe at the very end.

15. The production made a fake severed head for Gwyneth Paltrow, but wound up not using it. It sat in storage for years and was later used for her character’s autopsy scene on 2011’s Contagion.

The scene is all the more powerful because we don’t actually see it.

16. The city in the movie is never named, but screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker said he wrote the script while living in New York City, with it in mind (despite entirely being shot around Los Angeles).

17. Because of the nature of the twist ending, Kevin Spacey didn’t receive any top billing, and didn’t have to participate in any press or promotional appearances for the movie.

Knowing what we now know about Kevin Spacey, it makes his performance here much more frightening, in a legitimately upsetting, not fun way.

18. Andrew Kevin Walker would go on to write scripts for 8MM, Sleepy Hollow, and the 2010 remake of The Wolfman.

19. Se7en marked the first collaboration of Brad Pitt and David Fincher. They would go on to work together again in Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

20. In order to give the movie a darker look, a process called bleach bypassing was done the film stock. Nowadays, this would just be done via digital color grading.

21. Ironically, 6 years after the movie was released the Patriot Act gave legal permission for library records to be pulled, which this movie made a big deal about being very illegal in 1995.

If this came out today, the surveillance would have gone a lot further than just library records.

22. Se7en remained #1 at the US Box Office for 4 consecutive weeks, and wound up grossing $100 million domestically ($327 million worldwide) on a $33 million budget.

23. It was nominated for Best Editing at the Oscars, but lost to Apollo 13.

24. It did however win Best Movie at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards.

25. The majority of critics praised the movie, particularly Roger Ebert, who put it on his “Great Movies” list.

Which of these did you already know?  Which ones surprised you?  Let us know in the comments!

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