30 Fun Facts About “Misery”

Long before the internet or social media, the very best example of a toxic fandom was that of Annie Wilkes in Stephen King’s 1987 novel “Misery”.

Three years later and it got the cinematic treatment.  30 years later and it’s considered nothing short of a classic.  So on its 30 anniversary, we thought it would be fitting to look at 30 fun facts about Misery!

1. The original inspiration for King’s novel came from a nightmare he had while flying. According to an interview, he stated that in his dream, he woke up on the plane and there was a woman sitting next to him, and said in a crazed voice, “I’m your number one fan!”

2. Initially Jack Nicholson was offered the leading role of Paul Sheldon. However, he had such a difficult experience filming The Shining, he didn’t want to do another King adaptation.

3. Many famous actors were considered and even offered to play Paul Sheldon, but all of them turned it down out of fear of being overshadowed by Annie Wilkes.

4. After the success of Stand by Me, Stephen King trusted Rob Reiner with any and all of his books to adapt. He was very protective of “Misery” and only agree to sell the rights if Reiner either directed or produced it.

King claims that after seeing Stand by Me, he wept with joy as finally someone had understood his source material.

5. Annie Wilkes’ murder of infants as a nurse was loosely inspired by Genene Jones. She was a nurse who murdered dozens of children in the 70’s and 80’s.  In 1985, Jones was sentenced to 99 years in prison for her murders.

6. Originally, the goal was to turn “Misery” into a Broadway play. This would eventually happen in 2015 starring Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf.

7. Rob Reiner cited Alfred Hitchcock as his biggest inspiration for Misery’s tone and style.

8. Bette Midler was offered the role of Annie Wilkes, but declined due to the story’s violence. She has since expressed regret at her choice.

9. According to Reiner, James Caan was quite hungover for one day of shooting, and everything filmed that day had to be thrown out.

10. During filming, Kathy Bates got a bit frustrated with James Caan as he didn’t believe in rehearsing very much and she really wanted to (especially given her background in theater). Rob Reiner told her to channel it into her performance.

If definitely shows in the final film.

11. James Caan found it quite arduous to spend 15 weeks straight confined to a bed.

12. In the original novel, Annie chops off Paul’s foot with an axe. However, it was changed for the film to something less graphic and gory.

13. Kathy Bates actually had a hard time filming the infamous “hobbling” scene. She reportedly cried before shooting and really took issue with how violent it was.

14. In order to fully flesh out her character, Bates came up with a whole backstory. It included a tragic past of Annie being abused by her father.

15. Despite being set in winter, the film was mostly shot in the spring of 1990 in Nevada.

It could very easily pass for the mountains of Colorado.

16. Rob Reiner had a cameo as a helicopter pilot when they’re searching the area for Paul’s car.

17. James Caan, along with the rest of the crew, were reportedly very excited to shoot the scene where Paul picks the lock and looks around Annie’s house. They were all just thrilled to do a scene that didn’t revolve around Paul being in bed.

18. The film was shot by Director of Photography Barry Sonnenfeld, who would go on to direct The Addams Family (and its sequel), the Men in Black trilogy, and the Series of Unfortunate Events series on Netflix.

19. Rob Reiner claimed that the fight scene at the very end was very difficult to shoot, as he’s not a fan of choreographing fights.

It’s kind of surprising for Reiner to admit that, given the fact that he directed The Princess Bride.

20. Years later, Stephen King admitted that Annie Wilkes was a metaphor for his own addiction.

21. James Caan claims that to this day, people still ask him, “How are your legs, Jimmy?” in reference of Misery. He says he’s heard it at least a hundred thousand times.

22. Frances Sternhagan, who played Virginia (the sheriff’s wife), would go on to star in another King adaptation, The Mist 17 years later.

23. She remains King’s absolute favorite character that he’s ever written.

24. In a rare feat for a horror film, Kathy Bates won the Oscar of Best Actress in a Leading Role.

It marked the first time that this had ever happened. And the best part was, one year later, Kathy Bates presented the Best Actor award to Anthony Hopkins for Silence of the Lambs.

25. It was also a financial success, grossing $61.3 million on a $20 million budget.

26. Annie Wilkes was #17 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Villains list.

27. The character popped up again on the Stephen King inspired series Castle Rock on Hulu in 2019.

Lizzy Caplan really did a brilliant job channeling the Kathy Bates/Annie Wilkes energy for the season.

28. The story was also adapted in a Tamil-language film in India in 2003 titled Julie Ganapathi.

29. Following Bates’ Oscar-winner performance, King specifically wrote “Dolores Claiborne” with her in mind.

30. The movie itself was nominated for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards, but lost to Silence of the Lambs.

Which of these did you already know?  Which ones surprised you?  What’s your favorite Saw movie?  Let us know in the comments!

For more fun facts, reviews, rankings, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube!

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