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10 Facts: Donnie Darko


Donnie Darko was released in 2001. This Science Fiction / Thriller movie is one of my favorite films of all time. Over the last 15 years this film has reached cult status, mostly because it was light years ahead of anything else that was released in its genre at that time. It’s timeless and has been described as a Modern Classic by many film critics.

Today I’m pointing out 10 facts about Donnie Darko that you may or may not have known:

  • Writer / Director Richard Kelly grew up in Midlothian, Virginia, which was the town used in the original script, but was later changed to Middlesex.
  • Many of the songs featured in the movie were substitutes. Producers were unable to secure rights to the original choices. The dance performance was performed to ‘West End Girls’ by the Pet Shop Boys but Duran Duran’s ‘Notorious’ replaced it in post-production.
  • The original poster art for the movie had an Arabic-style font. This was changed to a more common typeface for the video release because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • Seth Devlin, the main bully in the movie, has a name that sounds like devil. There is a sticker inside his school locker that says “What would Satan do?”
  • Richard Kelly was slightly hesitant towards casting Maggie Gyllenhaal, but he did like the way she convincingly drank urine in the movie Cecil B. Demented. He settled on Maggie because he realized he wouldn’t have to work hard at creating a sibling rivalry between the real life siblings.
  • Donnie Darko was Seth Rogen’s film debut.
  • The film made just a little over $500,000 in its initial theatrical release in 2001. After word spread that there was a weird little sci-fi movie featuring Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze with an utterly confusing storyline that had viewers spending hours attempting to understand it, the film made more than $15 million in DVD sales.
  • Richard Kelly sought permission from the estate of Peyo, the Belgian creator of the diminutive blue creatures, to show a Smurf doll for Donnie and his friends to shoot at. On the same conference call, he was told that Donnie would also be allowed to talk about Smurf sex, because what had been written in the script was considered an accurate description.
  • In 2009, Daveigh Chase reprised her role as Donnie’s sister, Samantha Darko, in S. Darko—a poorly reviewed sequel that was made without Kelly’s involvement. In 2005, Kelly made it clear that he would never shoot a sequel to Donnie Darko because it would “destroy its integrity.”
  • Due to the extremely low budget of the movie, composer Michael Andrews had to play all the instruments in the score. He did manage to get his friend Gary Jules to sing the cover of “Mad World,” which turned out to be lucky for Jules as the song became a number 1 hit. It reached the top of the UK Charts in 2003.

Well, there you have it, 10 Facts about Donnie Darko. I trust that you’ve found these facts to be interesting. Have a listen to “Mad World” by Gary Jules below:

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