Stanley Kubrick: 10 facts you might not know

Mike P Williams
16 November 2012

Often described as one of the greatest visionaries of all time, Stanley Kubrick may have only made a total of thirteen films in his 46 year career, but there's plenty worth talking about when it comes to his personal life and the impact and process of making some of his more famous films.

Fact 1: After stepping in to direct 'Spartacus' when Kirk Douglas fell out with original director Anthony Mann, Kubrick ruffled feathers in the crew. Cinematographer Russell Metty complained to his producer that Kubrick was trying to muscle in on his job. Kubrick's response was to tell Metty to sit there on set and do nothing. He obliged, and ironically ended up winning the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Fact 2: Kubrick's fear of flying is well documented. After moving to England, he refused to fly anywhere and instead would only travel by boat, despite possessing a Pilot's License. To accommodate his phobia, he filmed all his films post 'Spartacus' in England. These included Vietnam-based 'Full Metal Jacket' and New York-set 'Eyes Wide Shut'.

Fact 3: During the filming of 'A Clockwork Orange', he became very close friends with lead Malcolm McDowell, and the pair developed a tight relationship. However, and much to McDowell's bemusement, when the film was completed, Kubrick never spoke to, nor contacted him again.

Fact 4: Known for his meticulousness, Kubrick was not only known for huge number of takes in his movies, but also for his hugely demanding and often lengthy shooting schedules. 'Eyes Wide Shut' subsequently broke the Guinness Record for the 'Longest Constant Movie Shoot', which stands at a whopping 400 days.

Fact 5: His latter years saw him become a recluse, so the press made up sensational stories about him. One report claimed that Kubrick shot a fan for trespassing on his lawn.

Fact 6: Seven out of his last nine movies were Oscar-nominated. Despite four consecutive nominations for Best Director ('Dr. Strangelove'; '2001: A Space Odyssey'; 'A Clockwork Orange'; 'Barry Lyndon'), he never won. This is commonly regarded as one of the biggest Oscar injustices.

Fact 7: During the making of 'The Shining', Kubrick would regularly phone original author Stephen King up at 3am asking questions like, "Do you believe in God?" After deviating from King's original ideas significantly, the pair never saw eye-to-eye; King didn't approve in casting of Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson, but Kubrick didn't care. In fact, in the scene where Hallorann drives to the Overlook Hotel during the blizzard, a red VW Beatle can be seen crushed under a lorry; the same Beatle King uses in the novel, which served as the Torrance family's car. A subtle 'screw you' from Mr. Kubrick.

Fact 8: Originally, 'Barry Lyndon' was scheduled to be filmed in Ireland. However, after learning he was on the IRA hit list for his desire to film English soldiers on Irish soil, Kubrick opted to move the production to England.

Fact 9: After struggling with the now infamous 'Singin' in the Rain' scene in 'A Clockwork Orange' -- Kubrick deemed the scene too conventional -- he asked for McDowell's input. He began spontaneously dancing, and 'Singin' in the Rain' was the only song he could recall the words to. Kubrick loved it, and proceeded to buy the rights to the tune for $10,000. Years later at a social gathering, McDowell was snubbed by Gene Kelly, who strongly disapproved of the use of his iconic song.

Fact 10: The snow used for the maze in the climactic scene of 'The Shining' was made from 900 tonnes of salt and Styrofoam. The snow was also used for the Hoth scenes in 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back', which was filmed in the same studio later that year.

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