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Primal Fear (1996) Poster

(1996)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (8)
This is Edward Norton's motion picture debut.
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Edward Norton was among 2,100 actors who auditioned for the role of Aaron Stampler.
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According to the Blu-ray behind-the-scenes information, the ending exposition was running over six pages, and the writers realized that would take far too long. Richard Gere and Edward Norton began to improv with it, encouraged by the director and writer, and pared the scene down to less than two pages with a much crisper ending.
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Both Wil Wheaton and Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the part of Aaron Stampler. Wheaton turned down the role because he did not want to put off his acting school, and when his manager urged him to take the role anyway, he told him, "It is like Luke Skywalker when Yoda told him not to go and save his friends, but to stay on Dagobah and learn to be a Jedi instead. Luke didn't listen to him and that's why he never became a true Jedi master." Later, Wheaton regretted turning this role down, saying that this was a crucial factor why his career never got to be a successful one.
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According to the Blu-ray behind-the-scenes information, the original rough cut of the film ran for three hours and fifteen minutes, including more detailed exposition of Aaron's small-town country life and discussions with his former junior high school teacher. The scenes were cut partly for running time and partly to avoid the producers "tipping their hand" and alerting the audience to the ultimate ending.
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Leonardo DiCaprio was the producer's original choice for Aaron/Roy, but he ultimately turned it down.
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Alfre Woodard's role was originally written as a 60-year old White male.
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This film marked the feature directorial debut of Gregory Hoblit.
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Edward Furlong was considered for the role of Aaron Stampler. The role eventually went to Edward Norton who would co-star with Edward Furlong in American History X (1998) two years later.
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The exterior police station where Martin Vail goes to see Aaron Stampler is the same exterior police station used for the TV series Hill Street Blues (1981) , for which director Gregory Hoblit was producer and director and Joe Spano (Stenner) starred as Henry Goldblume.
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Matt Damon auditioned to play the role of Aaron Stampler.
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James Marsden was considered for the role of Aaron Stampler.
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The music, which became the theme to TNT's Southland (2009) television cop drama series, Canção Do Mar, by Frederico de Brito and Ferrer Trindade, performed by Dulce Pontes, can be briefly heard in this movie. Ann Biderman, the creator of that series, co-wrote this film.
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Both Richard Gere and Reg Rogers, the actor who plays the journalist Gere talks to throughout the movie, were in Runaway Bride (1999). In that film, Gere was the journalist and Rogers was the interview subject as one of the grooms left at the altar.
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Danny Masterson auditioned to play the role of Aaron Stampler.
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Both Maura Tierney and Laura Linney played the ex-wife and wife of Jim Carrey in Liar Liar (1997) and The Truman Show (1998), respectively.
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The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Frances McDormand; and three Oscar nominees: Edward Norton, Laura Linney, Alfre Woodard.
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Richard Gere also plays a self-centered, narcissistic lawyer who loves the limelight and uses questionable means to successfully represent guilty clients in Chicago (2002).
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James Van Der Beek was considered for the role of Aaron Stampler.
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Andre Braugher, who plays a Chicago Private Investigator in this film, played a New York cop four years later in Frequency (2000), which was also directed by Gregory Hoblit.
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This was one of four movies from Richard Gere with James Newton Howard music. The first was Pretty Woman (1990), the second was Intersection (1994), the third was this film, and last was Runaway Bride (1999).
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The part of Aaron Stampler was widely seen as a career making role and was pursued by many young actors. Matt Damon has said that he chased the role desperately, having previously missed out on a part in Dead Poet's Society. After being passed over yet again, he and Ben Affleck decided that the chances of another great part coming along, going through the ranks of known actors before being 'tossed to the wolves to fight over', were so low that they had to do something about it. The result was the script for Good Will Hunting which helped launch both their careers.
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Who played Michael O'Donnell in Primal Fear. The young blonde haired man sitting in the courtroom.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

According to the Blu-ray behind-the-scenes information, it was Edward Norton's idea to stutter as "Aaron," as it appeared nowhere in the original book or script. In addition, when "Roy" shoves Vail (Richard Gere) against the prison cell wall, Gere's shocked reaction is genuine, as that was another ad-lib by Norton. Another Norton ad-lib was Roy's slow clap at the end just before the exposition when Vail realized what had happened.
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According to the Blu-ray behind-the-scenes information, a second ending was considered during which Marty Vail would get Aaron/Roy back into court and justice would be done, vindicating him. The idea was scrapped in favor of the egotistical Vail getting outsmarted by what appeared to be a dim country hick.
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Edward Norton would go on to portray 'Jack'/Tyler Durden, another diabolical character that suffers from multiple personality disorder, in the cult classic Fight Club (1999).
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In the ending scene in the prison cell, you can see the letters "A" and "R" with an upside down triangle and cross separating the two letters scratched into the wall behind Aaron/Roy. These symbols could imply a connection between "Aaron," the arch-bishop, and "Roy."
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When Martin (Richard Gere) confronts Aaron (Edward Norton) and he first "transforms" into "Roy," "Roy" asks Martin for a cigarette. In real life, Edward Norton is a staunch non-smoker.
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Edward Norton has had other 2 characters with multipersonality disorder, one in Fight Club and the other in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
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In The Score (2001), Edward Norton played another character who pretends to be dim-witted in order to make it appear that he didn't commit a crime
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This film has a few similarities to The Fugitive (1993), for example, Chicago setting, James Newton Howard music and Joseph F. Kosala as a Chicago cop in that as well.
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