20 Things You Might Not Have Realised About Indecent Proposal

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How much are you worth? That’s the question posed by the 1993 film Indecent Proposal, which sees a married couple’s life fall into turmoil when a stranger offers them one million dollars for the wife to spend the night with him. Directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Robert Redford, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson, Indecent Proposal is one of the most divisive films of the 1990s. Below are 20 things you might not have realised about this controversial classic.


20. Halle Berry was interested in the movie, but the producers rejected her for the “racial undertone” they thought she’d bring

According to Halle Berry, she was interested in Indecent Proposal, and was hoping to be cast as Diana.

However, unfortunately for the actress, she was denied even an audition, with the studio citing that they were “afraid of adding an unnecessary racial undertone to the plot”.

The actress claimed that she was told that a black actor would not be cast in the role, regardless of talent.

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This was because they didn’t want the NAACP to complain about a black character having sex for money.

Julia Roberts and Lisa Stanfield were also in the running for the role, but ultimately the part went to Moore.

 

Although we can’t imagine anyone other than Moore in the role, it has to be said that Berry would certainly have given her a run for her money.

19. The film made the diverse characters in the novel all white

Indecent Proposal is based on the novel of the same name by author Jack Engelhard.

The film makes a number of changes to the story contained within the novel, where the main character was Jewish and the billionaire was Arabic.

Whilst the movie does follow the plot of “a million dollars for one night with a man’s wife”, most of the book focuses on Arab-Israeli intrigue.

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The New York Times described the themes of the novel as “the sanctity of marriage versus the love of money, the Jew versus significant non-Jews such as shiksas and sheiks.”

It continued: “skill versus luck, materialism versus spirituality, Israel versus the Arab countries, the past versus the future, and the religious world versus the secular one.”

 

Although the film does address these themes, its exploration of them is far less thorough.

18. Johnny Depp was approached to play David

Prior to Harrelson landing the role of David, several other actors were considered for the part.

Johnny Depp was approached to play the part, but unfortunately turned it down due to other commitments.

After appearing in the TV series 21 Jump Street, Depp felt that he had been somewhat pigeonholed into the role.

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After this experience, Depp made it his mission to only accept roles he felt were right for him.

To this day Depp remains notoriously picky when it comes to accepting projects.

 

Following his performance in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990), Depp took a two year hiatus, bar a brief cameo in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991).

17.  Warren Beatty was approached to play John Gage

Robert Redford was not first in line for the role of John Gage, and several other actors were considered to the role.

Lyne initially wanted Cruise and Kidman in the lead roles, with Beatty playing the amorous billionaire, John Gage.

Much like Depp, Beatty is notorious for being selective over his roles, having appeared in just four roles throughout the 90s.

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However, Beatty’s projects are usually highly successful, and he is heavily involved with the filming and editing process.

Credit: John Mathew Smith via Flickr

After the flop of Town and Country (2000), Beatty took a 15-year hiatus from acting and directing.

 

He made his comeback in 2016 when he directed and starred as Howard Hughes in romantic comedy-drama Rules Don’t Apply.

16. It was originally set to star Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman

The film was originally planned as a vehicle for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were of course a real-life couple at the time.

Cruise was set to play the role of David, with Kidman starring as his wife, Diana.

Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

In an interview with the Sun Sentinel, Lyne explained that Cruise had been angling for a part in the film.

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However, Lyne wasn’t quite so keen on Kidman playing Diana, saying “I tested Nicole Kidman later.”

Credit: Georges Biard via Wikimedia Commons

She continued: “She was good, but it didn’t work out. Demi was better.”

 

“I’ve seen Demi for every movie I’ve done, and I’ve watched her change. She’s lovely to watch in a tactile way.”

15.  Woody Harrelson was sued after he agreed to star in the film

In order to star in Indecent Proposal, Woody Harrelson had to walk away from Benny & Joon.

But unfortunately for Harrelson, he’d already signed a contract to appear in Benny & Joon – meaning it wasn’t as simple as quitting.

MGM sued him for breaking his contract, a case which was settled by Paramount Pictures after they paid out half a million dollars.

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Indecent Proposal was Harrelson’s third major film role after starting his movie career following his long-running appearance on Cheers.

At the time of filming for Indecent Proposal, Harrelson had just ended his contract with the show. 

 

Harrelson had joined the cast of Cheers in 1985, and his character Woody Boyd became a much-loved character on the series. 

14. Adrian Lyne and Demi Moore often argued during the shoot

It was reported that director Adrian Lyne and Demi Moore were often arguing during the shoot, with Harrelson attempting to mediate between the two.

According to cast members, Lyne wanted Moore to show more “vulnerability” in her performance.

Moore in turn defended herself, arguing that she was, in fact, “showing vulnerability”.

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However, after editing the film, Lyne realised Moore had actually been giving him the performance he wanted all along.

Lyne also demanded that Moore gain weight for the role, resulting in a bitter argument between the two (which Moore ultimately won.)

 

Lyne subsequently managed to swallow his pride and apologise to the actress for his behaviour. However, it was perhaps a case of too little, too late.

13. Robert Redford kept missing his cue during the auction scene because of Billy Connolly

On set reports revealed that Robert Redford kept missing his cue to leave the room during the auction scene.

This was reportedly because he was too busy listening to the jokes made by the auctioneer, who was played by Billy Connolly.

Luckily, it seems the director was pretty taken with Redford, and managed to overlook his slip-ups.

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On the DVD commentary for the film, director Adrian Lyne is effusive in his praise of the star.

According to Lyne, Redford “walks better than anybody on Earth” and he “couldn’t quite get over the fact he was working with him.”

 

It’s unlikely that Lyne would have been quite so lenient if it was Moore who was missing her cues.

12. Woody Harrelson felt uncomfortable filming his sex scenes with Demi Moore because of his friendship with Bruce Willis

Woody Harrelson has said that he felt uncomfortable filming his sex scenes with Demi Moore – and he had good reason.

It was all because Harrelson was good friends with Moore’s husband at the time, Bruce Willis.

Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

However, Moore and Harrelson managed to pull off the scene. In Moore’s memoir she wrote: “When I saw what Adrian had pulled off in the end, I thought it was beautiful.”

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Willis and Moore were married for 13 years, and had three children together, including Rumer Willis who is also an actress.

Credit: David Shankbone via Flickr

It seems there were no grudges between Willis and Moore after their split, and the pair remained close friends.

 

In fact, Willis even attended Moore’s wedding ceremony to Ashton Kutcher, who was 15 years her junior.

11. Robert Redford’s body double was also an adult movie star

If you looked very closely during his sex scenes, then you may have spotted that Robert Redford had a body double.

This is the (in)famous adult movie star, Randy West, who enjoyed a long and successful career in the industry.

Credit: Luke Ford via Wikimedia Commons

West originally started out working as a nude art model before moving on to appearing in adult films.

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His appearance in Indecent Proposal was one of West’s most prominent roles, and was very different to the kinds of films he usually appeared in.

Credit: CrazyJ via Wikimedia Commons

Whilst Redford may have been shy when it came to stripping off for the role, he hadn’t been quite so bashful in other performances.

 

In Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970) the actor took his kit off, though his crown jewels remained well hidden.

10. A remake is currently in development

In 2018, Paramount Players announced that a remake of the film was development, and if you’re anything like us then you can’t wait to see it!

The screenplay for the remake has been written by Erin Cressida Wilson, who wrote, among other things, the film adaptation of The Girl on the Train.

Credit: John Mackenzie via Wikimedia Commons

At the time of its release in 1993, the original was criticised for depicting women as objects.

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Considering the backlash against the original film’s sexual impropriety, we can only assume the remake will have been written in line with today’s #metoo society.

It could also be said that the storyline surrounding the sexual practices of powerful businessmen is highly relevant considering current events.

 

No cast or director has been lined up for the project as of yet, but we can’t wait to see what’s in store!

9. Demi Moore hated the script at first

According to Moore, when she first read the script for Indecent Proposal, she felt her “heart sink”, largely due to the amount of sex scenes her role would entail.

However, Moore saw behind the film’s seedy facade, and explained that she thought it was a “great story”.

According to Moore, she made a deal with Lyne, saying “he would be free to shoot the sex scenes however he wanted.”

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“But in the end I could review the footage and if there was anything I felt was too invasive or gratuitous, he would cut it”.

Moore explained that she started to extensively prepare for the role, even losing several pounds as a result of intense exercise.

 

However, Moore revealed in her memoir that when she went to meet with Lyne, he commented that she had “lost a lot of weight.”

8. The director didn’t want to cast Harrelson

There were a vast array of actors all vying for the role of David Murphy, with some very prominent names among them.

Val Kilmer was first inline, and the director was keen to have him on board. Sadly, this partnership did not work out.

Charlie Sheen and John Cusack were also in the running, but both ultimately turned down the role.

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When the idea of casting Harrelson was proposed to the director, Lyne, he initially disliked the idea.

However, after seeing the actor’s performance in White Men Can’t Jump (1992), he soon came around and cast Harrelson in the role.

 

Ultimately, however, Harrelson went on to win the 1994 Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor for his performance in the film.

7. Demi Moore actually cried during the “girl that got away” scene

According to Moore, the tears you can see during the “girl that got away” scene are not just the result of extraordinary acting skills.

Moore actually cried during this scene, which consisted of Gage describing a past chance meeting with a beautiful girl.

This was largely due to the fact that Moore had not been given a full script, and was therefore unaware of Redford’s lines.

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Instead, she was told “just to listen”, which helped aid her genuine reaction.

Lyne’s direction here paid dividends and Moore’s authentic reaction made for a moving performance.

 

Although some of the film’s content is questionable, it is full of touching moments such as this.

6. The director used his personal trademarks

Most directors have their own unique trademark, and it seems Lyne is no exception.

Lyne has a habit of incorporating water into dramatic scenes to heighten the effect.

He used this technique when David confronts Diana about having sex with John. In this scene, Diana can be seen at the sink, washing up.

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Lyne also tends to film characters with a light source coming in from the side at eye level.

This often causes a silhouette effect, adding to the character’s intrigue.

 

As well as adding to the film’s excellent cinematography, these were also notable trademarks of Lyne’s.

5. Demi Moore finally got the chance to work with Lyne

Moore had been vying to work with esteemed director Lyne for several years, but unfortunately to no avail.

She had auditioned for the lead roles in two of his movies; Foxes (1980) and Flashdance (1983).

However, Moore was unsuccessful in her pursuit, and was therefore elated when she learned she would finally get the chance to work with Lyne on Indecent Proposal.

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Moore went on to clash with Lyne during shooting, but was ultimately pleased with the way the film turned out.

The lead role in Foxes ended up going to Jodie Foster, and the film received largely positive reviews.

 

Jennifer Beals ended up landing the lead part in Flashdance, perhaps one of Lyne’s most iconic films.

4. It was nominated for seven Razzie Awards

Awards are generally a good thing, but when it comes to the Razzies, the opposite is true.

Indecent Proposal was nominated for seven Razzie Awards, much to the cast and crew’s dismay.

Robert Redford was nominated for the prestigious title of Worst Actor, whilst Moore was up for the Worst Actress award.

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It was also up for Worst Director and Worst Original Song for In All the Right Places.

Woody Harrelson ended up landing the title of Worst Supporting Actor, and the film won in the Worst Screenplay and Worst Picture categories.

 

The film is also listed in John Wilson’s book The Official Razzie Movie Guide, in which he compiled a list of the top 100 worst movies ever made.

3. The screenwriter wanted Jason Alexander as Diana and David’s lawyer

According to screenwriter Amy Holden Jones, she initially wanted the role of the lawyer to go to Jason Alexander.

She put forward the suggestion, which was swiftly rebuffed by the director, Lyne.

Oliver Platt was cast in the role instead, although the character was only relatively minor.

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Alexander is, of course, best known for his role as George Constanza in popular sitcom Seinfeld.

Alexander’s movie experience is relatively limited, with his most prominent role perhaps being the lawyer in Pretty Woman.

 

Alexander also played Mauricio in 2001 American fantasy romantic comedy Shallow Hal.

2. It was a commercial success despite being panned by critics

Indecent Proposal was panned by most of the critics that reviewed it, with Rotten Tomatoes today still rating it at just 34%.

The site’s consensus read that the film “has difficulty keeping it up beyond its initial titillating premise.”

But despite the negativity, Indecent Proposal was a big box office success, making over $250 million worldwide from a budget of just $40 million.

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Some critics were not quite so negative in their appraisal, with Roger Ebert giving it a ‘thumbs up” and writing a positive review.

Others argued that the film was anti-feminist and portrayed women in a bad light.

 

1. Some feminists felt the film was sexist

The film was received negatively by critics, with many arguing that the plot and characters were sexist.

Susan Faludi, a feminist writer, argued that the film’s positioning of the female character was troubling.

Much of this perceived sexism is rooted in the idea that Moore’s character, Diana, is used as just a vehicle to alleviate her husband’s financial strain.

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It seems Lyne is prone to directing films that leave somewhat of a nasty taste in one’s mouth…

He is also the man behind films such as Fatal Attraction, 9 1/2 weeks and Unfaithful.