Directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julia Roberts as a woman who attempts to escape her abusive husband, Sleeping with the Enemy is a psychological thriller that absolutely had us on the edge of our seats the first time we saw it.
Below are 10 things you might not have realised about this early 90s film that continued to prove Julia Roberts could do no wrong.
10. It’s based on a novel released just four years before the film
Sleeping with the Enemy is based on the 1987 novel of the same name by the author Nancy Price, which teased us with the synopsis ‘she is a stranger in a small town. She changed her name. Her looks. Her life. All to escape the most dangerous man she ever met. Her husband.’
The film was released in February 1991 in the US and two months later in the UK, which was only four years after the novel had originally hit bookshop shelves.
9. It could have starred Jane Fonda or Kim Basinger instead of Julia Roberts
Whilst we’re sure you can’t imagine anyone but the brilliant Julia Roberts headlining the film, a couple of other big name actresses were also considered for the lead role of Laura Burney.
The film’s writer Ronald Bass actually had Jane Fonda in mind when he wrote the screenplay, and reports at the time also suggested that Kim Basinger was offered the part but turned it down, believing she was not the right person for the role.
8. Julia Roberts called the South Carolina town where the film shot a “living hell”
Some of the film was shot on location in Abbeville, South Carolina, where residents were left stunned by comments made by Julia Roberts.
Upon leaving the area Roberts described it as “a living hell” and “horribly racist,” vowing that she would never again return there.
7. One of its most famous lines was ad-libbed
One of the film’s most famous and haunting lines was ad-libbed by Patrick Bergin, the actor playing Laura’s abusive husband Martin Burney.
“I can’t live without you and I won’t let you live without me” was not in Ronald Bass’ original script.
6. Laura’s new name refers to her difficult past
We’re sure you wouldn’t want to give any clues when changing your name to escape your abusive husband, but Laura Burney’s new name in Sleeping with the Enemy certainly contains nods to her difficult past.
The name Sarah actually means princess, which is what Laura’s abusive husband Martin sometimes called her. And of course her new surname, Waters, is a likely reference to the incident in which Laura nearly drowned after being swept into the sea from their neighbour’s boat.
5. Its first-weekend box office take was the highest ever for a film starring a woman
Upon its release in 1991, Sleeping with the Enemy had the best opening weekend of all time for a film with a female lead, with its $13 million take breaking the record that had been held by Alien for the previous 12 years.
Critics were not kind to the film, with Roger Ebert calling it “a slasher movie in disguise,” but its box office success still continued way past its opening weekend. The film went on to make $175 million across the globe from a budget of just $19 million.
4. Julia Roberts was the youngest ever actress to earn a seven-figure salary for a film
In addition to having the best opening weekend ever for a film with a female lead, Sleeping with the Enemy also broke another dollar-based record.
The film made Julia Roberts, who was just 22-years-old when the film was made, the youngest actress ever to earn a seven-figure salary for a single film.
3. It ended Home Alone’s box office domination
Sleeping with the Enemy was the film to finally end Home Alone’s domination at the top of the US box office.
Home Alone, which like Sleeping with the Enemy was a film distributed by 20th Century Fox, made nearly half a billion dollars, and was the highest-grossing live-action comedy of all time until The Hangover in 2011.
2. The film has been remade 14 times
Believe it or not, Sleeping with the Enemy has been remade a quite staggering 14 times over the last three decades, most often in India.
The only English language remake so far is ‘Til Death Us Do Part, a 2017 film that only made $1.5 million at the US box office.
1. Both the film and book have been an inspiration for many women
Both the Sleeping with the Enemy film and novel have been a source of inspiration for many women who have found themselves in abusive relationships, with a lady called Gemma’s Amazon review being one such example.
‘Eighteen years ago this book was – to me – the equivalent of a Bible,’ Gemma wrote in 2014. ‘I was pregnant and in an abusive marriage, and reading the story of Sara Gray gave me the strength to leave. It wasn’t easy but, like her, I lived to tell the tale.’