Spend more than a few minutes on social media today, and you’ll see evidence of how crazy fans can get. However, long before internet fandom was a big deal, we had evidence of how dangerously obsessive certain devotees of a media franchise can get. Take Annie Wilkes, the deranged nurse and fanatical reader of romantic novelist Paul Sheldon, whose obsession leads her to take the author hostage.
Directed by Rob Reiner and adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Misery was one of the most chilling movies of the 1990s – but did you know the following facts about the film?
10. It’s the only Stephen King adaptation to win an Academy Award
Even though Stephen King novels have been adapted into such classic films such as The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption, Misery still remains the only film based on one of King’s books to win an Academy Award.
It was Kathy Bates who picked up the Best Actress Oscar for her amazing performance as Paul Sheldon’s ‘number one fan’.
9. At least ten extremely well known Hollywood leading men turned the film down
The part of Paul Sheldon was originally earmarked for William Hurt, but he decided to turn it down. Warren Beatty was reportedly interested, but had to pull out due to his commitment to filming Dick Tracy, which had gone over schedule.
They weren’t the only ones: reports suggested that at other major Hollywood leading men to turn down the role included Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Robert Redford, William Hurt, Kevin Kline and Gene Hackman.
8. Bette Midler turned down the role of Annie
The first actress offered the role of Annie Wilkes was Bette Midler, who turned the part down on the grounds that the script was too violent. Later, Midler admitted she was “stupid” to pass on the project.
The film’s writer William Goldman suggested casting Kathy Bates, who was pretty much an unknown at the time.
7. The book is actually about Stephen King’s drug problems
Author Stephen King almost died after being hit by a car in real life, so most critics assumed that Misery (in which the male protagonist suffers life-threatening injuries in a car crash) is about this. However, King has revealed that Misery, and the character of Annie Wilkes in particular, is actually a metaphor for the drug addiction he struggled with in the late 80s.
“Annie was my drug problem, and she was my number one fan,” King has been quoted as saying. “God, she never wanted to leave.”
6. Kathy Bates found it difficult to switch off from playing Annie
The intense nature of her character in Misery meant that Kathy Bates initially found it difficult to switch off once shooting had wrapped at the end of each day.
In fact, director Rob Reiner noticed Bates becoming more isolated as filming progressed, so he did what he could to encourage her to leave her character behind when she wasn’t on set.
5. The shoot required James Caan to stay in bed for 15 weeks
Due to the nature of his character’s imprisonment, filming Misery meant that James Caan had to lie in bed for 15 weeks of the film’s shoot.
Caan has admitted that he found this extremely difficult, and at times thought that director Rob Reiner was even playing a joke on him.
4. In Stephen King’s book, Annie completely severs Sheldon’s foot
Surely the most infamous moment in Misery is the ‘hobbling’ scene, which is often listed among the scariest moments in film history. However, if filmmakers had stayed true to Stephen King’s original novel, it may have been even more horrific: in the book, Annie completely severs Sheldon’s foot with an axe.
Screenwriter William Goldman was keen to keep this in his script, but director Rob Reiner felt it was too severe, and insisted she break his ankles instead.
3. James Caan offered to reimburse the film studio after turning up to work hungover
On one day of the Misery shoot, James Caan turned up so hungover that all of his scenes from that day were unusable. Rob Reiner did not reveal this to Caan at the time, instead telling him they had to re-shoot scenes due to “a problem at the lab”.
When Caan eventually found out the true reason the footage was scrapped, he offered to reimburse the film studio for the lost day’s work.
2. Kathy Bates made another Stephen King movie five years later
Misery made Kathy Bates a big name, particularly after her Oscar win, and it guaranteed that the actress’s name would always be mentioned in the same breath as Stephen King. However, you might have forgotten that Misery isn’t the only King adaptation Bates has starred in.
In 1995, five years after Misery, Bates took the title role in Dolores Claiborne, another dark psychological thriller based on Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name.
1. There was a Misery stage play that starred Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf
25 years after Misery lit up the big screen, the story was taken to the Broadway stage in another adaptation from the film’s screenwriter William Goldman. This high-profile production starred Bruce Willis as Paul Sheldon and Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne, The Big Bang Theory, Toy Story) as Annie Wilkes.
This wasn’t the first stage production of Misery: a British adaptation was performed in London’s West End in 1992, whilst in 2014 a musical adaptation was produced in The Netherlands.