Jump to: Spoilers (11)
To make himself look like an average out of shape middle aged man Tom Hanks didn't exercise and allowed himself to grow pudgy. Production was then halted for a year so he could lose fifty pounds and grow out his hair for his time spent on the deserted island. During this hiatus, Robert Zemeckis used the same crew to film What Lies Beneath (2000).
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Actual lines of dialogue were written for Wilson the volleyball, to help Tom Hanks have a more natural interaction with the inanimate object.
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Job applications for FedEx went up by 30% after the release of this film.
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Tom Hanks said he first got the idea for the film after reading an article about FedEx. "I realized that Boeing 747s filled with packages fly across the Pacific three times a day. What happens if one of those goes down?," he said. He took that idea and combined it with his interest in how to survive without the five required elements for living - food, water, shelter, fire, and companionship.
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Contrary to popular belief, FedEx did not pay the filmmakers anything for their presence in the movie. Robert Zemeckis has made it clear in several interviews. While FedEx was very concerned when they heard about the project, they had no objections to the finished script and offered support during filming. The company later said the movie was very good for FedEx, particularly in overseas markets.
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Some crew members were left on the island for a few days to survive and learn some skills. They used some of their survival techniques in the movie for the character of Chuck. They were: having trouble lighting a fire, opening a coconut, talking to a volleyball, collecting packages washed up on the beach, and catching fish.
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Most of the nighttime scenes on the island (except the creation of fire scene) were shot during the daytime. The darkness and night sky effects were added in post-production.
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One of the three volleyballs used in the film was sold in an auction for $18,400 (USD).
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The blonde hair and facial hair on Tom Hanks was actually real.
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Virtually all the sound, including dialogue, in the scenes on the island (about an hour and a half of screen time) had to be replaced in post-production. Sound man William B. Kaplan made a valiant attempt at getting usable sound on the island, but the nearby surf made it impossible since many of the scenes needed to be very quiet.
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Tom Hanks said that the hardest part of losing so much weight was not eating any French fries for a long time, and the thing that helped him the most in this process was drinking a great deal of coffee every morning.
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The scene in which Noland is talking with Stan by the fireplace of Stan's home was shot in one continuous take with the camera rotating slowly around Noland. The shot lasts 3 minutes and 46 seconds.
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The production employed several local Fiji islanders in the surrounding archipelago, including the neighboring Mana Island about a mile away. The locals were allowed to keep some of the supplies and tools as tokens of their help.
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Almost fifteen years after the film's release, Tom Hanks jokingly "reunited" with Wilson the volleyball at a New York Rangers hockey game.
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The flight number of the crashed aircraft, FedEx 88, at the time of filming was a real flight number. It operated from Memphis to Penang, Malaysia with stops in between.
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Some of the 'desert island' footage was shot on the mainland, with a highway in the background that had to be removed digitally in post-production.
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Chuck Noland's name can be abbreviated as 'C. Noland' or "see no land" which is clearly fitting given the circumstances or plot of the movie.
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Tom Hanks said one of the reasons he wanted to make the film was to reinvent the "stuck on a desert island" concept. He felt that up to that point, most people's association of the idea was limited to either "Robinson Crusoe" or Gilligan's Island (1964) and that there was room for a new take, one rooted in the modern day. And there was also room in this film for a rueful line Hanks delivers about some things Gilligan never told us about surviving on an island.
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The handwriting on the birthday card that Chuck reads on the island is that of director Robert Zemeckis.
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An early draft of the script had Chuck having two different personalities talking to each other, Good Chuck and Bad Chuck.
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The paper that Chuck writes his note to Bettina Peterson is stationery from "Arrington Ranch" (a cattle ranch resort) that is the actual house where Chuck leaves the letter.
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In the beginning of the movie, as the camera tilts down Chuck's fireplace, you can see the book "Sailing Alone Around the World" by Joshua Slocum.
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The song Chuck sings after successfully creating the fire is "Light My Fire" by The Doors.
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With Kelly having said that Chuck's island was 600 miles South of the Cook Islands, the location of the island is therefore around 1600 miles away from where most of the island scenes were filmed.
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Musical group Phish aired a video clip from the film during their New Year's Eve show at Madison Square Garden in 2002. Special guest Steve McConnell, who is the brother of Phish's keyboard player Page McConnell, pretended to be Tom Hanks. The next song the band played was the appropriately titled "Wilson." Many major news sites reported the appearance believing that it was Tom Hanks.
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A FedEx commercial during the 2003 Super Bowl telecast featured the final scene of the film where Chuck returns the package to its sender. In this version the woman answers the door; when Chuck asks what was in the box, the woman replies, "Just a satellite phone, GPS locator, fishing rod, water purifier, and some seeds. Just silly stuff."
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Robert Zemeckis had the idea of Chuck's blood forming the face of Wilson the volleyball, to make it seem like Wilson was 'born' from Chuck.
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On Inside the Actors Studio: Tom Hanks: 2 (2006), Tom Hanks was asked by James Lipton what he thought happened to Chuck after the film's ending. Hanks responded "He turned around. He went back and made babies with that lady".
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During a Q&A session at USC, Robert Zemeckis was asked what was in the unopened package. He replied that it was a waterproof, solar-powered satellite phone.
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Alan Silvestri wrote 24 minutes of score (including over seven minutes for the final credits) for a 143-minute film. Aside from the Russian chorus and the two Elvis Presley songs before the crash, there is not one single note of written musical score in the film until Noland leaves the island (1 hour and 43 minutes into the movie). Only then does the musical score come in: an oboe, piano and strings are all that Silvestri uses. Every musical cue is a variation on the same melody, which is heard in full at the end.
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The film's theatrical trailer controversially revealed Chuck's escape from the island and his reunion with Kelly. Robert Zemeckis's previous film What Lies Beneath (2000) was similarly criticized for revealing plot twists in the trailer. Zemeckis responded by saying "We know from studying the marketing of movies, people really want to know exactly every thing that they are going to see before they go see the movie. It's just one of those things. To me, being a movie lover and film student and a film scholar and a director, I don't. What I relate it to is McDonald's. The reason McDonald's is a tremendous success is that you don't have any surprises. You know exactly what it is going to taste like. Everybody knows the menu."
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When Bettina explains where each road leads at the intersection, she points toward the direction of her ranch and says "you'll find a whole lot of nothing all the way to Canada". Arrington Ranch, where they filmed the ranch scenes, is located in Canadian, Texas.
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The moment before Chuck removes his tooth in the cave, he tells Wilson his dentist in Memphis is called "Dr. James Spalding". In the German dub, the name is changed to "Dr. James Volley" because few Germans are familiar with the American label "Spalding". In the Hungarian version the dentist is called "Dr. James Speedo". His best friend on the island was Wilson the volleyball. Spalding and Wilson both make athletic equipment.
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In the original theatrical and VHS version of the film, after three years on the island Chuck is ready to give up and decides to hang himself. He is aware of the dead tree on the mountain peak, which is shown from below early in his time on the island, so he uses some old rope, fashions a dummy out of a log and hangs the log to see if the dead tree would support his weight. The branch snaps, leaving the log dummy hanging. One year later, as he is building the raft and is short of rope, he agrees with Wilson about where he can find the extra thirty feet, which is attached to the log dummy. This is missing from the subsequent cut of the film in which, without any explanation, Chuck pulls up the log dummy and harvests the rope.
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Near the end of the film when Chuck Noland is on the plane back to America after his rescue, two FedEx mugs are seen in the background. These two mugs are rearranged to spell the words Ex Fed, a nod to his leaving of the company.
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