Vanilla Sky is a science fiction thriller which was produced in 2001. It is an English adaptation of the Spanish film Open Your Eyes. It has a strong cast, including Penélope Cruz, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, and Kurt Russel. The movie is a peculiar mixture of romance, fiction and reality warp – and as an artsy, philosophical work, it attracted both criticism and acclaim. It remains one of those movies viewers should watch more than once, just to dig deeper into its subtler meanings. Here are just 10 things viewers don’t know about Vanilla Sky:
10 Double Up
In an interesting turn of events, Vanilla Sky included two of the surname ‘Cruz’ (or Cruise), and two of the name ‘Cameron’, in its cast ensemble. This didn’t go unnoticed by the team, who were directed to refer to Cameron Diaz as CD, so that when her name was called, no-one confused her with director Cameron Crowe. It’s those little things that can make filming just that much trickier. Having two Cruises on set with the talent of Tom and Penélope must have also added to the fun.
9 A Stickler For Details
It would seem that the director of the movie, Cameron Crowe, is a bit of a stickler for detail. It could be expected that someone who puts this kind of work into a film, writing, co-producing and directing a film, would be aware of what has gone into the production. Still... According to his own admission, there are 428 references to pop culture in Vanilla Sky. Actually, 429 if you include in your counting one that was made in error. He was counting?
8 A Signature Move
The production teams behind movies are often sneaky in the way they sneak hidden detail into the narrative of movies, or add details which are ‘signatures’ that they were there. In the script, everyone is gathered at David's birthday party, when someone comments, referring to a guitar, ‘Danny Bramson gave it to him for his birthday last year’. This seems an innocuous comment, however, Danny Bramson was the music supervisor for the movie.
7 Open your eyes
Arty, thought-provoking movies like Vanilla Sky are filled with little significant moments which are missed by the general public. One of these moments in the movie is at its opening when the Spanish words, 'Abre los ojos' are whispered. They are so poetic and sound so beautiful, English fans might not mind that they can't understand a word. But they have a deeper meaning: 'Open your eyes'. This is the title of the Spanish movie on which the movie is based, and it is also a profound statement echoing something of the movie's theme.
6 It's all about timing
No special effects were used when Tom Cruise took to Times Square alone. Viewers might have been curious as to how the production team got this one right, since Times Square is often chaotically busy.
What happened was that Times Square was closed off to the public for a full day, for the shooting of the scene of Tom Cruise alone in the square. This allowed for a relatively uncompromised set, and full attention to be given to Cruise and his undertakings.
5 Remembering fallen heroes
The World Trade Centre buildings can be seen in certain scenes of the production. This was because the shooting was done pre-9/11. No-one could have anticipated the tragic events which would unfold after the scenes were shot, or that two colossal buildings would no longer stand after the movie's release.
There was pressure on director Cameron Crowe to do special editing to remove the buildings from the scenes in which they feature in the movie. However, he refused and they can still be seen, in all their glory, in the Vanilla Sky skyline.
4 A bold move
Actors and actresses often read through scripts before accepting roles. However, Kurt Russel jumped straight into agreeing for his role in Vanilla Sky, before he had even read the script for the show. This is a bold move for an actor, and it would seem that for actor Kurt Russel, it was a good decision.
Still, it is recommended reading through the script before signing any contracts - something to do with professionalism and career management. One has to love Kurt Russel though for his enthusiasm.
3 First to hear the news
The cast and crew of Vanilla Sky were probably the first to hear about Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's decision to divorce. Tom sat them down and announced the news to them a full day before it was released to the public. The news was given during the filming of the movie. It's hard to imagine all of this going on in the actor's life while the filming was underway. Still, he managed to pull off a convincing performance.
2 Number 9
There are numerous times in the narrative when the number 9 is displayed. One of these is on David's watch, when the number 9:09 is shown. Another time, 9:09 is shown on the chalkboard.
The number 9 is also shown on the shirt of a child. Director Cameron Crowe explained this was a deliberate tribute to the Beatles. Specifically their song Revolution #9.
1 A song with a story
The song 'I fall Apart' in the movie, is attributed to Julianna Gianni, Cameron Diaz's character. It is also performed by the talented actress, and went on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Viewers might not know that the music and lyrics were written by Cameron Crowe and wife, Nancy Wilson. Diaz described sitting before Wilson to sing the song in studio and being overwhelmed by who she called, her childhood role model. She said she couldn't believe the whole thing was actually happening! Unlike the song's title, it would seem things were falling into place, and not falling apart for Diaz.