10 Things You Didn’t Know About Face/Off
When I think of directors who have made the biggest impact on action cinema over the last 25 years, my mind skips past names like James Cameron and Michael Bay and goes to the man who has made top notch films on two continents, John Woo.
From the moment Woo made the move from Hong Kong to the United States, he was destined to leave his mark on Hollywood. His films from Hong Kong had already been popular here in the States and his style had been ripped off by countless directors but Woo’s personal flavor could be imitated but never duplicated by anyone else. Woo would make his American directorial debut with Jean Claude Van Damme’s Hard Target. It was a match made in action movie heaven. Van Damme’s sweet ass round house kicks and John Woo’s obsessive over use of slow motion. But as much as I love Hard Target it has absolutely zero scenes with Nicolas Cage doing hard drugs and making crazy faces in a mirror. That’s pretty important to me so when Face/Off cornered the market on Nic Cage drug binges and face-swapping in 1997, I knew I had found a classic in the making. Whether you feel the same way as me or not, I think that I’ve found a few tidbits about the film that will help to enamor you with the film that finally had the balls to give us the sexual innuendo that peach enthusiasts have been dying to hear. This is 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Face/Off.
- The only notes that Paramount gave to John Woo were “make a John Woo movie”. That is a pretty incredible amount of faith to have in a director who had yet to make a high-grossing film in the US.
- Woo first got the script in 1993 but passed on it because he didn’t feel he could do the science fiction/CGI heavy scenes that had originally been in the script. A couple of years later, most of the science fiction stuff was out of the script and Woo finally felt like he could handle the film.
- The movie wasn’t meant for Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. At different stages of development Arnold and Sly were being courted. Johnny Depp and Nic Cage were rumored, and Alec Baldwin and Bruce Willis were also thought of.
- The first few minutes of the film were spent showing how different the two main characters were; one is an anal-retentive Federal agent and the other is a drug-using womanizer. Is it any wonder that fans were rooting for the lunatic?
- The filmmakers said that Travolta was really great on set. He knew everyone’s names and always joked with his cast mates and crew. Cage, on the other hand, was really method at the time and spent most of his time alone while trying to stay in character.
- The ear being made using the face/off technology with lasers ended up being the only real CGI used in the film. John Woo was hesitant about using too much CG and used practical effects whenever possible.
- The carousel scene from the beginning of the film was shot while Nic Cage was still doing Con Air and after seeing it Cage wrote Travolta and said that he was really excited about the level of acting that the two could bring to the film.
- The infamous scene where Cage and Travolta have their backs to one another next to the mirror was nixed from the film because of budget reasons but John Woo decided to pay for it himself as he thought it would look great. It looked so good on film that the studio forgot to charge Woo for it.
- The boat chase at the end of the film was shot first and shown to the studio. They were so excited by it that they gave the production more money.
- Paramount hated the “slash” in the title. The writer had to meet with the studio and defend the title by saying that people would think it was a movie about hockey without it.
Thanks for reading.