Michael Douglas is a man on the edge in this 1993 thriller from Joel Schumacher. Our very favourite film by Schumacher, and perhaps one of our favourite films of all time, Falling Down focuses on William Foster – a man on the edge, who abandons his car in a traffic jam, and starts off on foot across the city, to make it to his daughter’s birthday party.
If only everyone had stayed out of his way, things might have been alright. But instead, in an increasingly violent downslide, he crosses horns with Latino gangsters, Neo Nazis, Korean shop owners, ignorant golfers, and he even shoots up a Whammy Burger for refusing to serve him breakfast at 3 minutes past the cut off.
Robert Duvall plays Sergeant Predenghast – a cop on his last day before retirement, who decides to leave his desk station to pursue Foster.
Here are 10 things you might not have known about Falling Down…
1) Filming was stopped by the LA riots
The crew was filming the movie in Los Angeles in 1992, during the court case surrounding Rodney King, who had been violently beaten by four police officers. When the verdict broke that the four officers were to be acquitted, major unrest erupted across the city. The rioting got so bad that the crew had to temporarily cease filming on the streets, and moved production into the Warner Brothers studio.
2) South Koreans boycotted the film’s release
A scene early on in the film sees Bill Foster go into a grocery store to break change for a dollar so he can use the phone box outside. After bartering with the Korean shopkeeper, the shopkeeper takes out a baseball bat, which Bill promptly grabs, wrestles the Korean to the floor, and smashes up the store, claiming he’s ‘rolling back prices to 1965.’ South Koreans were so outraged by the scene that they boycotted its release in South Korea, and were successful – its release was cancelled.
3) The haircut was chosen to make Douglas look like he was not in the right time
Suggested by Joel Schumacher’s hairdresser, Michael Douglas’ character sports a 50’s military-style crew cut. This deliberately made William Foster look like he was from a different time. A lot of the film is about Foster being angered by the ways of the modern world. From inflated prices in shops, through to roadworks existing purely to justify budgets, through to plastic surgeons being able to afford enormous mansions with pools. The haircut helps to paint Foster as a man of 1950’s principles being dropped into a world that alienates and enrages him.
4) Catwoman’s little sister appears in the film
Sheila, the cheeky sales assistant working in Whammy Burger, is full of attitude and sass during her time on screen with Bill Foster, and adds some real humour to the restaurant scene. So you might not be surprised to know that the actress has some Hollywood gold in her blood! She’s the younger sister of Michelle Pfieffer, who had just played Catwoman the year before.
5) Michael Douglas considers Falling Down his best work
Michael Douglas has starred in and produced hundreds of films throughout his career. He’s widely acclaimed for films such as Wall Street, so you might think a film like that might be number one on his list of films he’s been involved with. But you’d be wrong. Falling Down takes the top spot. He has stated that out of all of the films he’s had a hand in, Falling Down is the one he loves the most. And he’s not the only one. His dad, treasured actor Kirk Douglas, agrees with him.
6) A huge list of famous actors were unavailable for the lead role
Although it’s hard to imagine anybody apart from Michael Douglas playing the unstable Bill Foster, some of the biggest names in Hollywood were approached for the role. All of them were either unavailable, or plainly turned the role down. The list includes Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges and Mel Gibson.
7) The music video to Walk by Foo Fighters is a homage to Falling Down
If you’re a fan of the Foo Fighters, you’ve probably seen the video for the 2011 song Walk. But unless you’ve seen Falling Down, you might not have realised that it’s a complete homage for the movie. Dave Grohl is dressed as Bill Foster, and acts out most of the scenes from the film. He starts off by abandoning his car in a traffic jam, attacks a shopkeeper, is unable to make a call in a phone box, is disappointed by a burger in a fast food restaurant, fights off a couple of hoodlums, and ends up causing havoc on a golf course.
8) A famous actor almost directed the film
Before Joel Schumacher took his place in the director’s chair, someone very different was in talks to direct Falling Down; much-loved actor Dennis Hopper. Although most famous for his roles in Easy Rider, Blue Velvet and Speed, he has had directing experience – and in fact directed the 1969 biker flick Easy Rider. But Schumacher bagged the gig instead, and did an incredible job.
9) Michael Douglas took a pay cut to ensure the film got made
The film had huge difficulties getting picked up by a major studio – possibly due to some of its delicate content. At one point, it was even considered to turn the script into a straight-to-cable TV movie. However, once Michael Douglas got involved, his clout helped to get the film the backing it needed. It was given a bigger budget and, to ensure production could go ahead, Douglas even accepted a pay cut.