Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking thriller Memento came out in 2000, and remains one of the smartest and most gripping movies we’ve seen to dart. It follows Leonard – an ex insurance claims investigator suffering from short term memory loss – who is hunting down his wife’s killer. All he has to go by are the clues he’s tattooed onto himself, and library of polaroid pictures. 

Memento: 10 Interesting Facts Worth Remembering 

1) The cinematographer Nolan wanted didn’t understand the script 

Nolan’s first choice for cinematographer was Peter Deming. Sadly for Nolan, Deming had just signed up to shoot Scream 3. Next, Nolan offered an interview to Mark Vargo, another cinematographer. Vargo refused, as he couldn’t make any sense of the script. 

2) Christopher Nolan recorded his own voice over part of Teddy’s line 

Teddy shouts, ‘you don’t have a clue, you freak!’ at Leonard at one point in the film. When he was watching it back during the editing stage, Christopher Nolan realised the words ‘you freak’ weren’t to his liking, so he recorded over Joe Pantoliano’s voice with his own for those two words. 

3) The film is based on a story by Christopher Nolan’s brother 

Christopher Nolan got the idea for the film from a story his brother, Jonathan Nolan, had written, which was called Memento Mori. This title translates to ‘remember that you must die.’ Christopher worked with his brother to adapt the story into a screenplay. 

4) The actor that played Sammy really had amnesia in the past 

In a flashback, we see Leonard visit Sammy Jankis – someone he’d investigated, who suffered from short term memory loss. Stephen Tobolowsky, who played Sammy, had taken an experimental painkiller when he went under surgery years before, which had induced amnesia. He told this to Nolan during his audition, and has since said this first-hand experience of amnesia probably helped bag him the role. 

5) Filming didn’t take long 

The filming for this movie was much quicker than on most films, and lasted less than a month. The cast and crew wrapped filming in just 25 days. 

6) Carrie Ann Moss got her old Matrix buddy a role

The villain of the movie, Teddy – a bent cop who uses Leonardo’s disability to his own murderous advantage – was brilliantly played by Joe Pantoliano. When it came to casting this role, it was Carrie Ann Moss who suggested the actor to Nolan. She had become friends with Pantoliano whilst working with him on the movie The Matrix. 

Coincidentally, it was after watching Carrie Ann Moss’ performance as Trinity in The Matrix that landed her the role in Memento. 

7) The tattoo parlour is named after Nolan’s wife 

The tattoo parlor that Leonard visits during the film to get permanent clues inked onto his skin is named after Christopher Nolan’s wife, Emma Thomas. She worked as associate producer on the film. 

8) Aaron Eckhart was considered for the role 

Several actors were considered for the part of Leonard, the film’s lead. Among them was Aaron Eckhart, Although he lost out on the role in Memento to Guy Pearce, Nolan cast him 8 years later as Harvey Dent / Two-Face in The Dark Knight

9) No budget for Radiohead 

A particular song by Radiohead was intended to play over the movie’s end credits – ‘Paranoid Android.’ However, Nolan eventually decided against using the song as it was a low budget movies, and the rights would cost too much. 

10) Teddy’s phone number is the same as Marla’s from Fight Club 

Teddy leaves Leonard his phone number, 555 0134. This is the same number that Marla gives to The Narrator in Fight Club, which came out a year earlier. 

There you have it – 10 pieces of Memento trivia worth remembering.

Memento trailer

Our favourite Memento quotes

Memento is full of great quotes. Here are some of our favourites…

I don’t think they’d let someone like me carry a gun.

Leonard

You know, I’ve had more rewarding friendships than this one. Although I do get to keep telling the same jokes.

Teddy

How am I supposed to heal if I can’t feel time?

Leonard

Someone has to pay, Lenny. Somebody always pays.

Teddy