Fascinating Facts about Misery the Movie

Stephen King's Misery, Misery The Movie, Movie Facts - Misery, Kathy Bates

"There's nothing to worry about. You're going to be just fine. I will take good care of you. I'm your number one fan."

Ten Fascinating facts about the movie adaptation of Stephen King's Misery.

Based on the 1987 Stephen King Novel Misery, the movie version of Misery starred Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes, the number one fan of author Paul Sheldon, who was played by James Caan. Made in 1990, Misery tells of how Annie finds and takes care of Sheldon after he has had a car accident. Until, that is, she finds out that the author is about to kill off her favourite character Misery Chastain in his latest book, and then things begin to turn very nasty. 

Misery is a suspense film with plenty of shocks as well as lots of brooding menace and Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her brilliant portrayal of the deranged Annie Wilkes. Here are ten facts about Misery the movie that you may not have known.

1. Bette Midler thought Misery was too violent for her

Bette Midler was offered the part of Annie Wilkes, but she turned it down because she thought the film was too violent.  She later called her decision “stupid”.

Stephen King's Misery, Misery The Movie, Movie Facts - Misery, Kathy Bates, James Cann2. Misery was about addiction

Stephen King said in an interview that Annie Wilkes as a metaphor for the drug addiction that he was battling with at the time he wrote the novel. He said that Annie Wilkes was like drugs had been to him; they were his number one fan and they wouldn’t let him go.

3. Caan and Bates disagreed over acting methods

James Caan and Kathy Bates had very different ways of approaching acting and that caused some big disagreements during the shooting of Misery. Caan likes to approach a role with little rehearsal, whereas Bates prefers to practice a lot before a shoot. When Bates complained about this to director Rob Reiner, Reiner told Bates to use her frustration in her characterisation of Annie Wilkes.

Stephen King's Misery, Misery The Movie, Movie Facts - Misery, James Caan4. James Caan didn’t like staying in bed

The role of Paul Sheldon called for a lot of lying in bed, and that is something that James Caan was not too keen on doing. He spent most of the 15 weeks of shooting lying in a bed and he said that Rob Reiner was playing a sadistic joke on him, because Reiner knew that Caan would hate it.

5. Director Rob Reiner studied Hitchcock movies to prepare himself for Misery

If you thought that Misery had a bit of a Hitchcock feel to it, you’d have been right. To prepare himself for making a thriller movie, Rob Reiner studied every film that Alfred Hitchcock had ever made.

6. Kathy Bates really got into the role of Annie Wilkes

Kathy Bates took the role of Annie Wilkes very seriously indeed and she even began to distance herself from other people during the filming of Misery. At one point, Rob Reiner had to take Kathy Bates to one side and tell her to leave Annie Wilkes on the set when filming for the day had finished.

7. James Caan was not the first choice to play Paul Sheldon

James Caan was well down on the list of preferred actors for the role of Paul Sheldon in the movie version of Stephen King’s Misery. Before Caan was offered the role, it had been offered and turned down by Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Douglas and Gene Hackman, to name but a few.

8. What happened to the chopping off of the foot?

In Stephen King’s novel Misery, Annie Wilkes chops off one of Paul Sheldon’s feet with an axe. But in the Misery movie she breaks his ankles with a hammer. There was a lot of debate about whether or not to do the chopping scene and, ultimately, it was decided that chopping off a foot would be too much for mainstream cinema audiences to take. The ankle breaking scene of Misery is still pretty harrowing though; check it out in the clip below of you dare.

9. Kathy Bates thought the axe scene should have stayed

At the time the “axe or hammer” debate was raging, Kathy bates thought that the axe scene should be as it was in Misery the novel.  However, when it came to the shooting of the ankles breaking scene, she became very upset about the violence,

10. James Caan’s hangover cost a day of shooting

James Caan turned up for work one day on the Misery movie set with a raging hangover. All the scenes that were shot that day were couldn’t be used, so Caan offered to pay the studio for the cost of re-shooting all the scenes.

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