Oscars: 5 things you didn't know about La La Land
Fascinating facts about the charming hit movie
The Oscars are right around the corner, and to mark the occasion, we've gathered five fascinating facts about each of this year's Academy Award best picture nominees.
Here they are for Damien Chazelle's La La Land, which has a record-tying number of Oscar nominations — 14 in all — including best picture, best supporting actor, best original screenplay and best film editing.
1. In the original script, lead character Sebastian (Canadian Ryan Gosling) was younger and the world hadn't got the better of him yet. But when Gosling, who was substantially older, came on board, it didn't make sense. "We changed him to being someone who had been beaten down and experienced a lot of failure, and maybe was once an optimist but now had become pretty cynical and really on the verge of become a bitter person," explains Gosling. "But the finger of fate intervenes."
2. Chazelle also wrote and directed the drum-heavy film Whiplash — but it was long before that he came up with the idea for La La Land. He was a student at Harvard, and for his senior thesis, he and classmate Justin Hurwitz (the composer on Whiplash and La La Land) created a low-budget musical about a Boston jazz musician called Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench.
3. Test screenings of the film did not go well — so much so that director Chazelle was sure he had a flop on his hands. When the film debuted at the Venice Film Festival, he kept his eyes shut for much of the picture. "I had this feeling like, 'Oh my God, this is tanking,'" he said in an interview. "I was just a dazed, terrified mess." (It got a standing ovation.)
4. La La Land is tied for the most Oscar nominations ever received: 14. The only other films to achieve the same feat are 1997's Titanic and 1950's All About Eve.
5. For the film, Gosling learned jazz piano and both he and co-star Emma Stone had to learn to sing and dance for the film's six original tunes. So Chazelle rented an L.A. warehouse, and for three months, Gosling practiced piano in one room while Stone worked with choreographer Mandy Moore in another. To inspire the cast, he also held Friday-night screenings of films that inspired La La Land, including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Singin' in the Rain, Top Hat and Boogie Nights.
Read fascinating facts about the other best picture nominees here:
— Jennifer Van Evra, q digital staff