Twister: Seven things you never knew about the 1996 movie

Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in Twister. Photo / Getty
Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in Twister. Photo / Getty

Bill Paxton, who sadly passed away earlier this week, made many memorable films.

But for any kid who grew up in the 90s, when you think of Paxton's work, they think of Twister.

The storm-chasing movie had everything: cheesy lines, dodgy special effects and a flying cow.

We thought we'd take a look back at the 1996 movie that raked in almost $US500 million ($701,059,261.65 NZD) worldwide and was nominated for two Oscars:

Garth Brooke jealous of a twister?

In 2013, Garth Brooks's producing partner of 20 years slapped the country music star with a lawsuit claiming she'd missed out on producer fees for potential TV and movie projects for Brooks because he had "unreasonable demands".

In the lawsuit, Lisa Sanderson claimed that Steven Spielberg sent Brooks the script for Twister but: "Brooks also passed on that film, saying the star of the film was the tornado and Brooks wanted to be the star".

Injured stars

Both Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt were temporarily blinded by the bright lights used on the set of the movie.

"They had to pump light into the cab to get the exposure down, to make the sky behind us look dark, stormy," Paxton explained to Entertainment Weekly.

"Because it was too bright outside. And these things literally sunburnt our eyeballs. I got back to my room, I couldn't see."

The two stars were forced to wear special glasses for a few days and use eye drops to heal their eyes.

"You know how old people wear those shades after they get cataract operations?" Paxton said, "that was us".

Why they filmed in Oklahoma

When the production staff were scouting for filming locations, they stumbled the small town of Wakita and knew they'd hit the jackpot.

The town had been ravaged by a hailstorm in 1993 that had left most of the homes in ruins.

The Twister people needed a lot of debris for the film and offered to tear down the damaged homes.

It was a win-win.

"They even brought in debris," Wakita resident Mary Schmitz said to Tulsa World.

"They had a piano, and they dropped it on Main Street and it went everywhere and that was debris. They tore down a house in Ponca City and brought it over and laid it on the street because we didn't have enough debris for them."

And the few hundred residents of Wakita also got to feature in the film.

"They had a casting call in Wakita, so we could sign up to be extras and pretty much everybody did," another resident, Linda Wade said.

"And they called us and they fed us and they paid us (about $US100 / $140 NZD per day) and we could see the stars. It was a pretty good deal for us."

The sound of twisters

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound because the twisters sounded so goddamn realistic.

So how did they come up with the sound?

"To make new and different wind sounds, they constructed a box filled with chicken wire, stuck a microphone inside, and placed it on top of a car," author Keay Davidson revealed in his book, Twister: The Science of Tornadoes and the Making of a Natural Disaster Movie.

"Then they rolled the car downhill - turning the engine off so that it wouldn't interfere with the sound recording."

"They also reviewed recordings of camels and noted that these creatures emit sounds that are 'wet and lugubrious and nasty.'

As he [supervising sound editor, Stephen Hunter Flick] listened to the camel recordings over and over, Flick turned down the pitch, and the camels' sounds developed a moaning, 'cavernous' quality that, he felt, nicely captured the eerie vastness of a tornado."

Unpopular director

Director Jan De Bont, who had only directed Speed when he started working on Twister, wasn't the most popular man on set.

According to Entertainment Weekly, more than 20 crew members walked off the set after De Bont pushed a camera assistant into the mud after he got in the way of a complicated shot.

Referencing the incident, De Bont told EW: "With the wind machines it was very loud, so the crew had to watch my hand signals. I cued action, and he [walked] right in the middle of the scene. We kept losing good performances because of stupid things like that.

"I don't think I'm a hothead, but I do believe you have to be passionate. These crews get paid well, and when they screw up, I'm going to call them on it."

Oprah 'humiliated' the cast

Jami Gertz played Dr. Melissa Reeves, the reproductive therapist who was engaged to Bill "The Extreme" Harding.

In an interview with the A.V. Club, Gertz revealed that her most memorable moment from Twister is when the cast were invited to appear on Oprah to talk about the film.

"We came out individually, and we were talking about how tough it was to shoot," she said.

"We would get debris in our eyes from the wind machines and we'd have to use the eye wash. And sometimes when we were in the makeup trailer, we'd have to turn off the electricity, because we were close to an electrical storm and we didn't want to get electrocuted, and blah blah blah."

"Then she breaks for commercials, and then she comes back and says, 'And now for survivors of real twisters!'

So here are all these actors, these dopey actors on stage, and now we have these people who area like, 'I was burned, lightning hit me ...' And we're like, 'Uh, no, that didn't happen to us. Oooh.'

"It was just so humiliating. Here are these real survivors of twisters, and we're just the pretend movie version."

Bill Paxton wanted to make a sequel

Speaking to A.V. Club in 2012, the actor revealed he had a rough storyline in mind for a potential Twister follow-up.

"I'd love to direct a sequel to that movie," he said.

"I've always felt like there was a Jaws version of that movie. I always felt like we did the Pepsi Lite version of that movie. There's a tougher version of that movie that I think now.

"I've kind of designed it so that me and Helen [Hunt] would have a daughter, a junior in high school, but she's already dating a guy in college, and we'd kind of hand it off to them. There's a great story of the Tri-State Tornado I'd like to tie into it as well."

- news.com.au

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