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Man on Fire (2004) Poster

(2004)

Trivia

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Writer Brian Helgeland first saw the original Man on Fire (1987) when he was renting videos in the late-'80s. He walked in to the video store where Quentin Tarantino was working, and asked what was good. Tarantino recommended Man on Fire (1987).
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Most of the scenes between Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken were completely improvised.
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Denzel Washington was so impressed with Dakota Fanning's acting that he'd watch her, and forget he was in the scene.
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Denzel Washington was cast in this film because of a trip to a doctor. He ran into director Tony Scott in the waiting room of a medical office and the two men started chatting. Scott had not seen Washington in person since they worked together on Crimson Tide (1995). Scott happened to see Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam (2001) the night before, and seeing Washington made Scott think of using them together.
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The kitchen scene between Creasy and Pita, where she asked him about concubines, was mostly ad-libbed. It started when they "accused" each other of smiling.
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The kidnappers first names in the movie, Daniel and his brother Aurelio, are the actual first names of real life Mexico City kidnappers in the late 90s, Daniel and Aurelio Arizmendi Lopez, the infamous "Ear Loppers".
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Mickey Rourke and Denzel Washington did not get along during filming.
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Radha Mitchell had three bodyguards protecting her, when she was in Mexico for filming. She said they were hired, after her driver was carjacked at gunpoint in Mexico City.
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Radha Mitchell was intimidated when she first met Dakota Fanning. "I want to meet her when she's 25. I think she's going to knock everybody out."
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Dakota Fanning was missing her front teeth during filming. The film-makers debated whether they should add fake teeth on her and even made them for the actress. In the end, they decided not to use them.
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Denzel Washington would sometimes quiz Dakota Fanning on state capitals between takes.
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Creasy's quote about arranging a meeting between the kidnappers and God is similar to a quote falsely attributed to General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. It is not clear whose work the original quote is, which goes: "It's God's responsibility to judge Osama bin Laden. It is our responsibility to arrange the meeting."
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Dakota Fanning gave Denzel Washington a gift in real-life: a scarf she knitted for his wife.
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Dakota Fanning took piano, swimming, and Spanish lessons for her role.
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While filming in Mexico City, the police told Tony Scott that his crew was targeted for kidnapping. Several crew members were robbed at gunpoint.
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Denzel Washington spent ten days with advanced weapons training specialists to prepare for this role.
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Dakota Fanning had a "stunt-burper" because she couldn't do it.
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Denzel Washington kept a low profile in Mexico. He was surrounded by bodyguards at all times.
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Denzel Washington complained of feeling bored with acting, before taking on the role of Creasy.
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Mexico City's Police Chief Marcelo Ebrard helped with the movie, and hoped it'd shine a light on kidnapping.
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Dakota Fanning wrote everything in the diary herself.
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The visual effects in the editing of the film (disjointed, unfocused images), are a representation of Creasey's mental and physical state throughout.
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Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning bonded on-set by playing Ping Pong.
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Denzel Washington worked with a voice coach for three months to learn American-accented Spanish.
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Dakota Fanning's first day of shooting was for the scene where Creasy takes Pita to school for the first day.
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The actor who played Aurelio didn't speak English at all.
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The movie was shot in five months in Mexico City.
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Tony Scott decided to make Pita a swimmer after watching his nieces at a meet.
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Marlon Brando was the original choice to play Rayburn.
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Even though it was never actually mentioned in the film, John Creasy was a Force Recon Marine prior to working for the CIA. When Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) is reading through Creasy's "extensive" resumé in the car, it can be seen for a very brief moment that he was assigned to 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
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The production hired seventy local actors and 11,000 extras during more than three months of filming.
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Tony Scott tried to have a version of the film made in 1983, but since the film would have been his second, after The Hunger (1983), Paul Davies, a journal article author, theorized that movie producers would have believed that Scott lacked the experience to direct the film.
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Denzel Washington spoke to a lot of bodyguards to prepare for his role.
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A couple of Mercedes S-classes were bought and utterly destroyed during filming.
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The kidnappers are modeled after the infamous Arizmendi gang, who made 300 million dollars in ransom in six years.
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Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Will Smith, and Bruce Willis were offered the role of Creasy. They have all previously worked with Tony Scott. (Cruise in Top Gun (1986) and Days of Thunder (1990), Willis in The Last Boy Scout (1991), De Niro in The Fan (1996), and Smith in Enemy of the State (1998)).
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Denzel Washington stayed in character whenever he was on set.
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A deleted scene shows Creasy and Rayburn describing their long history together. Tony Scott said, "In the end, you don't need it. I love to keep an audience working for their information."
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20th Century Fox wanted the film to be set in Italy. An early draft of the film script was set in Naples. Tony Scott argued that if the setting would be Italy, then the film would have to be a period piece, since by the 2000s, kidnappings became a rare occurrence in Italy. Mexico City became the setting of the film, because Mexico City had a high kidnapping rate, and due to other reasons. As a result, the character Rika Balletto was renamed Lisa Martin Ramos, and Pinta Balletto was renamed Lupita "Pita" Ramos. Ettore Balletto became Samuel Ramos.
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Writer Brian Helgeland was not really keen on writing a movie he probably would not end up directing, so the producers told him that Tony Scott was working on another project that he might shoot instead of Man on Fire. In the end, that other project didn't end up getting made, and Scott ended up directing.
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The guy cleaning the window of the car, early in the movie when Creasy drives Pita back from school, wears Tony Scott's faded red baseball hat.
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The occasional opera-like singing of a woman as background in a few scenes is identical, or very similar, to that used by Tony Scott's brother Ridley in Gladiator a few years earlier.
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"The Voice" lives in apartment 26D Via Appia. Via Appia is also the road in Italy where the 6,000 rebel slaves that followed Spartacus were crucified.
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The filmmakers were inspired by Santería, a religion that mixes Roman Catholicism with voodoo.
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The filmmakers were inspired by City of God (2002), for the gritty visual style of this movie.
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When Creasy reads the address of Aurelio Sanchez on the piece of paper, you can see that the street name is 'Via Appia'. This street doesn't actually exist in New-Mexico, but it obviously refers to the ancient Via Appia road in Rome. Heavy criminals used to be crucified by the side of that road, to make a statement towards society and especially towards other criminals.
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Tony Scott had Marc Anthony look at a photo of his real daughter to get him more emotional.
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Antoine Fuqua was offered the chance to direct the movie, but he was already busy with production on King Arthur (2004).
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It's left unclear as what Creasy's past is, but Tony Scott says he killed a lot of people in U.S. Special Ops.
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Radha Mitchell was excited to play a character who "got to wear expensive clothes every day."
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The zebra in Pita's house belonged to the real owner of the house. It is a real stuffed zebra. There were also leopard skin rugs around the house.
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Manzano says he was a former director of Interpol in Rome. Three years before this film, Giancarlo Giannini was an inspector in Tony Scott's brother Ridley Scott's film Hannibal (2001).
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Denzel Washington plays the role Scott Glenn portrayed in Man on Fire (1987). Washington and Glenn co-starred together in Training Day (2001) and Courage Under Fire (1996).
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The scenes at Pita's school were shot at a convent nearly identical to one Tony Scott visited in Milan. He'd gone there to scout locations for this movie. "It felt like déjà vu."
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Michael Bay was offered the chance to direct this movie.
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Radha Mitchell missed having bodyguards after returning to Los Angeles.
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Pita's dog is named Sam, ostensibly named after her father, Samuel, but also a reference to the original 1987 film. In that film, which is set in Italy, the girl who John Creasy is hired to protect is named Samantha "Sam" Balletto.
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The second film, after Trapped (2002), where Dakota Fanning plays a character who is kidnapped.
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Tony Scott wanted people to experience this movie like "a jigsaw puzzle."
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Tony Scott grew up watching Giancarlo Giannini in Italian movies. Giannini was in Hannibal (2001), directed by Tony's brother Ridley Scott.
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Tony Scott cast Charles Paraventi after seeing him in City of God (2002). Scott liked him so much, he flew him in from Brazil.
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Ricardo Darín turned down a role in the movie.
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Christopher Walken's character Paul Rayburn is a reference to The Fan (1996), also directed by Tony Scott.
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Denzel Washington's watch is a Casio Protrek PRG-40.
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Interesting name: John Creasey (with the second "e") was a popular and prolific British writer of crime and detective fiction, the original creator of The Baron (1966) and Commander George Gideon of Scotland Yard (filmed more than once, most notably with Jack Hawkins as Gideon in Gideon of Scotland Yard (1958).
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Marc Anthony married Jennifer Lopez the year this movie came out. They were dating during the filming of this movie.
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Bollywood movie Ek Ajnabee (Literally translation - A Stranger) starring Amitabh Bacchan and Arjun Rampal is inspired by this movie.
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Denzel Washington was in talks to start work on directing his next movie while working on this movie.
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Creasy wears a blue jacket with the number "24" on the back most of the film. If you watch carefully, you can catch a glimpse or 2 of the front: "Rucker Park". This is a legendary city park in Harlem in New York City. It is famous for the street basketball games played there. Numerous NBA stars have played there in the summer. There is a similar park (with similar players) in the West Village. It is on the corner of West 3rd Street and 6th Avenue, and has a similar reputation. Half court games were played there as well; especially in the 1980s and 1990s.
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Henry Bean worked on screenplay revisions.
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The license plate of the policeman is C5T-K89.
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This is Tony Scott's third movie to be filmed in the Super 35 format since Beverly Hills Cop II (1987).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the original filmed ending, Creasy does not die in the car on the way to The Voice's house. The two meet and chat for a while about the price of human life. Creasy continually looks down at his watch. When the timer reaches zero, Creasy smiles. Then, the entire house explodes. This implies that Creasy used the rectal bomb that he used on Fuentes earlier in the film. Tony Scott cut the scene, because he felt that it did not fit in with the tone of the film.
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Christopher Walken was originally chosen for the role of Samuel Ramos's lawyer, Jordan Kaufus, but Walken wanted to play the role of Rayburn to break away from playing the role of bad guys.
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Two sex scenes were filmed, but then cut. One was between Creasy and Lisa, and the other between Lisa and her husband.
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While in the film Pita survives the kidnapping and Creasy dies at the end, in the novel Pita is killed by the kidnappers and Creasy survives. (Author A.J. Quinnell wrote four more novels featuring Creasy and was working on a sixth at the time of his death in 2005).
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A deleted scene showed Samuel cutting off his lawyer's head with the sword.
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The mountain seen at the site where Creasy was exchanged for Pita is called Volcán Popocatepetl.
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