American background X: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts around The Movie as controversial together it may be, American history X is a powerful film about a dark topic. Below are some facts about how this film was made.

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Tony Kaye"s American background X is among the most an effective and thought-provoking movies ever before made. The controversial redemption story the the confused Neo-Nazi leader Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) attempting to change his life because that the far better currently ranks #39 on IMDB"s optimal 25o through an 8.5/10 rating. The film additionally currently holds an 83% Certified fresh Rotten tomato rating.

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Released in theatre on November 20, 1998, the film barely damaged even in ~ the box-office by earning approximately $23 million top top an estimated $20 million budget. However, the film garnered one Academy compensation nomination because that Edward Norton as best Leading Actor. Here"s a comprehensive look ago at the film together it nears its 22nd anniversary.



The two odious Neo-Nazis in the movie were based upon real-life people. Derek Vinyard (Norton) is based upon real-life previous skinhead open minded Meeink. After ~ a three-year prison sentence, Meeink disowned the racialism movement and also began publicly speaking versus such organizations.

Meanwhile, Cameron Alexander (Stacy Keach) was based on Tom Metzger, the leader that the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), a hateful white supremacist group based out of southern California. Though battle was bankrupted right into relative irrelevance adhering to some members" convictions for the murder of Mulugeta Seraw, Metzger remains a vocal racist to this day.

9 Joaquin Phoenix Turned down The command Role


Joaquin Phoenix Joker
Edward Norton turned under a role in Steven Spielberg"s Saving private Ryan to star in American history X. Before he was actors in the lead function of Derek Vinyard, Joaquin Phoenix to be approached. However, Phoenix decreased due come his discomfort with the film"s visceral subject matter.

For the other crucial roles, Marlon Brando to be in consideration for Cameron Alexander. Because that the role of Murray, writer/director/actor Paul Mazursky was strongly considered. That duty ultimately went to Elliot Gould.


Derek on court American history X
together with costar Edward Furlong, Edward Norton shaved his head to play Derek Vinyard. He likewise increased his caloric intake and gained as much as 30 pounds that muscle to bulk up his physique come appear more intimidating.

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Although director Tony Kaye balked in ~ the idea of casting Norton in ~ first, he at some point relented. Norton was so invested in making the movie that he cut his common fee the $1 million by $500,000 to star in American history X and assist keep the budget under control.

7 The Director practically Quit due to Script Changes


Derek and also Danny American history X
before Tony Kay to be hired by brand-new Line Cinema to direct American history X as his feature debut, the project was available to Easy Rider director Dennis Hopper to helm it. When Hopper declined, Kaye gained the job.

Once manufacturing commenced, number of script alters made through stars Norton and Furlong took location in a method that undermined director. Kaye was so distraught over exactly how the direction the the story veered far from what he initially planned the he voiced his desire come quit the project. While the did end up the film, the wasn"t the end of Kaye"s conflict with American history X.


The abovementioned directorial problem got also nastier as soon as Norton re-edited the film and elongated the runtime by 24-minutes over the early workprint. Conflict reports say Norton offered himself much more screentime, while others insurance claim he merely salvaged the film. One of two people way, Kaye ended up being so incensed that he make the efforts to have his name eliminated from the film altogether and have it replaced with "Humpty Dumpty."

However, a Director"s Guild the America (DGA) preeminence stipulates that if a director supplies an alias, they cannot publicly talk about the reason why, together Kaye frequently did in publications choose Variety. Together such, he was unable to eliminate his name from the last product, yet he tho distanced self from the project. Though released in 1998, the didn"t watch American background X until 2007.

5 The Director sue His Movie


as a an outcome of the rancorous rift between new Line Cinema and Tony Kaye, the manager filed a sue seeking approximately $200 million native the studio and also the DGA for damages. Follow to the book Cinematic Century, Kaye filed the fit over the usage of his name on the film.

New line producer Michael De Luca attempted come smooth points over before the skirmish finished in a sue by having actually a meeting v Kaye that consisted of the calming visibility of a Jewish rabbi, buddhism monk, and Catholic priest. Kaye pushed forward, despite the lawsuit to be dismissed in 2000. Kaye has since apologized for his behavior, confessing the his ego got the better of him.


The disgruntled director wasn"t the just entity to paper a lawsuit against brand-new Line over the making of American background X. The punk tape Anti-Heroes also filed a suit for having a skinhead personality in the film wear a tattoo of their band.

The members that Anti-Heroes wanted zero association through such hateful racialism characters, yet fictional, and sought legal activity as a result. In response, brand-new Line Cinema has since edited the band"s logo design out of any future releases. The band later on recorded a song dubbed "NLC," i m sorry overtly besmirched brand-new Line Cinema.

3 Danny"s Term file Has A hint Of Hope


The dramatic crux that the movie deals with Derek"s personal redemption and also his dogged attempt to protect against his brothers Danny from gift brainwashed through Cameron"s hateful ideology. Back Derek is also late to eventually save his brother, Danny"s term paper hints he as well was top top a righteous path prior to his untimely death.

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The final line the Danny"s powerful school essay the is heard in ~ the finish of the film is taken from Abraham Lincoln"s an initial Inaugural address in 1861. Lincoln, who sought to erode racial divisions, drafted the Emancipation Proclamation one year later.


because that the step in i beg your pardon Derek and also Danny re-superstructure breakfast prior to attending school, it was shot in the very same diner featured in the Coen Brothers" classic stoner comedy The huge Lebowski. The latter used the diner for one of its many iconic scenes, especially the one where Walter (John Goodman) accidentally deduces the truth around Bunny"s (fake) toe and cases that the can acquire The Dude (Jeff Bridges) a toe by three o"clock.

The diner is a real café referred to as Johnny"s Coffee Shop, situated in Los Angeles between Wilshire and Fairfax. The diner is still obtainable for filming come this day, with various other credits including City that Angels and Reservoir Dogs. Coincidentally, both American background X and The big Lebowski were exit in 1998.

1 The Original finishing Was Bleaker


among the major changes Norton made to the movie was the final scene. In the initial screenplay, the ending would have discovered Derek staring at himself in a mirror prior to he starts to shave his head. The implicitly is that, no matter exactly how socially mindful he is and no matter exactly how much he thinks he"s changed, Derek can not escape the bike of violence. Norton rejected this and made a brand-new ending.

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In Norton"s version, Derek sees his beliefs bite back in the worst possible way when Danny is gunned down after he emulated his Neo-Nazi ways. Together Derek mourns, Danny"s voiceover reciting Lincoln"s words have the right to be heard. Despite still depressing and also with the very same message about the cycle of violence, this brand-new conclusion wasn"t as hopeless together the original. This was one of the countless things Kaye took issue with, which led to American background X"s controversies that weren"t even related come its subject matter.