The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 10 Facts About The Movie

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Starring Susan Sarandon Here are 10 trivia facts about The Rocky Horror Picture Show from 1975, which originally appeared as our Mystery Movie Quiz on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.

1. The leading actress was Oscar-nominated (and did win) but not for this movie.

Nominated four times before, Susan Sarandon won the Best Actress Academy Award for her role as Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking (1995). Her first nomination was for her role opposite Burt Lancaster in Atlantic City (1980). Next, both she and her co-star Geena Davis were nominated for their superb performances in 1991’s Thelma and Louise, and the following year came her third Academy nod for Lorenzo’s Oil. Sarandon was again nominated for playing attorney “Reggie” Love in The Client (1994) before hitting the jackpot opposite Sean Penn.

Her acting career got an unexpected jump start when after the 1968 Democratic Convention; Susan’s then-husband Chris Sarandon answered a casting call for a new film requiring men and women who would be the type that would disrupt a political assembly. The movie was Joe (1969), and Chris went to the audition seeking a role, while Susan tagged along.

It turned out Chris–who actually studied acting–wasn’t chosen. Somehow Susan clicked with the producers, though, and got a pretty good first-time-out role as Melissa Compton, the daughter of ad executive Bill (Dennis Patrick), who accidentally kills Melissa’s drug-dealing boyfriend and then befriends bigoted blue-collar worker Joe (Peter Boyle) at a bar.

2. This was the lead actor’s first feature film.

Tim Curry appeared in six TV shows between 1968 and 1974 before being cast as “Dr. Frank-N-Furter – A Scientist” in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a role he created in the London stage version (where it was known as just “The Rocky Horror Show”). It’s been reported that Curry started out doing his role with a heavy German accent but switched over to his final presentation in a proper, upper crust British voice he sort of imagined would be a mix of his mother’s and his idea of what the Queen Mother would sound like.

3. One of the main characters had almost no previous acting experience.

As a professional model, Peter Hinwood was earning a good living when he was cast in the movie as hunky “Rocky Horror – A Creation.” At the time Hinwood had little or no experience in acting, although he had once appeared in a British TV mini-series as the Greek god Hermes and in Roddy McDowall’s 1971 horror film The Devil’s Widow. His screen career ended with a small role in Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane (1976). Peter didn’t like the publicity the movie thrust upon him and retired from show biz. Once away from the Rocky Horror spotlight, he had great success afterward dealing in antiques, which the Magazine House and Garden once highlighted with a two-page spread.

Because his role as Rocky didn’t require him to speak, it may not be well known (except to RHPS aficionados) that Hinwood’s singing voice in the movie isn’t his — it was dubbed by Trevor White, an Australian singer, which they both acknowledged in a 2002 interview.

4. One of the male leads is well-known for a hit TV series.

Spin City, the TV series that ran 1996-2002, may be considered a vehicle for Michael J. Fox, but it wouldn’t have been the same without his bantering with Barry Bostwick as Randall Wilson, New York City’s Mayor. Bostwick was still the mayor when Michael’s illness caused him to drop out of the show and be replaced by Charlie Sheen, one year before Charlie started on Two and a Half Men.

5. Four of the actors repeated their stage roles in the movie.

Tim Curry as “Dr. Frank-N-Furter,” “LIttle Nell” Campbell as “Columbia – A Groupie,” and Patricia Quinn as “Magenta – A Domestic” reprised their roles from the original London stage version. Although Quinn performed the opening song, “Science Fiction Double Feature,” she didn’t get the opportunity to sing it in the movie. Instead, it is her red lips seen in the film’s beginning, lip-syncing the voice of RHPS creator Richard O’Brien. Jonathan Adams, who narrated the wild goings-on as The Criminologist on stage, switched roles to play Dr. Scott for the film, and the movie’s director, costume designer and the production designer were also stage transplants.

6. A legendary rock star made his movie debut in this film.

Marvin Lee Aday (now Michael Lee Aday), better known to the world as Meat Loaf, created the role of Eddie in the imported American stage version of The Rocky Horror Show, after he received a call in 1973 asking him to play the parts of Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott (in that incarnation of the show, he played both parts). Then, he reprised the role of Eddie in the 1975 filming.

7. Three well-known actors tried unsuccessfully to be cast in this movie.

Can you imagine Mick Jagger as Dr. Frank N. Furter? Supposedly he wanted the role, but the director, Jim Sharman, chose as many of the original cast as he could. How about Steve Martin as Brad? He auditioned for the movie part. And for the role of The Criminologist, it was hoped that horror icon Vincent Price could lend his sinister presence. Having loved the show when he saw it in London, Price wanted to do it but was already scheduled for another movie, so ex-James Bond villain Charles Gray came on board. Price would have been terrific in the part, but fans are happy with just the cast exactly as it is.

8. Only three of the ten leading roles in this movie were cast with American actors.

Director Jim Sharman was insistent on keeping the original stage cast in the movie where he could, and the film’s budget was reduced because of it — except he did agree to cast U.S. actors as Janet and Brad. Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, along with Meat Loaf, stand out as the only Yanks in the mostly-British ensemble. The character of Brad Majors was originally intended for Cliff De Young, but scheduling conflicts kept him away. Opportunity knocked twice in 1981, when he did appear in the sequel, Shock Treatment.

9. The residence seen in the movie has been used for many other films.

When it was built in 1859, who would have imagined that England’s Oakley Court would become the Gothic Victorian “castle” of Dr. Frank N. Furter, as well as the home of many blood-curdling Hammer Films productions, including The Brides of Dracula (1960) and And Now the Screaming Starts (1973) with Peter Cushing? One reason is that Hammer’s Bray Studio is right next door to the 35-acre estate. Films such as Director William Castle’s comedic spin on the J.B. Priestley novel, The Old Dark House (1963) were shot there, as was the sensual shocker of undead lusts. Vampyres (1975). It was also the setting for Neil Simon’s hilarious 1975 all-star whodunit, Murder by Death. In 1981, the property was extensively refurbished into a hotel and will probably look familiar to fans of the 1990s British TV series Pie in the Sky, which used  it as the Laxton Grange Hotel.

10. It holds the record for the longest theatrical run in film history.

It was in 2005 when the U.S. Library of Congress chose TRHPS for preservation in the National Film Registry because it was decided it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It should therefore be no wonder that The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to play somewhere in limited release, even more than 35 years after it first premiered in 1975. It developed a huge following around the globe since midnight showings started in 1977, with audiences responding by participating in costume, lip-syncing the dialogue and songs, and ad-libbing their own lines. The  20th Century-Fox product became the very first big studio movie to enter the market of midnight showings, and the movie is the most financially successful “late night” movie of all time.

And now, if you are among the uninitiated, get a peek at what it’s all about in the trailer from The Rocky Horror Picture Show… and if you know the movie, you’ll get into it even more: