As Good As It Gets



138 Min

As Good As It Gets


New York City. Melvin Udall, a cranky, bigoted, obsessive-compulsive writer, finds his life turned upside down when neighboring gay artist Simon is hospitalized and his dog is entrusted to Melvin. In addition, Carol, the only waitress who will tolerate him, must leave work to care for her sick son, making it impossible for Melvin to eat breakfast.


Dec 19th, 1997


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  • An earlier version of the script was called "Old Friends". It was listed as one of the best unproduced screenplays by Movieline magazine and had Kevin Kline and Mike Newell attached at one point to star in and direct it, respectively.
  • Woody Harrelson read for the part of Simon. According to Harrelson, he "went too femme on it". The audition took place at Nicholson's home and Harrelson admits that he was nervous meeting him.
  • Features Yeardley Smith and James L. Brooks who both work on The Simpsons and Maya Rudolph's first speaking feature film role.
  • A bit of humor was added right after the statement "the animals used in this film were in no way mistreated" with "the actors used in this film were in no way mistreated."
  • Yeardley Smith, who plays Simon's assistant Jackie Simpson, is best known for being the voice of Lisa Simpson.
  • Uma Thurman was considered for the role of Carol, but the producers turned her down because she was too young.
  • Skeet Ulrich and Jamie Kennedy play two of the three thieves. The previous year they starred in Scream (1996) together.
  • Kevin Kline was attached to the film at an early stage.
  • The couple Melvin insults at the restaurant in the beginning of the movie are played by Peter Jacobson and Lisa Edelstein, who would go on to star together in the TV show House.
  • Udall's response to the question about how he writes women is an actual response given by author John Updike when asked the same question.
  • The song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" was written by Monty Python's Eric Idle as the ending melody for the 1979 "Life of Brian." It has become a favorite in the UK for footballers and even funerals.
  • The exterior used for Melvin Udall and Simon Bishop's apartment building is located near 5th Avenue on 12th Street in Manhattan.
  • At the 1998 Oscar ceremony, when his name was announced as the winner of the Best Actor award, Jack Nicholson ascended to the podium by carefully stepping over the cracks between the tiles on the stage, in imitation of his character, Melvin Udall. Nicholson dedicated his Oscar to his A Few Good Men co-star J.T. Walsh who had died shortly before the Academy Awards in 1998.
  • In Ironweed, made ten years before his film, Jack Nicholson tells Meryl Streep, "By God, Helen, that's as good as it gets," after her character sings the song, "He's Me Pal," in his honor.
  • In one scene the dog starts mimicking Jack Nicholson by stepping over the cracks in the sidewalk. The filmmakers accomplished this by placing little obstacles on the cracks so that the dog had to step over them. They then removed the obstacles digitally in post-production.
  • John Cusack considered the role of Simon Bishop, but pulled out due to conflicts with writing, filming, and producing Grosse Pointe Blank.
  • The original script was written by Mark Andrus. James L. Brooks did a rewrite of it when he bought the screenplay.
  • The role of Carol Connelly was initially offered to Holly Hunter.
  • Paul Gross auditioned for the part of Simon Bishop, but the director told him he was too "fine-featured" for the part.
  • Art Garfunkel auditioned for the role of Simon.
  • When Melvin and Carol are in the restaurant in Maryland, the singer in the background is Danielle Brisbois, perhaps most recognizable for having played Archie and Edith's niece Stephanie on All in the Family. The song she is singing is Fallen, which was the love theme from Pretty Woman.
  • The MPAA originally rated this film R. It was reduced to PG-13 on appeal.
  • The most recent film to win both Best Actor and Best Actress at the Academy awards.
  • Shirley Knight's real-life actress daughter, Kaitlin Hopkins, has a cameo in this film. Her character bumps into Helen Hunt's character in the lobby. Helen Hunt plays the on-screen daughter of Shirley Knight.
  • At the end of this film, when the credits begin to roll, the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" performed for this film by Art Garfunkel, begins to play. Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel starred together in the film, Carnal Knowledge.
  • This film features two actresses who play mother-in-laws in Desperate Housewives. Lupe Ontiveros, who plays Simon's maid, portrays Juanita Solis, mother of Gabrielle's (Eva Longoria) husband. Meanwhile, Shirley Knight, Carol's mother in this film, plays Phyllis Van De Kamp, Bree's (Marcia Cross) mother-in-law.
  • Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt would win the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars respectively for this film while Greg Kinnear was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Nicholson is the only actor to date (c. 2015) to ever star in a film for which he would win the Oscar for Best Actor that would also receive a Best Actress Oscar and also be nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The previous one was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) in which both Nicholson and Louise Fletcher won Oscars for Best Actor and Actress while Brad Dourif was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
  • The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Cuba Gooding Jr.; and three Oscar nominees: Greg Kinnear, Shirley Knight and Lawrence Kasdan.
  • Verdell the dog, was played by six Brussels Griffons, named Timer the Dog, Sprout, Debbie, Billy the Dog, Parfait, and Jill the Dog. Jill was the star.
  • Courtney Love turned down the role of Carol as she was recording the 'Celebrity Skin' album with her band Hole. She also felt she was too young for the part at the time.
  • Title of this movie was translated as "Mr. Cat Poop" in Hong Kong. Apparently it came from the name "Melvin" which is pronounced very similarly to the Cantonese colloquial word for cat poop.
  • The role of Melvin Udall was initially offered to John Travolta.
  • In the scene where Carol reads out a letter of apology and thanks to Melvin, Helen Hunt did one take where she read out an 18 page letter in its entirety.
  • Betty White, an animal rights activist, was offered the Shirley Knight (Beverly Connelly) role, but turned it down when she learned of how the dog would be mistreated in the movie.
  • Melanie Griffith was offered the role of Carol Connelly and wanted to take the role but was pregnant with Stella Banderas at the time.
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