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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  • Film debut of Jesse James.
  • In one take, Helen Hunt read 18 straight pages of the thank you letter.
  • Helen Hunt took a two-year break from movies after this film. She'd been working almost non-stop since she was 9 years old.
  • Jack Nicholson joked that they should call the movie "Warm Rolls and Wet Pants".
  • Uma Thurman was considered for the role of Carol, but the producers turned her down because she was too young.
  • The MPAA originally rated this film R. It was reduced to PG-13 on appeal.
  • The movie was originally called Old Friends. Hans Zimmer suggested renaming it.
  • The original script was written by Mark Andrus. James L. Brooks did a rewrite of it when he bought the screenplay.
  • Helen Hunt said that if you had to categorise the movie, it would be a romantic comedy. But that wasn't the original plan. Hunt said, "It arrived in the [footage] so we all went, 'Okay.'"
  • During a scene in Twister when there at the drive-in the movie playing is The Shining staring Jack Nicholson. Helen Hunt starred in Twister.
  • Skeet Ulrich and Jamie Kennedy play two of the three thieves. The previous year they starred in Scream (1996) together.
  • Melvin has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). His anxieties and fears lead to repetitive behavior.
  • 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.
  • Kevin Kline was attached to the film at an early stage.
  • 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.
  • Jesse James wasn't intimidated to work with Jack Nicholson. He just thought of him as an "old guy" who was really nice.
  • 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.
  • The sketches of the dog in the background were drawn by NYC artist Joan Semmel.
  • The most recent film to win both Best Actor and Best Actress at the Academy awards.
  • The role of Melvin Udall was initially offered to John Travolta.
  • Carol's neighborhood of Windsor Terrace is just off Brooklyn's Prospect Park. James L. Brooks liked the area so much he considered making a documentary about it.
  • 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."
  • It's never mentioned, but the filmmakers decided that Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character was bisexual.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Art Garfunkel auditioned for the role of Simon.
  • Jack Nicholson wasn't supposed to kiss Helen Hunt, but James L. Brooks yelled to Nicholson, "Kiss her, man!"
  • The role of Carol Connelly was initially offered to Holly Hunter.
  • Melanie Griffith was offered the role of Carol Connelly and wanted to take the role but was pregnant with Stella Banderas at the time.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jack Nicholson said that playing Melvin was difficult, but he was "the most lovable character I've ever played."
  • Greg Kinnear had a hard time getting along with the dog.
  • 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.
  • Co-writer Mark Andrus wanted to write a movie about "the vilest man in New York."
  • When Melvin and Carol are in the restaurant in Maryland, the singer in the background is Danielle Brisebois, perhaps most recognisable for having played Archie and Edith's niece Stephanie on "All in the Family" (1971). The song she is singing is Fallen, which was the love theme from Pretty Woman.
  • 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.
  • Jack Nicholson and James L. Brooks third film together.
  • Jack Nicholson helped create Melvin's Wardrobe. He and the costume designer wanted a "downtown" look.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" was written by Monty Python's Eric Idle as the ending melody for Monty Python's Life of Brian. It has become a favorite in the UK for footballers and even funerals.
  • Shirley Knight's real-life actress daughter, Kaitlin Hopkins, has a cameo in this film. Her character bumps into Helen Hunt, who plays her onscreen daughter, in the lobby.
  • Paul Gross auditioned for the part of Simon Bishop, but the director told him he was too "fine-featured" for the part.
  • James L. Brooks purposely made the bathrobes the same as the ones in Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972).
  • Features Yeardley Smith and James L. Brooks who both work on The Simpsons and Maya Rudolph's first speaking feature film role.
  • Jack Nicholson was terrified no one would like the movie because his character is so horrible to people.
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. and Jack Nicholson were both in A Few Good Men.
  • The inside of Carol's apartment is a set, but they based it on a real apartment in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.
  • Jack Nicholson described the movie as "a love story where you do nothing but aggravate somebody."
  • Jack Nicholson would sometimes add compulsive ticks to his performance just out of the camera's view.
  • The filmmakers wanted Carol to look like an Edgar Degas painting
  • The clip on the TV is from an episode of I Dream of Jeannie.
  • 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.
  • James L. Brooks couldn't think of anyone to play Melvin besides Jack Nicholson. He did briefly consider Jim Carrey but said that "would have made it a completely different movie."
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • John Cusack considered the role of Simon Bishop, but pulled out due to conflicts with writing, filming, and producing Grosse Pointe Blank.
  • The real "Verdell" actually stayed at Jack Nicholson's Hollywood home during the movie.
  • Jack Nicholson felt that it was really important for his character to hold that map.
  • Greg Kinnear was scared to work with Jack Nicholson. He called Nicholson an actor of "great unpredictability."
  • Carol was originally supposed to be 44 years old. Helen Hunt was 34.
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