CATEGORIES Movie NewsHow big a "Singles" fan are you? You may have worn out your CD of the best-selling soundtrack and made a pilgrimage to the landmark apartment house in Seattle. And you probably know all the cameos: Eric Stoltz is the mime that won't shut up, Tim Burton is the dating video director, and that's Jeremy Piven as a hyper supermarket clerk chatting up lead Campbell Scott. But for the film's 20th anniversary (it was released on Sept. 18, 1992) we've unearthed 25 things you might not know about "Singles," including that it was once set in Arizona or that it might have starred Johnny Depp(!).
1. "Singles" was in the works as early as 1984 and was originally going to be set in Phoenix, Arizona.
2. The movie took a different course after the 1990 death of Andrew Wood, the lead singer of Mother Love Bone (whose remaining members would go on to form Pearl Jam.). As Crowe wrote in his film diary, "I was in the process of rewriting an old script of mine at the time. .. I wanted to write something that captured the feeling in that room. Not Andy's story but the story of how people instinctively need to be together. Is anybody truly single?"
3. Despite the presence of local rock stars, Crowe didn't set out to make a movie about the Seattle scene: "People thought 'Singles' was going to be 'The Mark Arm Story.' [Arm was the lead singer of grunge frontrunners Mudhoney.] What 'Singles' was always meant to be was 'Manhattan' set in Seattle.
4. Crowe cast Pearl Jam in the movie before they were even known as Pearl Jam (they changed their name from Mookie Blaylock during filming). He met Stone Gossard [lead guitarist] and Jeff Ament [bassist] through Heart's publicist and tour manager and interviewed them about their "lifestyle," then decided to put them in the film.
5. Crowe calls the movie his "least successful" and admitted, "I never got that movie cast right. It's the only movie that I've directed that didn't feel right."
6. Johnny Depp turned down the lead role that went to Campbell Scott (as did Matt Dillon, who instead played rocker Cliff). While we can picture Depp as a slightly addled rock dude, Crowe says he actually wanted him to play the straight guy, something he wasn't ready to do at the time. Crowe recalls that Depp told him, "I'll get there one day, but I can't say 'I love you' yet on screen." Depp, who was fresh off "21 Jump Street," went on to shoot "Benny and Joon" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" instead.
7. Dillon had to be talked into signing on to an ensemble film. "'He was saying, 'I like the script, but have you seen my movies?''' Crowe told journalist Tim Appelo in a 1992 interview. ''I'm kind of the star of my movies.' So I told him it's a role Jack Nicholson might have done, like in 'Terms of Endearment.' He said, 'Ehhhh I dunno.''' Dillon wasn't convinced until he met -- and got drunk with -- the future Pearl Jam. "'I thought, okay, I know where I'm goin'. These guys are cool," he told EW.
8. The studio hated Dillon's grunge look (which was inspired by Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament). Crowe got a note from an exec saying, "Matt Dillon looks like Charles Manson! What are you doing to that attractive young man?'
9. Dillon also hated his long-haired wig, as video director Josh Taft, who shot the making-of movie, recalled in Mark Yarm's book, "Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge," "We all had to go and give our opinions on 120 wigs that they pulled. I remember Matt being very insecure. You know, Matt Dillon is Matt Dillon. He doesn't wear a wig. If anything, the guy plays himself, so he seemed super-uneasy with it."
10. There was also wig drama with Campbell Scott, who played nice guy Steve. He'd already shaved his head to play a cancer patient in "Dying Young." Crowe worried that the actor was so thin he "looked like a leukemia victim" and the studio called to complain, "Campbell Scott looks sick." Campbell looked so bad, in fact, that the studio wanted to replace him, but Crowe decided to keep him, and his real hair. The director wrote in his film diary, "I meet Campbell out in the hallway and tell him we're going to go with his real hair, shortness be damned... In the three days we've taken to find his wig, Campbell's hair has grown just enough to work."
11. Appelo, who hung with the cast and director for his 1992 EW profile, relates, "Dillon's apartment was precisely modeled on Jeff Ament's. Also his clothes."
12. The cast met for the first time at a Mookie Blaylock (as Pearl Jam were originally known) and Alice in Chains show. Crowe recalled Dillon's odd conversational opener: "I hope this isn't a yuppie movie," no doubt a reference to the very upwardly mobile and clean-cut main couple, played by Scott and Kyra Sedgwick. Despite the awkwardness, Crowe wrote, "We go to the club. It's sweaty and packed, and the cast slowly makes friends as we sit in a corner booth."
13. There are two concerts in the film: Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, and two deleted scenes on the DVD, but Crowe would love to do an additional DVD with "some of the unreleased stuff and the concert sequences too."
14. The movie was shot in 1991, then sat on the shelf until the studio -- who had originally wanted to move it to "the beachside volleyball courts of L.A." -- realized it had a bankable movie with grunge superstars in it. Crowe recalled, ''65-year-old studio guys,'' were shouting, ''We've got a film in Seattle! Is Kurt Cobain in it?''
15. Warner Brothers hated the title "Singles" and offered several suggestions, including "In the Midnight Hour," "Love in Seattle," and -- if you'll recall the film's ever-present answering machines -- "Leave Me a Message." To capitalize on Nirvana's enormous popularity, they also suggested "Come As You Are," even though the band (and its music) appears nowhere in the film.
16. "The only way the studio would release the movie was if we had a promotional party where Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees and Alice in Chains play," Crowe told Contact Music. Unfortunately, the new-to-superstardom band choked and, as Crowe recalls, "Eddie [Vedder] got drunk, very drunk... The show was a disaster. People were streaming for the exits. Fights were breaking out. The music was basically unairable. It was just, in retrospect, perfectly hideous." Vedder and Crowe didn't speak about the incident until the filming of "Pearl Jam 20."
17. Crowe didn't make any money off the hit soundtrack. "I didn't want to take any money that belonged to those musicians... It was meant to be something pure, and still is for me. The whole thing was a little bit muted about how to pay tribute to the Seattle scene because by the time it came out it was a global phenomenon."
18. At one point, Warner Bros. wanted to do a "Singles" TV series, but Crowe turned them down.
19. Cameron wrote the part of Janet specifically for Bridget Fonda.
20. Sonic Youth appeared (uncredited) in the deleted French Club scene, which appears as an outtake on the DVD.
21. The apartment building where most of the characters live is real, but the fountain in the courtyard and the elevator are not, as a former tenant told Moviefone. And Matt Dillon's apartment? Actually the basement.
22. Steve's dream project, the Seattle Super Train, finally came true, in a way. Sound Transit's light rail system debuted in 2003 and expanded in 2009. Instead of the 900,000 to a million passengers Steve pitched to the mayor, its daily ridership is around 26,200.
23. The Java Stop coffee house where Fonda's character works was actually the live-music venue the OK Hotel, where bands including Nirvana and Mudhoney headlined. If you're trekking to Seattle to sit in a window booth as Matt Dillon and Eddie Vedder did, you're out of luck: The hotel closed in 2001 after being damaged in an earthquake. But you can live there: it's been restored and is now a condo and art space.
24. Doug Pray, the director of the documentary "Hype!," a cynical take on the explosion of the Seattle scene, told Yarm, "Cameron Crowe actually called me and tried to talk me out of making Hype! for 45 minutes: 'What can you possibly hope to achieve? The scene has already reached its apex. It's everywhere. People are tired of it. Please don't do a movie about this.'" "Hype!" came out in 1996, well after "Singles."
25. Resentful of a more famous movie set in the Emerald City, Crowe joked that there should be a plaque at the most famous "Singles" location, the apartment building where Dillon and Fonda's characters live. "Nobody ever said, 'here's where they filmed 'Singles.' But they would say 'Sleepless in Seattle' was here, 'Sleepless in Seattle' was there, the people making 'Sleepless in Seattle' once walked through this building."