Mark Mancini and the Mental_Floss present 14 Campy Facts About Ed Wood. Here are three of my favorites…
1. IT’S THE BRAINCHILD OF FORMER COLLEGE ROOMMATES.
In 1981, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski—both freshmen at the USC School of Cinema-Television—met each other in a cafeteria line, hit it off immediately, and arranged to become roommates. During their senior year, the duo began joining forces on an assortment of screenwriting projects, kicking off a partnership that continues to this day. Together, they have co-written Problem Child (1990), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), Man on the Moon (1999), and Big Eyes (2014). On the small screen, they also developed the hit FX series American Crime Story, which recently completed its first season with The People v. O. J. Simpson.
Before graduating from USC in 1985, Alexander and Karaszewski briefly considered making a documentary on history’s most enigmatic director, Edward D. Wood, Jr. Although this project went unrealized, they eventually returned to the subject. In 1992, author Rudolph Grey published Ed Wood: Nightmare of Ecstasy (The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.), a thoroughly researched oral biography of Wood and his work. The book inspired Alexander and Karaszewski to pen a 10-page story treatment for a new biopic about the eccentric, cross-dressing auteur.
3. COLUMBIA PICTURES DROPPED THE FILM AFTER BURTON INSISTED ON SHOOTING IT IN BLACK AND WHITE.
One month before production began, Ed Wood hit a snag. Burton was fortunate enough to hire his first choice for the role of Bela Lugosi, actor Martin Landau, and makeup artist Rick Baker made Landau look uncannily similar to the Hungarian movie star. Nevertheless, after watching the first color tests, something felt a bit off. That’s when everyone realized that they’d only ever seen black-and-white photographs of Lugosi. Immediately, Burton decided that Ed Wood couldn’t be filmed in color.
The movie was being developed by Columbia Pictures, whose higher-ups disagreed with Burton’s decision to shoot in black and white. “They were saying, ‘Look, we can’t get our cable money, we can’t get our foreign video money, we won’t be able to exploit the movie in a lot of markets if it’s in black-and-white,” Alexander recalled. Still, Burton held firm. Realizing he wouldn’t budge, Columbia abandoned the picture. Fortunately, Disney was there to pick it up—and allowed Burton to follow his creative instincts.
9. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE’S LEADING MAN IS IN IT.
Although he appeared in more than 30 movies and worked with visionaries like Steven Spielberg and John Ford, Gregory Walcott is chiefly remembered for playing the main character in Plan 9 From Outer Space. “It’s enough to drive a puritan to drink!” Walcott vented in 1998. Regardless, when Tim Burton’s Ed Wood came around, he made a quick cameo as a prospective investor in one scene. The film marked Walcott’s final film appearance; the actor passed away in 2015.