15 things you (probably) didn't know about Groundhog Day

  • 15 things you (probably) didn't know about Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is one of the defining comedies of the '90s; an inventive concept with a wonderful story with Bill Murray - with his star still flying high - at his leading man best, with his Ghostbusters co-star, and Caddyshack director Harold Ramis behind the camera.

While it is one of the most-loved comedy movies, we're here to fill you in on some of the details that you may not know about the time-loop classic...

15. The idea came from Dracula

One of the things that gave screenwriter Danny Rubin the inspiration for the story came from reading Interview with the Vampire.

Rubin thought about what it would be like to live forever and started penning the script about a man stuck in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again.

14. The Groundhog didn't make for a good onscreen partner

During the scene that Bill Murray kidnaps 'Phil the Groundhog' and let him drive the truck, he improvised the line: "Don't drive angry, don't drive angry!"

This was because the groundhog on Murray's lap was agitated and trying to escape by climbing over the steering wheel.

A moment later it bit Murray on the hand so badly that he had to seek medical treatment.

During shooting Murray was bitten twice by the groundhog and had to have anti-rabies injections due to the severity of the bites.

13. It's still disputed how long Phil spends trapped in Groundhog Day

Over the years, many fans have attempted to calculate how many times Phil repeats the 24 hour Groundhog Day cycle.

A website named Wolf Gnards worked out that Bill Murray spends 8 years, 8 months and 16 days, while The Movie Truth review series calculated it was more like 12 and a half years - 4,576 days to be exact.

Meanwhile, website WhatCulture deduced that in order to account for Phil becoming a master piano player, ice sculptor, etc, he would have to be trapped for 12,403 days in total - just under 34 years.

Director Harold Ramis stated on the DVD commentary that the original idea was for Bill Murray's character to live 2nd February for 10,000 years, but later he went on to remark that Phil probably lived the same day for about 10 years.

Ramis, however,  later told a reporter, "I think the 10-year estimate is too short. It takes at least 10 years to get good at anything, and allotting for the downtime and misguided years he spent, it had to be more like 30 or 40 years."

12. The original script was much clearer - and it had done the working out

In screenwriter Danny Rubin's original script, Phil would live out the same day for 10,000 years.

To keep track of how many times he had repeated the same 24 hours, Phil would read a single page in one of the B&B's library books per day.

He would live the same day so many times, that he managed to read through all of the books multiple times.

11. Harold Ramis struggled to find a leading man who was 'nasty' enough

When casting for the role of Phil Connors, Harold Ramis originally wanted Tom Hanks but decided that Hanks was "too nice" to play the jaded weatherman.

Ramis considered, and then turned down, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Travolta for the same reason - they were all "far too nice" compared to Bill Murray.

Meanwhile, the less nice Michael Keaton was approached for the lead, but turned it down as he "didn't get it", and has gone on to admit that he regrets passing it up.

10. The original script saw Phil already trapped in the time-loop when the film starts

Danny Rubin's original plan was to have Phil already trapped, purposefully leaving the audience wondering why he starts off his day by punching Ned Ryerson, and then knows exactly how everything is going to happen, with a voiceover then explaining what had led up to this.

Director and co-writer Harold Ramis promised Rubin that he wouldn't change that aspect of the script, explaining in the DVD commentary: "I’d actually told Danny Rubin that I loved the fact that he just started right in the middle with the device already occurring."

However, Ramis felt that kicking off the film in that way would cheat viewers from seeing how the story had unfolded, and changed the beginning of the film - and despite his promise to Rubin, Ramis declared: "Of course, it was the first thing I changed.”

9. An explanation for the time-loop was going to be included

Ramis and Danny Rubin considered including an explanation for how Phil got stuck in the time-loop.

The ideas that they came up with was that he had been cursed by a scorned lover or someone that he had verbally abused.

Early drafts of the script had the bizarre story that an ex-lover named Stephanie cast a spell on Phil to teach him a lesson 'to make sweet love to groundhogs all over the land whilst reading Charles Dickens whilst covered in shame'.

Fortunately, Ramis and Rubin decided not to include an explanation to help add to the mystery.

8. Michael Shannon embarrassed himself in front of Bill Murray

In his film debut, Michael Shannon plays Fred the groom at the wedding, and between takes, he saw Murray listening to Talking Heads on a boombox.

Himself a big fan, Shannon approached Murray and asked if he liked the band, only for him to realise how dumb the question was; Murray replied in such a way to indicate he believed Shannon was stupid.

When Shannon recounted the story to Ramis, the director made Murray apologise to the aspiring actor, which served to further Shannon's embarrassment.

7. The pencil-destroying scene was initially on a larger scale

A scene was shot in which Phil destroyed his room in the B&B, slashing pillows, spray-painting the wall and then shaving his head, only for the camera to pull back from his face to show his hair was back and that the room had returned to normal when the day had reset.

Shooting the scene with a dissolving shot was hard to create, as Ramis explained: “When we shot it, it didn’t look like anything was the same. Things had moved, we couldn’t do this matched dissolve we had planned to do.”

The idea was scrapped, and the scene was changed to a much more straightforward idea of Phil breaking a pencil instead.

6. Phil's alarm clock proved to be as resilient in real life

In one of the mornings where "I Got You Babe" playing out of his alarm clock wakes up Phil, he picks it up and slams it to the floor, only for it to carry on playing Sonny & Cher.

For the take, Bill Murray slammed it onto the floor just like his character, but the sturdy clock barely broke.

To give it the smashed up look that they were after, the crew took hammers to it.

Despite them giving it a good pounding, it continued to play the song, just like in the film.

5. Foreign versions gave it very interesting titles

Ramis and the producers were a little bit concerned that, as most countries don't know what Groundhog Day is (and some may have no idea what a groundhog is), the film's premise may have been missed on many foreign audiences.

This proved not to be, as the film was a global success, but not all countries marketed it as 'Groundhog Day'.

Most Spanish and Portuguese language versions titled it Spell of Time or Caught in Time, while Brazil named it The Black Hole of Love; meanwhile in Sweden, the title translates as Monday the entire week - despite the movie not specifying which day of the week it took place on.

The German title is "Und täglich grüßt das Murmeltier", which can be translated as "... And Every Day Greets the Marmot" - the phrase then became a humorous proverb for when annoying or awkward things are frequently repeated.

4. Bill Murray's behaviour resulted in a 20-year falling-out between him and Harold Ramis

Bill Murray was going through a divorce at the time of filming and obsessed about the film, ringing director Harold Ramis constantly and at all hours of the night.

Ramis admitted that, during filming, his friend and Ghostbusters co-star was "really irrationally mean and unavailable".

Murray would often arrive late to set, throw tantrums and argue with Ramis about directorial choices, and after a while, a fed-up Ramis sent writer Danny Rubin to go over the script with the star.

Murray then refused to speak to Ramis altogether, a rift that - apart from one or two occasions - saw the pair not speak for over two decades.

The pair made up and buried the hatchet while Ramis was on his deathbed shortly before he passed away in 2014.

3. Bill Murray needed simple directing for his scenes

While he and Ramis were still speaking, when the director was trying to explain a scene to Murray, the actor would interrupt to ask: "Just tell me - good Phil or bad Phil?"

And that's how he would play the scene.

2. Harold Ramis took a vote from everyone on set about how the film should end

Murray and Andie MacDowell shot 25 takes for the closing scene where Phil wakes up with the time loop broken, as they couldn't decide whether the pair should be in their clothes or not.

Harold Ramis had everyone on set - cast and crew - vote as to how it should be played.

While it came down to a tie, the assistant set director argued that the magic of the film would be ruined if Phil appeared shirtless - indicating they had sex - which was enough for Ramis to consider that as the tie-breaking vote and had the pair waking up in their clothes.

1. The film almost had another twist

The first draft of Danny Rubin's screenplay had Phil waking up on 3rd February, having broken the time loop.

However, he discovers that Rita is trapped in a time loop of her own, having to the relive the 3rd over and over again.

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