In 1975, Jaws debuted in American movie theaters. It was THE original summer blockbuster film, and was the highest grossing film ever to that point (later surpassed by Star Wars and other films). The film was chock full of great actors, great lines, a lovely location, and a truly terrifying villain. The film still holds up very well today. Below are some unusual facts about Jaws that you should know.
1. ‘Jaws’ Was Not the Original Title
Author Peter Benchley thought about the title of the book for months. He thought of a few and quickly rejected them: The Stillness in the Water, A Silence in the Deep, Jaws of Death, Leviathan Rising. In the final meeting with his editor on the book, the only word they could agree on was….Jaws. It was nice and short, and it fit on the cover, so they decided on it.
2. Roy Scheider Was Hired By Accident
Steven Spielberg was searching for an unknown actor for the role, but the studio wanted a big name. Scheider’s agent introduced him to Spielberg at a party, just as he was talking about the story of the movie to a friend. Scheider was interested, and said “That’s a great story. How about me?”
3. Lee Marvin Was Wanted for the Quint Role
Lee Marvin didn’t want the role; he said that he preferred to fish in real life, not on film. The producer of the film suggested Robert Shaw, who enjoyed the actor in The Sting. Spielberg watched a few old Shaw films and then decided to hire Shaw.
4. The Boat Really Started To Sink!
Shaw, Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss were on the boat with a soundman when there was a malfunction and the boat began to leak. The boat driver tried to get the boat back to the shore before it sank. Spielberg had another boat go out to get them and said, ‘get the actors off the boat!’ The soundman held up a sign that said, ‘F#$# the actors, save the soundman!”
5. The Indianapolis Speech Was Altered by Shaw
Shaw had the idea to take the gold cap off his front tooth when he and Dreyfuss are comparing their scars. Shaw also did a major rewrite of the Indianapolis speech. Dreyfuss later said that his onscreen fascination with the speech was real; he called the speech ‘one of the most riveting things I’d ever seen or heard.”
6. Spielberg Didn’t Like John Williams’ Score At First
When Spielberg first heard the music on a piano, he thought it was just a joke; it was just too simple. But he asked Williams to play it a few more times, and he knew that it sounded right. The Jaws score is now one of the most recognized in the history of American cinema.
7. They Thought About Training a Live Shark
The idea of building a mechanical shark was quite challenging in the mid-1970s, so the production crew really considered trying to train a live shark. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed and they succeeded in building a (semi) functional mechanical shark.
8. Mayor Vaughn Was Attacked By a Skunk
The actor, Murray Hamilton, was walking home after a shoot one night. He was attacked by a skunk when he tried to pet it; he thought it was a cat. His clothes had to be incinerated.
9. The Ben Gardner Character Inspired Quint
The actor that played Ben Gardner was a Martha’s Vineyard fisherman named Craign Kingsbury, and he was one of the major inspirations for the Quint character.
10. Scheider Wasn’t The Real Rookie On The Water
In reality, Richard Dreyfuss had never been on a boat in his life until the shooting of Jaws.