Mr. & Mrs. Smith became a stand-out among the typical espionage-focused action films. Though often compared to the popular couple spy movie True Lies, the film managed to hold its own by taking the concept into a more developed direction. From its conception, Mr. & Mrs. Smith was planned as a movie about a failing marriage that happened to be a spy flick. The mix of romance, comedy, and action created a story about one couple's journey to fix their relationship and (unknowingly) try to take each other out.
Both Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt brought the star power and action movie experience to the film, bringing the Smiths to life onscreen. Although the film did manage to run over budget, the box office sales from the film more than made up for the over expense. Running on a budget of $126 million, the worldwide box office total landed at over $487 million. The birth of “Brangelina” greatly overshadowed the movie both during filming and at release. Fans became more interested in the gossip surrounding the stars than the film itself. Sadly, several interviews and features focused only on the relationship and little on the movie itself. This legacy will always remain with the film for years to come.
Though several attempts have been made to extend the movie into an established franchise, the standalone film remains as the only glimpse into the life of John and Jane Smith. We will reveal more details behind the movie’s development, filming, and its future.
From the real-life inspirations for the film to the controversy over geographical misrepresentation, here are 21 Wild Details Behind the Making of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
21 Brad Pitt Dropped Out Because of His Co-star
The casting for Mr. & Mrs. Smith required two big-name Hollywood stars who would not only be believable as action stars but a married couple as well. Once the project was green-lit, their casting team landed on Oscar-winner star Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt to helm the film.
Unfortunately, Kidman could not keep the role. She ran into scheduling conflicts while filming for The Stepford Wives. All plans for the film came to a halt when she dropped out of the picture. Soon after, Pitt also declined to take part in the film, hoping to work with Kidman on the project. The cast directors had to start from scratch to find their second best choices for the romantic leads.
20 Gwen Stefani Almost Landed The Lead Role
It might be hard to imagine any other stars besides Jolie and Pitt playing the titular roles of the film. Between their onscreen chemistry and action movie experience, they became the perfect couple to play married spies. However, No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani shared with Vogue that her chances of getting the lead role were pretty good. She stated, “It was between me and Angelina Jolie, and I'm like, ‘Oh, great. I got a shot here.’”
She further elaborated on the experience on The Howard Stern Show: “I feel like I almost got it… I went to a bunch [of auditions] … [It was] very competitive and I wanted to do it, but I wanted to do music more."
19 Pitt came back to the movie because of Angelina Jolie
After Kidman and Pitt dropped out, the production team began their search alternatives for the roles. Director Doug Liman continued to search for an onscreen couple that would work best in the action film. Additional considerations for the parts included Catherine Zeta-Jones and Will Smith. Both stars had excellent backgrounds in action films and the star appeal to bring the audiences to the theaters.
Liman expanded his search to include other possible candidates. The coupling of Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett also became an option. However, the casting crew eventually landed on Angelia Jolie to play the role of Jane Smith. Thankfully, once her name became attached to the project, Pitt decided to come back to the cast.
18 Jolie was a Single Mom During Filming
One of the biggest stories surrounding Jolie’s personal life involved her marriage to actor Billy Bob Thornton. The couple married after only two months of dating and became one of the most unusual couples in Hollywood. Back in 2002, the couple jointly announced that they had decided to adopt a child. Jolie became the adoptive mother of seven-month-old orphan Maddox. Though this seemed to begin the start of their family together, the couple inevitably split three months later.
By the time the filming for Mr. & Mrs. Smith began, Jolie worked on the project as a single mother, given that they divorced back in 2003.
17 Jolie's failed marriages inspired her role
Jolie decided to join the cast of the film for very specific reasons. Although the $20 million paycheck may have also been a motivator, she claimed that certain aspects of the role itself motivated her to accept the offer. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she explained how her “two failed marriages” to actor Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton helped her to connect to the role. She said, “It was a study in partnership and the things that go wrong and the things we fight through,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s: Can they work as a team? And do they have each other’s back?”
In addition, she told Extra that Jane’s ability to be so closed off and detached, aspects of her own personality, added to her interest in playing the role.
16 Director Doug Liman Clashed With Jolie
The onset drama that took place behind the scenes was not limited to gossip about Jolie and Pitt’s relationship. Sometimes Jolie and director Doug Liman clashed on set due to conflicting options about a scene. He stated, "When I was shooting a scene on Mr. & Mrs. Smith and I had one idea of how the scene should play out... Angelina Jolie had a different idea. I said, ‘OK, we could sit here and argue, but we’re wasting time, let’s just shoot it both ways’. And she was like, ‘But, then you’ll just use your way, in the editing room.’ And I was like, well, I am the director. I might. But I’m going to use the way that’s actually best for the movie. I have no ego in this."
Clearly they worked it out, as the movie was a huge hit.
15 Brad Pitt paused filming to shoot Ocean's 12
The production of Mr. & Mrs. Smith did hit a few issues with filming. One of the major involved the budget. Given Liman’s laid-back direction style, there were times when last-minute changes would be made to a filming schedule or location. Sometimes, the change came due to the looming paparazzi and the possibility of their interrupting the shoot. On other occasions, Liman simply couldn’’ make up his mind on how he wanted a scene to be shot. These delays, however, ended up affecting Pitt on his next production, Ocean’s 12.
In fact, the Smith filming became so delayed that scheduling overlapped into the Ocean’s shoot. Pitt had to leave the set for three months to film for his next movie, halting production of the current movie until he returned. The delay only added to the budget of the film.
14 Jolie's Love Of Knives Helped With Filming
On occasion, an actor’s interest or hobbies outside of acting have helped in their performance onscreen. Some examples would be knowing how to ride horseback, ballroom dance, or even knowledge of martial arts. In the case of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jolie’s usual penchant for knives helped in her preparation to be an onscreen spy. She actually had quite a collection already, many weapons she had procured while in Cambodia.
Jolie even had a room in her home in the UK dedicated to their storage and display. She also admitted to Vanity Fair that she already knew how to throw them as well. It was the perfect skill for her onscreen battles-- kind of makes horseback riding a little less impressive, don’t you think?
13 Pitt and Jolie's On-Set Gun Competitions
In the film, Jane and John Smith work for rival companies and have been assigned to eliminate one another. Their competitiveness to succeed in this task resulted in some amazing confrontations and action scenes. That same rivalry existed between Jolie and Pitt as they filmed the movie. Both stars took lessons in gun training to perfect their portrayal of seasoned spies.
Jolie explained “We went to gun training, which is actually one of the most dangerous things two actors can do. We would go to rifle ranges and actually compete with each other.” In addition, they use live ammunition in their gunplay, so the two stars learned how to work together effectively, helping them learn to trust one another.
12 Angelina Performed The Window Jump Stunt Herself
When faced with complicated stunt work and action sequences, some stars have no problem with taking a backseat and letting profession stunt workers take over. However, some actors just like to challenge themselves with completing their own stunts, adding to their credibility as an action star.
During one iconic, Jolie escaped a hotel room by taking a 40-story leap out of a window. She spoke about the scene with The Today Show: "I happened to get this stunt that suited me. But, yeah, I was a little unsure about something the first time I went down and my coat flew off and I thought, “Oh, I have no pants on. I have no pants on and there's just a crowd of people on the floor.”
11 There Were Over 40 Different Endings Written For The Film
Although the overall development of the script for Mr. & Mrs. Smith had been completed long before production started, director Liman seemed unhappy with the way it ended. He gathered a team of writers to create numerous alternate endings for the film-- as many as 50 endings.
Though this may seem a bit extreme, the director has actually become known for such over-the-top actions. According to The LA Times, he built a set for the movie using his own money in his mother’s garage in NY. After filming concluded, he destroyed it with a hand grenade. However, in the case of Mr. and Mrs. Smith's ending, Limon's extreme measure didn’t pan out. They decided to keep the ending as described in the original script.
10 Paparazzi Had To be Digitally Removed From The Film
Due to its A-list Hollywood headliners and the rumors of an on-set romance, the paparazzi kept a close eye on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Flocking to any on-location filming, the cameras would follow the stars’ every move. Although the actors are used to such intense scrutiny, the presence of the paparazzi actually affected the filming of the movie.
Producer Akiva Goldsman shared with the New York Post that, “There were armies of paparazzi lining the highway... It was impossible to stop them.” The problem became so bad that some of the press made it into the movie unintentionally. In fact, it was reported that the paparazzi had to be “digitally removed” from the final version of the film.
9 The Failed TV Spin-Off
The box office success of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, along with praise from critics and audiences led producers to find new ways to expand on the franchise. Several attempts were made to bring the spy vs. spy marriage to more viewers via television.
In 2007, the series was put to pilot for ABC, with Simon Kinberg returning as writer and Liman stepping back into the director role. The show would take place six months after the conclusion of the movie. Instead of Jolie and Pitt, the roles of the lead characters were played by Jordana Brewster and Martin Henderson. However, the charisma of the original film didn’t transfer to the TV series. In the end, ABC decided not to commission the series, resulting in only the unsold pilot being produced.
8 The Ideas For The Sequel Just Weren't Good Enough
Given the success of the original film and the added fame due to it being the origin of “Brangelina,” the popularity of Mr. & Mrs. Smith soared. Even after its debut, fans wanted to see the new Hollywood couple portray the characters again. Plans began to move the single film into a franchise with a sequel being developed to continue the Smiths’ story. Unfortunately, writers could not develop a story that met with its stars’ approval.
Jolie shared the details of the sequel that never came to fruition: “We did ask somebody to look into Mr. & Mrs. to see if they could crack a sequel, but there wasn’t anything original. It was just, 'Well, they’re going to get married, or they’ve got kids, or they get separated.' Never great.”
7 Keeping Up with the Joneses
In 2010, Regency Enterprises invested in developing a prequel to the original movie. With its development coming five years after the release of the original movie, the new project would not involve the original stars. In addition, the only member of the original production team to join the project would be returning producer Akiva Goldsman.
Titled Keeping Up with The Joneses, the film would explore how the lives of the two spies after graduating from agency training. However, details for the project ceased after the initial announcement. In 2016, a film by the same name released from 20th Century Fox. Although the film bore similarities to the original project, with married couples working as spies, the film did not have any connections to the original movie.
6 The First Original Ending
The determination of director Liman to find the perfect ending for the film results in countless 40+ endings being produced. Thanks to the team of writers assigned to the task, the production team had many alternate ending to test out. Although the original conclusions in the script seemed satisfactory, Liman wanted to explore his options for the best conclusion to the spy flick.
With the characters of John and Jane finally deciding to work together, Liman considered having the two spies finally confront the “villains” behind the entire scheme. One of the original endings of the series involved them finally facing their enemies, played by actress Jacqueline Bisset (also Jolie’s godmother) and actor Terence Stamp. In the end, this version of the ending was scrapped.
5 Carrie Fisher Was One Of The Writers
For many fans, the onscreen fame of Carrie Fisher hit its peak when she played Princess Leia in the Star Wars movie franchise. Although this became her most recognizable role of her film career, Fisher actually had an extensive role in Hollywood that stretched beyond the acting realm. Her writing career also played a significant part in her showbiz career.
Not only did she writing the semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge, but she had an extensive career in screenplay doctoring. She wrote for several famous films-- many uncredited-- including Hook, Coyote Ugly, Sister Act, and Scream 3. In fact, Fisher actually served as one of the writers recruited to create one of 40+ ending written for Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
4 The Voice Only Parts
In yet another attempt to conclude the film, Liman decided to replace the original villains with two other stars. In place of Bisset and Stamp, he employed Angela Bassett and Keith David. Their official inclusion in the series was even announced, with their additions coming at the end of the movie’s production. Even though the characters were filmed for their scenes, their appearance never made it out of the cutting room.
In an interview with EW, Liman explained, “It was important to not give it that resolution. Because if you think about a relationship, there is no point at which you suddenly defeat the forces of antagonism.” Only the voices of the two stars remained in the film as the rival bosses.
3 Getting Bogotá all wrong
In the film, audiences witnessed the couple’s first meeting while on a trip to Bogotá, Columbia. They shared an immediate attraction upon meeting and eventually fell in love and married soon after. Although the setting appeared to be the perfect setting for their budding romance, the backdrop for their love story came under heavy criticism.
The film’s depiction of Bogotá made the city appear to be a small city in the jungle. In reality, the capital city is heavily urbanized with a population over 7 million. Then-Mayor of Bogotá Luis Eduardo Garzón and the national leader both criticized the film for its inaccurate depiction of their city. They even sent a letter to Liman and producer Arnon Milchan expressing their concerns.
2 The Idea Originated From Real-Life Marriage Therapy
The idea for the script for the film came from a personal source for screenwriter Simon Kinberg. He came up with the idea not from previous romance spy flicks, but from real-life situations. He didn't have friends working in espionage, but he did have a few who experienced some rocky issues in their marriage.
According to an article in the Omaha World-Herald, Kinberg stated that the discussions of two friends about marriage counseling triggered the early concept of the movie. He explained, “The way they were talking about it sounded kind of aggressive and mercenary… And I just thought it would make an interesting template for a relationship inside of an action film." That’s a pretty creative leap from marriage counseling to mercenaries for hire.
1 The Original Script was Kinberg's Thesis for His MFA
Kinberg, who was born in London, England, came to the US to complete his higher education. He attended Brown University and graduated magna cum laude with a degree focus on film and literature. For his masters, he switched to Columbia University to obtain an MFA. During this time in school, he began working on the storyline for Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Interestingly, the development of the script had a significant impact on his education.
The Guardian reported that the screenplay for the film became his “final thesis project” for his degree. In addition to finding inspiration from his friends’ experiences, he also became motivated by Hong Kong action movies. He shared that such films “were cool, sleek... and kinetic, and all that became the impetus and framework for my original draft."
Do you have any other trivia to share about Mr. & Mrs. Smith? Let us know in the comments!