Director M. Night Shyamalan was catapulted to new career heights after the release of 1999’s The Sixth Sense, a movie which earned him a Best Director nomination on the 72nd Academy Awards. Then, Shyamalan followed up with critical and commercial hits such as Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), and The Village (2004).
Things started to take a turn during 2006’s Lady In The Water, which was followed by ill-received The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013).
However, by 2015, M. Night Shyamalan seemed to have regained his groove in the horror genre, with the release of the commercial hit The Visit. In 2016, Shyamalan released Split, which initially seemed like just another standalone movie from the director. Later, it was discovered that, as a matter of fact, Split was a quasi-sequel to 2000’s Unbreakable. In the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe, this was accepted by audiences, but it certainly marked the first time an independent universe of “superheroes” shared the same universe.
With the announcement of Glass for 2019 – the third film in the series – fans began referring to the franchise as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy, since Unbreakable’s David Dunn, Split’s Kevin, and Glass’ Mr. Glass all share a connection to the Eastrail 177 train disaster that took place in the original installment. As of now, Split remains the most influential film of the series, since it was responsible for revealing that a shared universe among these characters actually exists.
These are 20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of Split.
20 KEVIN IS BASED ON A REAL PERSON
Kevin may seem like a very well-crafted comic book and/or horror character that someone made up. However, little do audiences know that, in fact, Kevin was inspired by a real person.
A man by the name of Billy Milligan became the first person in the history of the United States to be acquitted of a crime based on a physiological condition. Billy suffered from what is now known as dissociative identity disorder (DID), also called “multiple personality disorder.”
After being admitted to a mental health facility in Ohio, Billy Milligan was diagnosed as having 24 personalities.
Sound familiar? It is no secret that Split’s Kevin was inspired by Billy Milligan, and more specifically by the Daniel Keyes book The Minds of Billy Milligan.
19 STERLING K. BROWN WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE
In 2018, Sterling K. Brown is a household name and a fully-fledged Hollywood star. The actor broke out on the television series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and This Is Us, but has since been featured in big-budget cinematic productions such as Black Panther and the upcoming The Predator and Frozen 2.
Before all of those roles, however, Sterling K. Brown had shot scenes for Split, where he was going to play Shaw, a neighbor to Dr. Fletcher. Ultimately, M. Night Shyamalan felt that the scenes with Shaw were unnecessary to the film’s overall narrative, and decided to cut them. On the other hand, these scenes were featured in the deleted scenes section of the movie’s Blu-ray/DVD.
18 JOAQUIN PHOENIX WAS ORIGINALLY CAST AS KEVIN
Once upon a time, Kevin was going to be portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix. Speaking about the matter, M. Night Shyamalan said that at the time that Split was going to start shooting, Phoenix was unavailable.
Ironically, James McAvoy was also unavailable to shoot the film at the time.
However, it appears that McAvoy suddenly became available later, as he “shifted commitments with other directors and other films.” Shyamalan also revealed that he first met McAvoy at a Comic-Con, which made him realize that he was perfect for the role of Kevin.
It is important to note that, in 2016, when Split was released, Joaquin Phoenix did not release a movie. On the other hand, James McAvoy promoted both Split and X-Men Apocalypse that year.
17 THE DIRECTOR’S CUT IS 3 HOURS LONG
Split is the type of movie that covers a lot of bases while still leaving audiences with numerous questions about the characters in it. Well, it certainly seems like the film’s 117 minutes leave some mysteries unresolved, especially when you are aware that the movie’s original cut was about three hours long.
Somewhere, out there, M. Night Shyamalan holds a director’s cut of Split that runs for three hours. Despite the fact that the director is not particularly known for preferring very long movies – like Zack Snyder and Martin Scorsese are famous for – he no doubt seemed very interested to tell Kevin’s story and had to make tough decisions about what was left in the final cut.
16 THE CONNECTION BETWEEN KEVIN AND PROFESSOR X
The only movies that are part of Split's universe are Unbreakable and the upcoming Glass. However, there is a very interesting real-life connection that can be drawn between Kevin and the X-Men’s Professor X.
For one, they are both played by actor James McAvoy, and they were both seen on the big screen in 2016 (the year Split and X-Men: Apocalypse came out).
However, there is yet another interesting tidbit: Professor X has a son who, like Kevin, has dissociative identity disorder.
Legion, who is the son of Charles Xavier, clearly struggles with DID the same way that Kevin does.
In the television series Legion, fans can see the character deal with very different problems than Kevin did in Split, but their mental conditions share various similarities.
15 SHYAMALAN DOESN’T CONSIDER SPLIT A SEQUEL
During an interview with Empire Magazine, M. Night Shyamalan was point-blank asked if he saw Split as an Unbreakable 2. The director answered: “However you want to look at it. Maybe it’s a new format. This movie, this movie, and a final movie. However you want to look at it.”
During many interviews, it has become clear that he sees the Eastrail 177 Trilogy as more of a shared universe rather than a sequence of three films. In that way, this franchise is more akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe than to traditional cinematic trilogies.
While it is certainly a new concept to bring the shared universe concept to the horror genre, it is not entirely a new thing. Movies such as 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason had already crossed-over different properties, and The Conjuring universe has spun connected films such as Annabelle and The Nun.
14 KEVIN WAS GOING TO BE IN UNBREAKABLE
]Shyamalan has spoken at length about how he conceived the idea for Kevin during the same time that he was working on Unbreakable. Well, that’s no coincidence. As a matter of fact, Kevin was going to be featured in Unbreakable,.
Ultimately, his scenes were cut from the script in order to focus more on David Dunn and Mr. Glass.
Instead, Shyamalan decided that Kevin deserved to have his story told in full, which is how Split came about so many years later.
In a way, Split was a movie 16 years in the making, which is the span of time that passed between Unbreakable and Split. With Mr. Glass being released in 2019, the franchise will have spanned almost two decades.
13 JAMES MCAVOY GOT INJURED DURING FILMING
It is not uncommon for actors to get injured while shooting a movie, particularly when their roles require a lot of physically demanding scenes. Thus, it comes as no surprise that James McAvoy got injured while filming Split.
Speaking on the matter, the actor said, “I was meant to punch a door. It was a metal door, but it had a little square bit in it that was soft and I, of course, missed the soft bit and hit the hard bit.” Ultimately, he broke his hand – an injury that persisted for a long while.
After filming Split, James McAvoy went on to shoot 2017’s Atomic Blonde, and he underwent all of that production with a broken hand. The injury can be seen throughout the movie.
12 ONE OF KEVIN’S PERSONALITY IS AN EASTER EGG
Signs is not part of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy shared universe, but that does not mean that M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t take the opportunity to squeeze in a reference to one of his previous movies, right?
In Split, Kevin has 24 personalities, many of which we never actually meet. However, during a scene in which Kevin is cataloging his personalities on his computer, audiences can clearly see that one of the personalities goes by name of Mr. Pritchard. Sound familiar?
Lionel Pritchard, otherwise known as Mr. Pritchard, was a very important character in Signs, released two years after Unbreakable.
While this is not evidence that there is a possibility that Signs shares the Eastrail 177 Trilogy continuity, it is certainly an Easter egg worth noting.
11 KEVIN’S LAST MEMORY HAS A REAL-LIFE CONNECTION
In Split, Kevin reveals that his last memory is from September 18th, 2014. This seems like a very specific date that bears no significance to Unbreakable and is not mentioned ever again during Split. So what was the connection there, you may wonder?
Well, in the real world, September 18th, 2014 was a very significant day for Scotland. That day, Scotland voted to decide whether it would “split” from the United Kingdom. In the end, Scotland voted against it (55% against 44% of the votes).
So what does that have to do with Split, besides the little pun? James McAvoy, who plays Kevin, is a Scottish actor. In 2014, James remained mostly silent about whether he was in favor or against the split.
10 THE SPLIT POSTER GAVE AWAY ITS CONNECTION TO UNBREAKABLE
It now seems like an obvious, in-your-face kind of thing. However, that was not the case back in 2016.
Like Unbreakable's poster, the Split poster had a design featuring cracked glass.
In hindsight, it is easy for one to see that the Split and Unbreakable posters are totally, one hundred percent connected, which means that the connection between both films was already being teased, and it completely went over everyone's heads.
However, as David Dunn appeared at the end of Split, most audience members were still completely shocked, because that connection was not expected whatsoever.
The official Glass poster has been released and breaks from the tradition in Unbreakable and Split. However, the poster does bring David Dunn, Kevin, and Mr. Glass together, which will be one of the highlights of that film.
9 THE FINAL BRUCE WILLIS SCENE WAS ORIGINALLY CUT
The final scene of Split, which features Unbreakable’s David Dunn in a diner, was kept a secret for as long as M. Night Shyamalan was allowed. As a matter of fact, the director went as far as removing that final scene when he showed the film to test audiences.
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Shyamalan explicitly said that Bruce Willis “was a secret from everybody. I didn’t test the movie with the ending. I just tested it without it.”
Thus, despite the fact that the poster of Split already shared a major similarity to the poster of Unbreakable, it is easy to see how audiences were not necessarily seeing what connection could exist among the two films.
8 “MR. GLASS” ARE THE LAST WORDS IN BOTH MOVIES
The last scene in Split consists of Bruce Willis as David Dunn saying “Mr. Glass.” Well, as it happens, “Mr. Glass” were also the last two words spoken in Unbreakable, meaning that both movies end with the same two words.
In Split, Mr. Glass was nowhere to be seen, but Shyamalan decided to have his presence loom over the movie’s last scene.
It comes as no surprise that the third installment in the Eastrail 177 franchise will be Glass, focusing on the character of Mr. Glass. Not only is this character automatically compelling due to being portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, but Mr. Glass is also an important character all on his own. He's the real highlight of Unbreakable.
7 KEVIN HAS 24 PERSONALITIES, BUT ONLY 8 ARE SHOWN
In total, Kevin Wendell Crumb has 24 personalities. However, only eight are shown in Split: Kevin, Hedwig, Barry, Dennis, Patricia, Jade, Orwell, and The Beast.
The 16 other personalities have the following names: Ansel, Bernice, B.T., Heinrich, Goddard, Norma, Luke, Polly, Rakel, Felicia, Jelin, Kat, Samuel, Ian, Mary Reynolds, and Mr. Pritchard.
In Glass, it is expected that this character will be mostly seen in the form of Kevin or The Beast. However, to please fans, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Hedwig and Patricia personalities make casual appearances, as they were standout characters in Split.
The recently released official poster of Glass shows the character in its full The Beast form, driving fans to believe that this will be his dominant personality in the film.
6 DIFFERENT STUDIOS OWN UNBREAKABLE AND SPLIT
It has become commonplace for superhero properties to face concerns that pertain to rights to a character. For example, Disney’s MCU has had to deal with the fact that Sony owns the film rights to Spider-Man, Fox holds the rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and Universal still has a say on standalone Hulk movies.
Ironically enough, the Eastrail 177 Trilogy had to deal with a similar issue, but the studios were much more amicable than they usually are. 2000’s Unbreakable was released by Disney whereas Split was released by Universal.
One can probably credit this ease to the fact that Unbreakable was not that massive of a commercial hit, meaning that Disney was sitting on that property with no plans to develop it further. When M. Night Shyamalan approached Disney about using David Dunn for Split, the studio had no problem allowing it.
5 SHYAMALAN BELIEVES IN DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER
It appears that the scientific community and professional psychologists share diverging opinions when it comes to the validity of dissociative identity disorder (DID).
Some professionals actually believe that this is a mental condition, whereas others are skeptical of its existence.
When it comes to director M. Night Shyamalan, he has expressed that he truly believes that dissociative identity disorder is a real thing. He is no doctor, but based on his reading about the subject in order to make Split, Shyamalan drew the conclusion that the condition is real.
Speaking on the matter, he has said, “What’s really interesting about this disorder is that it’s controversial. Even in the field, they’re saying, ‘I’m not sure any of this is legit.’ A lot of people. I believe in it, 100%.”
4 SPLIT WAS MADE FOR JUST $9 MILLION
The horror genre has gotten little love from Hollywood as of late, despite the recent success stories of Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring, Annabelle, Get Out, and Split. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the budget Split had to work with was a total of $9 million.
In Hollywood terms, this is a very low amount for a household-name director to produce a full-length feature film starring an A-list star such as James McAvoy.
However, Shyamalan somehow pulled it off, and proved that the horror genre can still move huge numbers. As of 2018, Split has made $138.3 million domestically, and a total of $278.4 around the world. Overall, the movie has grossed 30 times its budget, which is quite unusual.
3 THE DIRECTOR APPEARS IN THE MOVIE
Some directors decide to make little cameos in their movies, which typically go over the heads of most audience members who are not particularly knowledgeable of who directors are or how they look like. A recent and example was Taika Waititi, who directed Thor: Ragnarok and also played the character Korg.
However, in the case of Split, Shyamalan had a much smaller role in comparison to Taika Waititi’s Korg in Thor: Ragnarok.
In the film, Shyamalan can be seen as Jai, a security guard who appears very briefly.
It is important to note that M. Night Shyamalan also had very small roles in The Sixth Sense (as Dr. Hill), Unbreakable (an unnamed drug dealer), Signs (Ray Reddy), and The Village (an unnamed guard).
2 THE MOVIE WAS SHOT IN PHILADELPHIA, SHYAMALAN’S HOMETOWN
Split started filming in November of 2015. Just like Unbreakable, the shoot took place in Philadelphia, which is M. Night Shyamalan’s hometown. Glass was also filmed in Philly.
According to reports, Split filmed in the following locations in Philadelphia: the King of Prussia Mall, the Philadelphia Zoo, and the 30th Street Station. Moreover, the movie also took advantage of the city’s Sun Center Studios to film indoor scenes.
As a whole, M. Night Shyamalan is very interested in showcasing his hometown. His largest success, The Sixth Sense, also took place in Philadelphia. In addition, The Village was filmed in the countryside of Pennsylvania, which shows that the director is really committed to featuring his hometown and state as often as possible.
1 SHYAMALAN WROTE SPLIT FOR “HUMOR AND SUSPENSE”
Despite being a horror movie that shares somewhat of a superhero universe with Unbreakable’s David Dunn, Split also has many humorous moments, particularly when the personalities of Hedwig and Patricia take over Kevin’s body.
When speaking about the tones he wanted to explore in the Split screenplay, director M. Night Shyamalan said, “[The screenplay] sat there for a long time, and I really don’t have a clear reason why I didn’t pull the trigger earlier. But this felt like the perfect time to do it, with the type of movies I’m doing now, and the type of tones I am interested in – humor and suspense.”
Thus, in a way, Shyamalan sees Split not only as a superhero-like origin story, but also as a suspenseful and humorous movie.
Do you have any Split trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!