Just a few years ago, the idea that so many people would be hotly anticipating a movie like Glass was unthinkable for two reasons. First off, longtime fans of Unbreakable, a movie with a cult following that came out in 2000, had no idea that film would receive a sequel all these years later. On top of that, it was with the release of Split, a movie that exists in the same movie universe as Unbreakable, that people began to have real faith in M. Night Shyamalan making good films again.
Even though the majority of film sequels that take a long time to come out fall short of expectations, Split proved Shyamalan had a vision of where to take the Unbreakable film series. Released over a span of 19 years, a lot of fascinating things went on behind the scenes during the making of Unbreakable, Glass, and Split. With that in mind, it is time to look at some crazy things that went on behind the scenes of this unexpected trilogy.
In order for a piece of information to be considered for possible inclusion in this list, it must, first and foremost, relate to the making of Unbreakable, Split, or Glass. On top of that, something about it needs to be astonishing enough to hold the interest of the series' fans. Of course, it should be noted that every person’s knowledge base is different, so huge fans may be aware of some things to come.
Here are 20 Wild Details Behind The Making Of the Unbreakable Movies.
20 Split's ending wasn't shown to test screenings
Always known for including massive twists in his films, M. Night Shyamalan returned to form with the final surprising moments of his 2016 movie Split. After the film had seemingly come to an end, the camera panned to Bruce Willis in a diner among a group of people that were discussing news coverage of the movie’s events.
Revealing through dialogue that Willis was reprising his character from the 2000 film Unbreakable, David Dunn only appeared onscreen for a matter of seconds but it was the most exciting thing Willis had done in years. Of course, this moment would have been a lot less effective if people knew about it ahead of time. Fortunately, Shyamalan was smart enough to exclude this moment from Split’s test screenings in order to keep it a secret.
19 Julianne Moore Was The First Choice To Play Audrey
The second major movie of M. Night Shyamalan career, Unbreakable fell short of expectations since it made far less money than his previous film, The Sixth Sense. Despite that, the movie went on to amass a loyal cult following that loved its restrained take on a classic superhero tale.
One of the people who helped make the movie what it is, Robin Wright’s Unbreakable performance perfectly matched the films’ serious tone. That is why it is so remarkable that Wright was a last-minute replacement for the original actor cast in the role, Julianne Moore. Considering both actors are among the best performers of their generation, replacing Moore, who left Unbreakable in order to star in Hannibal, with Wright was a stroke of genius.
18 Sarah Paulson and Bruce Willis Signed On To Glass With No Script
Though far from the toast of Hollywood before Split ’s release, M. Night Shyamalan had reclaimed some respect due to his previous effort The Visit. Prior to that, he’d helmed one panned film after another, including Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth.
The perfect example of how Split’s success has changed Shyamalan’s fortunes, when he attempted to cast people in his follow-up film, two major stars were chomping at the bit to be involved. In fact, Bruce Willis and Sarah Paulson both signed on to star in Glass, his sequel to Split and Unbreakable, without even reading its script.
17 The Original Edit of Split Was Crazy Long
If you enjoy watching deleted scenes from movies then you know how important the editing process is. After all, editors can greatly reshape a film’s narrative and many fantastic films were made great because they cut several abysmal scenes from their runtime. On top of that, filmgoers are willing to sit through long films but if they can feel that filmmakers are unnecessarily dragging things out, they are going to lose their patience before too long.
For that reason, it is astonishing to know that Split’s original edit was 3 hours long. It makes you wonder if Split would have been the surprise hit it turned out to be if they hadn’t cut it down to its final 117-minute length.
16 Joaquin Phoenix was the first choice for Kevin
One of the most celebrated actors of all time, Joaquin Phoenix has won a Golden Globe and a Grammy, along with nominations at the SAG awards, the Oscars and the BAFTAs. More importantly than that, he has starred in many beloved films like Gladiator, Walk the Line, Signs, Her, and more. With all of that in mind, we are always happy to see his name announced in relation to a film project.
However, it turned out to be a good thing that Phoenix walked away from starring in Split, even though he likely would have been great in the film. After all, James McAvoy’s Split performance blew viewers away and we wouldn’t have been able to see it if Phoenix hadn’t given up the film’s lead role.
15 Sterling K. Brown's scenes were cut from Split
As we touched on in a previous entry, at one point Split was a staggering 3 hours long. It was eventually released with a much shorter runtime, but much of the footage cut from the final film featured a character played by one of the today’s rising stars, Sterling K. Brown.
Currently best known for starring in the hit shows The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story and This is Us, Brown also appeared in the movie Black Panther. Just because he has accomplished so much does not mean he doesn’t understand disappointment, however. It must feel awful to have a character you worked hard to create go mostly unseen.
14 James McAvoy knew early on that Split was a sequel to Unbreakable
Earlier on this list, we touched on the fact that M. Night Shyamalan kept Split’s connection to his previous film Unbreakable a closely guarded secret. However, he obviously needed to put his trust in at least one actor, Bruce Willis, since he used his Split cameo appearance to set up the fact that both movies exist in the same universe.
Opting to let another actor in on his big secret, Shyamalan told Entertainment Weekly that Split’s lead actor James McAvoy was told about the twist ending before starring in the film. “Oh yeah, he knew from the beginning. And he was pumped. He was like, ‘Oh, man, I might get to do another movie with Bruce? My God!’”
13 The Twist in the Beast's beliefs
One of the most unique aspects of Split’s plot is that the main villain, The Beast, has a set of beliefs that will come as a surprise to many moviegoers. As M. Night Shyamalan revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, this is the case because The Beast’s philosophy, that people become pure through pain, is a twist on a classic movie trope.
As any passionate horror film fan can tell you, many scary movie characters get dispatched after they are intimately involved with someone else. From a storytelling point of view, as Shyamalan put it that sends the message that now those people are “broken” and “not whole.” While The Beast’s way of thinking has nothing to do with physical relations, he does believe that trauma makes people stronger, which is a huge difference.
12 Elijah Price was written for Samuel L. Jackson
One of the Unbreakable franchise's greatest strengths is its many fantastic characters. As much as we love David Dunn, Kevin Crumb, and Casey Cooke, however, another character stands head and shoulders above the res. Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price, otherwise known as Mr. Glass, was afflicted with an awful genetic disorder that made his bones easy to break. Due to his physical fragility, most Unbreakable viewers wanted Elijah to stay safe, cringed when he suffered a catastrophic injury, and were astonished when his true nature was revealed.
Perfectly cast in the role, Jackson’s wonderful performance as Mr. Glass turns out to be no coincidence since Shyamalan told Entertainment Weekly he wrote the character with hopes the actor would play him.
11 James McAvoy Broke His Hand While Shooting
As anyone who has seen Split can attest, James McAvoy did not hold anything back while portraying his character in the movie. However, while watching that film you’d never know that his passion for the role exacted a physical toll on the talented actor since he suffered an injury while in character.
Speaking about the incident, McAvoy said: “I was meant to punch a metal door but it had a little square bit in it which was soft, and I missed the soft bit and hit the hard bit. Night said he watched the take where I broke it, and he said you can see my face go white and I am like, ‘Zone it out, zone it out, man’, and I carried on with the take.”
10 Shyamalan's big payday for Unbreakable
Shyamalan's career was on fire by the time Unbreakable came out. At the time, some people were suggesting he could be the next Steven Spielberg. Considering those expectations were so lofty, it isn’t surprising that Shyamalan has yet to live up to them, but he has accomplished many things during his career, including some hefty paydays.
For instance, he managed to be paid $10 million to make his second major movie. It's an astonishing number on the face of things, but that figure makes more sense when looked at in context. His salary needs to be split in half as he was paid that sum for two jobs, writing and directing the film.
9 Samuel L. Jackson Had No Idea Split Was Connected to Unbreakable Either
Even though Samuel L. Jackson is a star of both Unbreakable and Glass, he had no idea about Split’s surprise cameo in advance. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell there weren’t any cameras present to record Jackson’s reaction when he saw his multiple time co-star Bruce Willis appear in that film.
That said, the way in which Jackson found out about this closely kept secret is known. He was instructed by M. Night Shyamalan to set up a private screening of Split for himself. Shyamalan also asked Jackson to “call me when it’s over.” We can only imagine how animated that conversation became.
8 Shyamalan Always Planned to Make a Trilogy
Ever since Unbreakable’s release in the year 2000, there have been many people that wanted to see more of this cinematic universe. In fact, for years on end, there were rumors that the powers that be were considering making an Unbreakable sequel. However, unless you paid attention to the interviews that Shyamalan, Willis, and Jackson have given over the years, you may not realize that they always thought they were going to make a trilogy.
Of course, just because those three men alluded to that possibility over that time period does not mean there were any concrete plans to make this film franchise a reality until recently.
7 Anya Taylor-Joy Improvised a Major Moment from Split
Whether you are an M. Night Shyamalan fan or not, it is hard to deny that the guy is passionate about the films he makes. He works as a director, producer, writer, and even an actor on most of his films, which may make it seem like Shyamalan needs to exert control on all aspects of his projects. Despite that, Split actor Anya Taylor-Joy revealed that she improvised a moment from Split in which her character lost it, at the climax of the film.
Speaking of the scene, Taylor-Joy said “that wasn’t scripted. I got to the end of that tunnel and I just started screaming” and “it felt good to scream as her.”
6 The David Dunn Reveal in Split Was Almost a Post-Credits Scene
For a long time, the vast majority of movies had their credits play before the film started. That's no longer the case today, but modern directors have come up with a new way to get people to sit through the credits. Seen more and more often, year after year, post-credits scenes have inspired many filmgoers to stick around their theaters until a movie’s final moment are projected.
This is apparently a trend that Shyamalan strongly considered adopting when he made Split. True to its twist on the superhero movie, Shyamalan told Entertainment Weekly he put serious thought into making the scene in which Bruce Willis cameoed a post-credits sequence.
5 Shyamalan Wrote Unbreakable While Working on The Sixth Sense
Prior to directing The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan had only worked on a handful of films. In fact, before he completed his breakout film, Shyamalan resume was comprised of polishing the script for She’s All That and directing a pair of independent movies. Despite that, he felt confident enough that he wrote Unbreakable’s script while working on The Sixth Sense.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in the year 2000, Shyamalan said: ”I wrote the new one in postproduction and during the release of ‘Sixth Sense.’” While many professional writers work on several projects at the same time, it's still surprising that Shyamalan’s mind wasn’t laser-focused on The Sixth Sense at all stages of its production.
4 Unbreakable Was Filmed in Sequence
While movies are art, movie studios are businesses-- so they understandably cut corners in terms of budget wherever they can. For that reason, it is an industry norm that movies shoot scenes wildly out of order, even though it seems like that could be confusing, especially for actors. As a result, many stars have told anecdotes of shooting a film’s final moments within their first few days working on a movie set.
Unusually enough, however, during Unbreakable’s production they actually shot the movie in chronological order. This must have felt weird but great for everyone involved, helping the actors follow their characters' arcs.
3 Sarah Paulson Cried When She Was Cast in Glass
Unlike her former costar Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson’s performance in the Unbreakable film franchise was not cut out. Cast as Glass’ most high-profile new character, Dr. Ellie Staple, Paulson was very excited to work on the film that she had a huge reaction to be given the role.
In fact, while talking about M. Night Shyamalan, Paulson said: “when he finally called me and said, 'I want you to do the movie', I burst into tears:, Reflecting on that moment, she went to say “for all I knew, I was bursting into tears about a movie I was going to have one scene in.”
2 Disney Let David Dunn Appear in Split for Free
Although many people don’t realize it, Unbreakable is owned by the Walt Disney Company and the movie was released by an entity owned by that entertainment conglomerate. As a result, Disney owns the rights to that movie’s characters. Since Split was released by another company, Shyamalan needed to get permission to feature a cameo by Bruce Willis’ character.
Fortunately for M. Night Shyamalan, Disney allowed Willis’ character, David Dunn, to appear in Split for free. However, Walt Disney Company did demand a piece of the pie if a Split and Unbreakable sequel was made, and likely expects a nice payday with the release of Glass.
1 Split’s Main Character Was in the Original Script for Unbreakable
According to M. Night Shyamalan, Split’s main character almost made it to the big screen a long time ago. "This character, Kevin from Split, was in the original script of Unbreakable. The original draft of Unbreakable focused on David Dunn and Elijah as his mentor. Elijah tells him, ‘You’re a comic book character, go try it.’ And instead of bumping into the Orange Suit Man, David bumps into one of Kevin’s personalities and goes to save the girls. So you’d have been watching the girls side of it the whole time. That was the outline.”
As much as we enjoyed Unbreakable, imagining that movie with Kevin in it is quite thought provoking. Glass will finally tell a version of the Beast and David Dunn's conflict.
Do you have any trivia to share about the Unbreakable movies? Let us know in the comments!