"That'll do, pig. That'll do."

It's been 20 years since the world fell in love with the sheep-herding pig at the center of the film "Babe," which opened August 4, 1995. The movie was hailed as a kids' movie that delighted viewers of all ages -- it was the rare children's film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar -- as well as an advance in effects magic that launched a wave of live-action, talking-animal flicks.

It's hard to imagine that the G-rated classic came from George Miller, the same filmmaker behind the ultra-violent, hard-R "Mad Max" franchise. That's one of many things you may not know about "Babe," here are 19 more:

1. In 1986, producer/co-screenwriter Miller became interested in the story during a long plane flight from Sydney to London, where the woman seated next to him was laughing uproariously at Dick King-Smith's book, "The Sheep-Pig." Upon landing, he found the book in a bookstore and immediately began negotiating with King-Smith for the rights, a process that ultimately took years.

2. Part of the reason it took nearly a decade to get the film made was British author King-Smith's objection to Miller's insistence on shooting the film in his native Australia. He told Miller, "Pigs don't fly, and neither do I."

3. The other reason it took so long: Miller was waiting for technology to catch up with his vision of putting live, talking animals on screen.

4. The animals were a combination of real critters trained by Californian Karl Lewis Miller (the animal trainer behind the "Beethoven" films and "Cujo"), the London-based Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and John Cox's Creature Shop in Australia, which built animatronic animals to match the real ones.

5. Karl Miller also appears in the film as the man who buys three puppies.
6. To make the animals talk, the filmmakers relied on computerized mouth movements developed by Los Angeles effects house Rhythm & Hues, best known for the talking cat in "Hocus Pocus" and the Coca-Cola polar bear ads.

7. There were 48 purebred, Large White Yorkshire pigs cast as Babe, since the filming was spread out over the course of three years, and the pigs kept outgrowing the role. All the Babes were female, since the male pigs' genitals were far too visible on screen.

8. Some 500 animals appear in the movie, though Karl Miller trained 970 of them -- not just pigs, but also dogs, cats, sheep, cows, horses, goats, ducks, mice, and pigeons.

9.Christine Cavanaugh, a voiceover actress best-known for playing Chuckie Finster on "Rugrats" and Dexter on "Dexter's Laboratory," voiced the role of Babe.

10. Magda Szubanski was one of Australia's most popular comic actors when she was cast as Esme Hoggett. She was only 34 at the time; make-up was used to age her 20 years.

11. Miller said at the time of the film's release, "Babe" cost $20 million to make, though some reports said $25 or $30 million. Even at the higher price, that sounds like an incredible bargain by today's standards.

12. The movie earned $64 million in North America and a total of $254 million worldwide.
13. Before starring as Farmer Arthur Hoggett in "Babe," James Cromwell was best known for playing Mr. Skolnick in the four "Revenge of the Nerds" movies. He was 55 when "Babe" gave him his big break -- and an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actor. He has said he almost decided not to take the role because it had only about 16 lines of dialogue, but a friend convinced him that the free trip to Australia would be worth it.

14. "Babe" was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (for Chris Noonan), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Miller and Noonan), Best Editing, and Best Art Direction. Best Supporting Actor nominee Cromwell reportedly spent $60,000 of his own money campaigning for the trophy. But the movie's only win was for Best Visual Effects.

15. The film was briefly banned in Malaysia. Some reports said it was because the Muslim country objected to a film about a pig, but actually, it was because the name "Babe" is considered vulgar there. Eventually, it was released there on VHS, bypassing theaters.

16. Cromwell, who was already a vegetarian, went the rest of the way and became a strict vegan and committed animal-rights activist after "Babe," His career prospered, with prominent roles in "Star Trek: First Contact," "L.A. Confidential," and "The Green Mile."

17. Cromwell, Szubanski, and most of the voice actors returned for the 1998 sequel, "Babe: Pig in the City." Cavanaugh declined to return and was replaced by her "Rugrats" castmate, Elizabeth Daily. Director Noonan also sat out the sequel, which George Miller directed and co-wrote. Many critics found it superior to the original, but the dark tone and occasional animal violence made families squeamish, and the film was a flop.

18.Cavanaugh died in 2014, at age 51, from undisclosed causes.

19. Chris Noonan's most recent feature film directing job was 2006's "Miss Potter," another movie involving anthropomorphic animals -- it was the biopic of children's author Beatrix Potter, starring Renee Zellweger.

20. After "Babe: Pig in the City," George Miller made another animal film -- the 2006 hit, "Happy Feet" -- followed by its 2011 sequel. These three films were his only releases over the last 20 years, until 2015's critically-acclaimed success "Mad Max: Fury Road."
categories Movies, Trivia