"Jerry Maguire" had us at hello.
Released 20 years ago this week (on December 13, 1996), Cameron Crowe's sports-themed romantic dramedy gave us Tom Cruise at his most charming, made a star of Renée Zellweger, made an Oscar-winner of Cuba Gooding Jr. and generated at least three indelible catchphrases. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this '90s classic, here are some mission statement-worthy facts you need to know.
1. After the failure of his 1992 movie "Singles," Crowe felt like he learned who his true friends were. That feeling was the seed of his next film. "I originally wanted to do a movie that was about how you would arrive at your greatest success through incredible failure," Crowe has said of the "Jerry Maguire" script. One inspiration was a newspaper photo of an athlete and his agent, "They were two guys of very different sizes and loud shirts. But they were clearly two guys against the world."
2. Much of the inspiration for Jerry as a sports agent came from Leigh Steinberg, a real-life agent who served as a consultant on the film. You can see him in the movie as the man who introduces Jerry to Troy Aikman (a real-life Steinberg client). He'd have had a bigger role in the movie, playing Jerry's brother, who gives an unflattering toast at Jerry's bachelor party, but he didn't want to come off as a villain. "To this day, I may be the only actor who ever talked his way out of a scene with Tom Cruise," he claims. 3. He also claims to have taught Jerry O'Connell, as aspiring NFL quarterback Frank Cushman, how to throw a spiral.
4. Similarly, Crowe based Rod Tidwell loosely on Tim McDonald, a San Francisco 49er who once walked the media floor with Steinberg the way Jerry and Rod do in the movie.
5. Crowe has also credited McDonald with coining the phrase "Show me the money."
6. Crowe spent nearly four years writing and revising the script, all the while with Tom Hanks in mind for the lead. But Hanks was committed to directing and starring in "That Thing You Do."
7. Cruise was Crowe's next choice, though he'd been told the A-lister wouldn't want to play a struggling loser. "In fact," Crowe learned, "he was dying to play someone who was on the ropes."
8.Connie Britton screen tested for the role of Dorothy and was led to believe she'd nailed the audition. But there was still one more actress the producers wanted to see, and that turned out to be Renée Zellweger. Britton has joked that she probably lost the part because she's too tall for Tom Cruise.
9. Zellweger, then little-known, auditioned for Dorothy three times over the space of a month. Cruise was there for her final reading, and that made all the difference. Crowe videotaped the audition and saw Cruise reacting to Zellweger "in that great way that Spencer Tracy regards Katharine Hepburn. Just someone watching this person who, as it happens, was going to play a big part in his future life. And it was all there in the first moment."
10. Having begun his show business career as a breakdancer, Cuba Gooding, Jr. was also the right actor to perform Rod's end-zone dance, which was choreographed by Paula Abdul.
11. Gooding disarmed and won over Cruise and Crowe during his audition by performing the locker room scene naked as written. His high school football background gave him the chops to play Rod, though he also went through a week of training camp to prepare.
12. To prepare for the scene where she has to clock Cruise, Kelly Preston trained with celebrated boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.
13. To play Ray, Crowe wanted a child who didn't seem like a professional actor. But the one he hired didn't work out and had to be replaced after three weeks.
He hired a kid with a McDonald's ad on his résumé, Jonathan Lipnicki. The five-year-old and Cruise had a rapport, maybe because, as Lipnicki told Cruise at his audition, "Top Gun" was his favorite movie, one he'd seen 20 times. Lipnicki brought to the picture Ray's look (the spiky hair, the glasses) and the line about the human head weighing eight pounds.
14. Crowe wanted the director he admired most, Billy Wilder -- whose "The Apartment" was Crowe's model for the office romance between Jerry and Dorothy -- to play Dicky Fox, Jerry's mentor seen in flashbacks. Wilder, who was a sparkling conversationalist but not an actor, turned him down. Not even Cruise could talk him into taking the part. Crowe went instead with Jared Jussim, a top lawyer at Sony (the film's distributor) who had no acting experience.
15. No Cameron Crowe movie would be complete without some music-business cameos. There's Crowe's former boss, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, playing Jerry's boss at Sports Management International. That's the late Glenn Frey of the Eagles as the general manager of Rod's team, the Arizona Cardinals. Music video director Mark Pellington is the director of the commercial with the camel. And that's Alice in Chains frontman Jerry Cantrell as the guy at the copy shop who helps Jerry print his notorious mission statement.
16. We see very little of that mission statement on screen, but Crowe really did write all 27 pages of it. He posted it online a few months ago here. (It is also on the film's first special edition DVD.)
17. Life Imitates Art moment: Shortly after Gooding filmed the "Are you Hootie?" scene, a fan in an airport really did mistake the actor for Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker. By the way, in Spain, the line is dubbed, "Are you Ice-T?" because Rucker and his band weren't that famous there.
18. As you would expect in a movie about athlete endorsements, product placement runs rampant in "Jerry Maguire," with some 25 retailers' merchandise getting prominent screen time. But then there was Reebok, which spent $1.5 million on placement, including a commercial starring Rod.
That got cut from the film, and all that was left was Rod's rant criticizing the shoe company. Reebok sued the studio for $10 million for breach of contract, a suit that was settled out of court. Rod's Reebok ad was restored to the film in TV broadcasts and on the Special Edition DVD.
19. The movie cost a reported $50 million to make. It earned back $154 million in North America and another $120 million abroad.
20. "Jerry Maguire" was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Editing. It won for Best Supporting Actor, a moment that saw Gooding accept his trophy by doing Rod's end-zone breakdance.
21. Of all the quotes in the movie that became pop-culture staples, Crowe was surprised that the idea of "the kwan" did not become as quotable. He really thought that one was gonna take off.