It’s been 30 years since “Dead Poets Society” hit theaters and showed the world that Robin Williams could do drama just as well as comedy. It’s a film whose legacy has only grown with time, so stand on your desk, pay your respects and learn some fun facts about the making of this classic coming-of-age drama.1. While Welton Academy is a fictional institution, writer Tom Schulman based the film on his own experiences at Tennessee’s Montgomery Bell Academy. Keating himself is inspired by Schulman’s former teacher, University of Connecticut professor Samuel F. Pickering, Jr.2. The movie was filmed on location at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware. Simon Mein, who plays the vicar at Welton Academy, was actually the vicar of St. Andrew’s at the time of filming.
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3. Liam Neeson was originally expected to star, but the role instead went to Robin Williams after original director Jeff Kanew was replaced by Peter Weir.4.Dustin Hoffman was once attached to both direct and star in the film, but Hoffman eventually dropped out of the project.
5. Other actors considered for the John Keating role include Mel Gibson, Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray and Mickey Rourke.6. The original screenplay includes a death scene where Keating succumbs to leukemia in a hospital, but Weir opted not to include it in the film, wanting the focus to remain on Keating’s students.
7. The scene featuring Ethan Hawke’s Todd crying outside in the snow had to be done in one take. This is because the scene was originally meant to be shot indoors, but Weir decided to take advantage of a fleeting snowstorm outside the set.8. In order to help get his young actors into character, Weir had them all board together during filming and shoot in chronological order, so that their relationships would develop naturally over the course of production.
9.Lara Flynn Boyle originally had a role in the film, but her character was cut from the final version. According to Boyle, she didn’t find out about being cut until the day the film premiered.10. The film turned out to be an unexpected success for Disney. It became the first film released under the Touchstone Pictures label to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and it also out-grossed “The Little Mermaid” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” on the global box office in 1989.
11. A stage adaptation of “Dead Poets Society” ran off-Broadway from October through December 2016. Jason Sudeikis starred as John Keating.
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