From casino heists to playing poker in wild west saloons, gambling has been at the heart of many movies over the years. Here’s a look at five of the most fascinating facts about some of the best gambling-themed movies.
1. Ocean’s Eleven Could Have Been Less Colourful
The 2001 movie Ocean’s Eleven has become one of the most famous casino-themed films of all time. It follows Danny Ocean, played by George Clooney, and his friend Rusty Ryan, played by Brad Pitt, who gather together a bunch of criminals to steal $160 million from the casino owner Terry Benedict. A fascinating fact about the movie, which few people know, is the director Steven Soderbergh originally planned to shoot the film in black and white. But after Warner Brothers told him that he could only do so if he dramatically reduced the costs of filming, Soderbergh changed his mind.
2. Sharon Stone Almost Missed Her Opportunity to Star in Casino
Martin Scorsese’s classic 1995 movie Casino is one of the all-time great casino films. It stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone; although Stone almost never got cast. Despite being offered an audition, her first audition was cancelled. The same thing happened once more, which led Stone to convince herself that Scorsese was blowing her off. So, when she was contacted to attend another audition, Stone turned them down and instead went out for dinner with a friend. Scorsese must have really wanted Sharon Stone for the role because he tracked her down and showed up at the restaurant to appeal to her personally.
3. Mike Tyson Was High, Not Hungover in The Hangover
Mike Tyson famously made an appearance in the fantastic comedy movie The Hangover, which is about a bachelor party in Las Vegas where the groom goes missing, but unfortunately, Tyson only accepted the cameo to pay for his drug habit. Furthermore, he later admitted that he was high on cocaine while filming scenes. At least working on The Hangover actually made Tyson rethink his lifestyle. Furthermore, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember that Iron Mike owns a tiger in it. But you might not know that the former boxing champ actually owns a tiger in real real-life.
4. The Same Beard Features in Two Movies
The 1998 movie Rounders is about two friends who need to win a game of high-stakes poker to pay off a large debt. It stars Matt Damon as Mike McDermott and Edward Norton as Lester “Worm” Murphy. If you’ve seen Rounders, you may remember the scene at the beginning where Worm shaves off his goatee beard before being released from jail. Well, if you’ve also seen the movie American X, you may recognize that Norton is sporting the same goatee. He had finished filming American X a few months before filming began for Rounders, so it made sense for him to keep the beard rather than shaving it off and growing another.
5. Casino Royale Was Huge in China for a Very Specific Reason
It seems that practically everybody on earth is a James Bond fan. But you’ll probably be surprised to hear that the 2006 Casino Royale movie, which rebooted the series with Daniel Craig as 007, was the very first James Bond film to be released at cinemas in China. Since Lingling Qi, as 007 is known in China, is no longer involved with Cold War antics, he has become more palatable to the Chinese government. Chinese Sony Pictures distributed Casino Royale to 470 cinemas, which was the highest number of screenings ever for a foreign film in China.