25 years ago, Martin Scorsese‘s remake of the 1962 classic Cape Fear hit theaters, and we’ve had trouble looking at Robert De Niro the same way ever since. His turn as Max Cady, complete with thick southern accent, body covered with vengeance-themed tattoos, and the ability to speak in tongues, still leaves us feeling thoroughly troubled, as if he may pop out of the river at any moment to complete his mission. To help rid us of the nightmares (and to make his characters in movies like Meet the Parents and The Intern seem a little less disturbing), we’re taking a look at how Cape Fear became the classic that it is today.
1.Steven Spielberg was originally going to direct it but he recommended Scorsese.
2. The accent Cady speaks with was leftover from an earlier role as a southerner De Niro had. In preparation, he took excerpts from the script, along with a tape recorder, and ask locals in southern towns to read lines from the script for authenticity.
3. The accent actually creeped Martin Scorsese out so much that De Niro began calling his house and leaving voicemails as Max Cady, just to mess with him.
4. Robert De Niro’s body was actually inked up with all of those tattoos — they just used vegetable dyes, which fade after a few months.
5. De Niro paid $5,000 to get his teeth ruined for the role, then $20,000 to get them fixed.
6. Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore auditioned to play Danielle Bowden, and Alyssa Milano along with Christina Applegate turned the role down.
The conversation during drama class scene in the high school auditorium between De Niro and Juliette Lewis was completely ad-libbed.
7. Three of the stars of the original Cape Fear make appearances in this version.
Gregory Peck, who played Sam Bowden in the original, appeared as Cady’s lawyer in Scorsese’s version, while the original Max Cady, Robert Mitchum, played Lieutenant Elgart in the new version. Martin Balsam, who appeared as Mark Dutton in the 1962 version, made a cameo as a judge in the 1991 film.Peck and Mitchum could not stand one another. This was also Gregory Peck’s final appearance in a theatrical film.
8. This was Scorsese’s highest grossing movie until it was beat by The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013.
9. The score is a mix of the score from the original movie and an unused score for Torn Curtain.