13 Things You Didn't Know About The Omen
Article By: Tyler Doupe
It’s hard to believe that The Omen turns 41 this year on June 25th. It has a timeless quality to it that makes it just as shocking and every bit as relevant today as it was upon its initial release.
When it comes to trivia, most fans are likely to know about the film’s troubled production process. But we’ve dug a little deeper and searched through interviews, DVD commentaries, and more to bring you some slightly lesser known facts about the flick. With that said, we now present to you 13 Things You Didn’t Know About The Omen.
1. Richard Donner does not consider The Omen a horror film
In interviews, he has described his view of the picture not as a horror feature but as a “mystery suspense-thriller”. I think a lot of horror fans would tend to disagree with that categorization but it’s hard to argue with the man responsible for bringing the film to life about his own movie.
2. The film’s religious advisor predicted some of the malady that occurred in the wake of the film’s production
The film’s religious advisor predicted some of the malady that occurred in the wake of the film’s production
3. David Seltzer wrote the screenplay in just four weeks
Screenwriter David Seltzer says that he spent several months planning and researching the script but that the actual screenwriting process took only a month from start to finish
4. Charles Bail was originally slated to direct before Richard Donner came onboard
At that point in his career, Bail had a couple of exploitation films under his belt. However, Warner Brothers began to lose interest and the studio was planning to drop the project. At the last minute, Richard Donner became aware of the project and was able to swoop in and sell it to 20th Century Fox (after they had already passed once).
5. Harvey Stephens (the actor that plays Damien) was actually blond.
The production team died his hair with shoe polish and had him fitted for contacts in order to make his physical appearance more ominous and less angelic.
6. Harvey Stephens was cast as Damien because he attacked Richard Donner
Donner asked each child actor that auditioned for the role of Damien to attack on his command. When Donner instructed Stephens to attack him, he repeatedly hit the director in the crotch. Donner was impressed by his enthusiasm and cast him as young Damien.
7. The decapitation sequence took as many as seven cameras to shoot
Director Richard Donner was personally operating one of the cameras that captured the gruesome sequence. He deliberately made the sequence longer than expected so that people who looked away during the beheading would look back and still see the head rolling.
8. The sequence where Damien and his mother are attacked by baboons was quite difficult to accomplish and required some creativity
Initially, the idea was to not feed the animals for a period of time and then place bananas on top of the car the actors were driving. The hope was that they would flock to the automobile and attack it in a threatening manner. However, the baboons were much too docile. Eventually, the crew placed an anesthetized baboon in the car with the actors. This enraged the other animals and created the desired effect. The actor’s reactions are completely genuine. They were both terrified by the swarm of baboons.
9. No goldfish were harmed during the making of this picture
In the scene where Damien knocks his mother (Lee Remick) off the balcony, there is a goldfish bowl that is knocked to the ground. The original plan was to use live goldfish. When Richard Donner got wind of that, he said he was not willing to kill a goldfish to make a movie. So, the crew got sardines from craft services and painted them orange, instead. There was one live goldfish used briefly but it was put back in the water in a matter of a few seconds and was ultimately unharmed.
10. The Rottweiler dogs that attack Gregory Peck were originally supposed to be German Shepherds
Since the film was shot in England and there was a six-month quarantine requirement for all pets, so the production team had to look locally for animals to use. All that the crew could find on such short notice were Rottweilers.
11. Richard Donner regards Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting score as equally important as any visual aspect of the film
However, Donner wasn’t always a fan of some of Goldsmith’s ideas. The director was initially skeptical of using Gregorian chants in the film. But once he heard the finished product, he was immediately onboard with the idea.
12. Charlton Heston was reportedly offered the role of Robert Thorn before Gregory Peck
\Heston is said to have passed on the role because he didn’t feel strongly about the part and thought the script may not translate well to the screen.
13. Gregory Peck’s son took his own life roughly two-years before production began on "The Omen"
Jonathan Peck died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1975. He was a news reporter. Gregory Peck reportedly took two years off work after the tragic loss of his son.