Swim Team: Director Behn Zeitlin looked at 4,000 kids over the course of nine months to cast the part of Hushpuppy before he decided on a 5-year-old, Quvenzhané Wallis. Problem was, she didn't know how to swim, even though moving through bodies of water would be a requirement on the job.
"So we taught her to swim as part of making the film," director Behn Zeitlin said. "There was a scene where she had to run into the water, and we had people hiding in the water to catch the girls, but she was like Jesus on the water. She just ran on top of the water, past the guards who were there to catch her. She was fearless."
Run time: 2 hours, 30 minutes. Best time to go to the bathroom? Anytime, seriously.
There Once Was A Man Named Abe: Daniel Day-Lewis is a famously Method actor. On the set of "Nine," he wrote his co-stars love letters in character as Guido. And on the set of "Lincoln," he wrote his character's wife limericks, in character as Lincoln, signing them, "Yours, A." And apparently, they were naughty, or at least, very personal.
"I wouldn't tell anybody the content of them," Sally Field laughed. "They're mine, and not yours, and it will always be that way. It was just our way of getting to know each other and preparing, so I wouldn't tell you, even if I did remember them off the top of my head!"
Field said she responded in character as Mary Todd Lincoln, "and she criticized him quite a bit," so her texts back were not very encouraging. "That's kind of what she was," Field said.
Run time: 2 hours, 45 minutes. Best time to go to the bathroom? The KKK raid, unless you're keen on a Jonah Hill cameo.
The D is Silent: The name "Django" was so chosen because of Sergio Corbucci's 1967 spaghetti western starring Franco Nero, which resulted in a number of sequels, well, sequels only in the sense that they shared the character name Django. Quentin Tarantino uses musical cues from the original "Django" as well as Corbucci's "The Hellbenders," Clint Eastwood's "Two Mules for Sister Sara" and Sergio Sollima's "Violent City."
Run time: 2 hours, 37 minutes. Best time to go to the bathroom? "If you go very, very fast, then you can go after 'One Day More,' where the interval would have been," said director Tom Hooper.
Lapdances: Hugh Jackman celebrated his co-star Amanda Seyfried's 27th birthday while on the promo tour by giving her a very public lapdance, even though he plays the adopted father to her Cosette in the film.
"In my household, that's normal," he joked. "Is that not normal in father-daughter relationships? I was singing ('happy birthday') very sweetly to her, and then I looked at her eyes, and you can't maintain sweetness for more than five seconds."
Jackman predicts there might be more lapdances in store -- perhaps on Oscar night?
"She might need more of them," he laughed. "It's a very demanding job to keep her in line, because she is quite naughty."
Told of this, Seyfried said she understands and accepts her "punishment."
"I know he really enjoys that, so I'll let him," she said. "If that's what he needs. Whatever he needs."
'Life of Pi'
Run time: 2 hours, 6 minutes. Best time to go to the bathroom? Before the shipwreck.
Deep Blue Sea: Director Ang Lee and screenwriter Dave Magee consulted with a real-life shipwreck survivor named Steve Callahan (who is actually mentioned in Yann Martel's source novel) to help make the ocean a real character in the story. Callahan, a professional sailor, details in his book "Adrift" (required reading for all the film's various department heads) how he was lost at sea for 76 days in an inflated 5-foot life raft, and he became the film's survival expert, sharing mechanics, psychology, and imagery that the filmmakers adopted (such as the wondrous moment when the whale and calf come up from the deep and stream bioluminescence from their bodies).
Callahan helped created Pi's rainwater canopy, honed designs for the life raft and taught young actor Suraj Sharma how to spear fish. He explained how he wrote in a journal to determine his location, so Lee and Magee borrowed that idea to have Pi write in the margins of his survival guide (which Callahan helped create).
Callahan also took the filmmakers out on the ocean, first off the coast of Maine in an antique Friendship sloop during foul weather. The director actually asked to be left out there alone, so he could feel shipwrecked. But as accommodating as the survival expert was, this was one request Callahan refused.
'Zero Dark Thirty'
Run time: 2 hours, 37 minutes. Best time to go to the bathroom? "That's a tough one, man," laughed actor Jason Clarke. "I don't think you can. There should be a disclaimer beforehand. 'Please shut off your mobile phones; please go to the bathroom.'"