A day late, (Or AM I… maybe I posted this yesterday and you’re reliving it) I’m sorry! But despite the holiday theme, this movie is pretty fantastic year-round. Enjoy the trivia (sprinkled with video for your viewing pleasure).
The original script started right in the middle of the events, making the audience wonder how Phil Connors was able to predict everything that was going to happen right before they actually did. But Harold Ramis decided that it would be too confusing for the viewer, and so the background story was filled in.
Another version of the script had Phil as the victim of voodoo. A woman who used to word with Phil was supposedly rejected in that acid-tongued style of his, and sought her revenge by making him relive his most hated day of the year over and over.
Phil is pulled partly from Bill Murray’s own personality. “Bill has a nastiness,” Harold Ramis said. “There’s a self-centeredness and a vanity.” But he also adds that Murray also has a very warm side as well… and we definitely see all of those personality traits in Phil. He briefly considered Tom Hanks, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Travolta for the Phil Connors role, but ultimately decided that none of them were “too nice” compared to Murray, and he needed that nasty side of Phil.
Here’s a shocker – the film wasn’t shot in Punxsutawney at all. Instead, Woodstock, Illinois was used. Punxsutawnians (I don’t know if that is what citizens of Punxsutawney are really called or not) were very upset by this at first, but later understood that perhaps their beloved town wasn’t quite Hollywood-worthy. For instance, the Punxsutawney had no town square, whereas Woodstock’s town square made for a very iconic, small-town feeling. Several scenes from Planes, Trains and Automobiles was also filmed in Woodstock.
Woodstock is so proud of being the location of the movie that they’ve erected a plaque at the corner with the troublesome puddle and named it “Ned’s Corner.” They also have their own groundhog now, Woodstock Willie, and the local movie theater shows the movie for free every Groundhog’s Day weekend.
One of the many ways Phil tries (unsuccessfully) to kill himself is by throwing himself off of a bell tower. In real life, the opera house is thought to be haunted by a girl who committed suicide by jumping off of the same tower. The people at the theater have nicknamed her Elvira and say that she prefers seat number 113 – when Elvira is present, the spring-loaded seat actually lowers on its own and stays in that position and strange sounds can be heard coming from that general direction.
Bill Murray was bitten by Scooter the groundhog twice during filming.
The part where Phil runs into intensely irritating Ned Ryerson and says, “I don’t know what you’re doing later…” and scares him off? Totally improvised by Bill Murray.
Harold Ramis says that the onset interaction between Bill Murray and Andie McDowell was similar to the film version – Murray was rather rude and not very well behaved on set, but when Andie was around, he softened up considerably.
The timeline was originally supposed to be Phil Connors living the same day over and over again for a whopping 10,000 years. Harold Ramis later said it was probably more like 10 years.
According to IMDB, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis bickered so much during the filming of this that it totally ruined their friendship. Murray wanted the movie to be thought-provoking and philosophical; Ramis was looking for a more comedic approach. Supposedly they haven’t spoken since the movie wrapped, but I question this – especially with the rumor of a new Ghostbusters movie.