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As far as country music biopics go, Walk The Line is up there with the best of the best. It tells the life story of Johnny Cash and his journey from a poor country boy to huge country star.
The 2005 hit movie garnered many award nominations, with Reese Witherspoon, who portrayed June Carter Cash, winning an Oscar for her performance. Joaquin Phoenix, who played Johnny Cash, was also nominated for an Oscar.
The project was a long time coming, and ended up being released after both legends had passed away. Johnny and June’s son John Carter Cash served as an executive producer and the movie received raved reviews from country music fans around the world.
Like many other movies, there are lots of things that go on behind the scenes that us common folk have no idea about – until now! Let’s take a look at seven behind-the scenes-secrets you probably didn’t know about the critically acclaimed film Walk The Line.
The scene in Walk The Line where Johnny Cash pulls the sink off the wall was, in fact, not scripted. Joaquin Phoenix improvised that scene.
Phoenix and Witherspoon did all their own singing in the film. They even learned how to play the instruments their characters played. Phoenix learned to play the guitar in the unique Cash style and Witherspoon learned how to play the auto harp.
Johnny Cash is known for his low, rich sounding voice. After six months of vocal training, Phoenix’s voice was still too high to perform the songs in the original key. The entire band learned every song in a higher key, but just before filming started, Phoenix’s voice dropped and they had to re-learn the songs in the original key!
Johnny Cash stood at the height of six-foot-two-inches tall. Joaquin Phoenix is just 5-foot-eight, a major height difference!
While Cash’s prison performances were part of who he was as a musician, the scenes were not filmed at an actual prison, even though it looks so real.
The actor revealed this information during an interview with MovieWeb. All the prisoners were extras and rumor has it that it was his idea to not let the extras eat, drink, or go the bathroom, so they’d have a tense atmosphere to film in.
Six months before he even met the director of Walk The Line, Phoenix randomly had dinner with Johnny and June. Apparently Cash was a huge fan of Phoenix’s film Gladiator and they had a friend in common who set them up for dinner.
Once Phoenix was attached to the project, Cash was all for it. His lovely wife loved the addition of Witherspoon as well. She passed away just before production started and Cash passed a few months after that. Neither were able to see the film, but a close Cash friend, Kris Kristofferson, told Phoenix after a showing of the film, “Thanks so much for doing this film and doing John proud. That was great.”
It seems life imitated art for these two actors. While they were both taking intense vocal lessons for six months before shooting began, tensions rose and they fought a lot. In interviews, they both have admitted to not getting along.
Once filming began, director James Mangold, revealed they became such close friends that their relationship became codependent. According to Mangold, “After the filming wrapped, Phoenix admitted to him that he and Witherspoon had relied on each other so much that they made a secret pact. The deal was that if one of them left or dropped out, the other would leave as well.”
Did y’all know any of these facts?! We sure didn’t Which one is your favorite? Sound off in the comments!