JOE's Film Flashback: Snatch (2000)
JOE's Spoiler Series... Snatch.
Welcome to JOE's Film Flashback, where we take you behind the scenes of some of the finest motion pictures ever made. This is your *SPOILER ALERT* warning, no more excuses now.
Ready? Then follow us as we find out all there is know about a legendary gangster comedy from 2000, Snatch.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Irish release date: September 1, 2000
Worldwide box office: $83,557,872
Irish certificate rating: 18
Tag Line: 'Stealin' Stones and Breakin' Bones.'
Clip via YouTube/Sony Pictures at Home UK
Plot's it all about?
Director Guy Ritchie followed up the surprise 1998 hit Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels with this doozy two years later.
The plot of Snatch is somewhat muddled, arguably even inconsequential, and revolves around a diamond which an assortment of nefarious characters cherish.
Its strengths lie in an array of larger-than-life characters played by terrific actors, a plethora of memorable quotes, incredible self-confidence and snappy dialogue; all backed by a fantastic soundtrack.
With Snatch turning 15 this year, here are some fascinating facts about Guy Ritchie's masterpiece.
When asked afterwards, many of the actors couldn’t describe the plot
That is because director Ritchie would only describe each particular scene with the actors involved and refused to disclose the overall plot.
Essentially, every scene was shot like a short-film with the intention of coaxing each actor into outperforming and outshining their peers, and the results made for some unforgettable moments.
The filming was equally as unpredictable. Many of the scenes were directed largely off-the-cuff with lots of room for manoeuvre.
For instance, the clip where Turkish (played by Jason Statham) confronts the gangsters in his casino was choreographed on the day, as the scene was being shot.
Clip via YouTube/MASSIVEATTACK.IE
Guy Ritchie imposed a set of fines to keep everyone on the straight and narrow
As there was no lead actor in the picture, Ritchie was determined to treat everyone the same and so had a system of penalties in place.
Actions which were considered misdemeanors included; arriving late, taking naps, moaning, being cheeky, telling an unfunny joke and mobile phones ringing.
In fact, Jason Statham was financially punished for the latter offence on occasion.
The risky idea was so successful, Ritchie even later admitted that Snatch was initially supposed to be an intense crime thriller but, due to the jovial atmosphere and camaraderie on set, it turned into one of most beloved British comedy/dramas of the last fifteen years.
Clip via YouTube/DynamiteHeaddy
Brad Pitt rang to ask for a part and a whole character was written just for him
Pitt was a big fan of Lock, Stock and so, naturally, the English director was more than happy to accommodate the mega star in Snatch.
The plan was for Pitt to play one of the London gangsters, but there was one major problem – he couldn’t master the cockney accent.
Instead, Ritchie created the role of Mickey – the bare-knuckle fighting, tattoo-sporting pikey – especially for the Oscar-nominated actor.
Funnily enough, Pitt was actually reluctant at first to play another fighting character, having just rapped on Fight Club, but was soon convinced of its merits, before signing on.
Story goes, that in order to prepare for the role he traveled to pubs around rural Ireland in the character of Mickey. To thank each publican for their hospitality, Pitt would regularly buy a round for everybody in attendance.
Sound man, definitely sounder than Mickey anyway.
Clip via YouTube/caspianx
The character of the evil Brick Top was initially offered to a Hollywood legend
The completely despicable, yet oddly endearing, character of Brick Top could have been portrayed by James Bond. That is because Sean Connery was first approached to play the part.
What’s more, the Scot was interested, so producer Matthew Vaughn – future director of Layer Cake and Kick Ass – hastily arranged a screening of Lock, Stock for the veteran actor.
Connery liked what he saw, but ultimately rejected the offer in a manner akin to 007 himself; “That is a good film”, he said, “and (in a stage whisper) you’re not going to be able to afford me.”
It was then only after Dave Courtney passed on the offer that Alan Ford got his chance.
Ford, who narrated Lock, Stock as well as appearing in a brief cameo, tested for the role of Brick Top three times. On the third occasion, Ford forgot his contact lenses and so had to wear his thick glasses.
The accident was a coincidence of fate, as the director knew he had just found his Brick Top.
Ford was mesmeric as the movie’s principal antagonist – a career-best showing.
Clip via YouTube/Movieclips
Stephen Graham won the role of Tommy through a remarkable break
Up until this point, Stephen Graham was a bit-part actor. Playing very minor, one-episode roles on the likes of Coronation Street and The Bill, his career was going nowhere fast.
He actually only accompanied his friend to the Snatch auditions. When Ritchie came to the waiting room and asked if Graham was next, he simply replied “No”; that was enough for the director, who said he liked the look of the young actor and invited Graham to audition.
The Merseysider was then asked to do his best cockney accent and, after demonstrating his penchant for impressions, the role of Tommy was, remarkably, his for keeps.
Clip via YouTube/callejee
Graham’s career skyrocketed after Snatch, including a star role as Al Capone in the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire – an incredible career trajectory for the Liverpudlian, all stemming from minding his own business in a waiting room.
Super Happy Bonus Fun Fact: The original dog, Bow, was a nightmare to work with and actually bit the actor Lennie James in the car scene so had to be replaced.
Song of the Film: Klint - Diamond
There are so many well known tracks used brilliantly in Snatch; Golden Brown for Mickey's knockout punch and Ghost Town for the introduction of Vinny and Sol, to name just two examples, but we're going with the theme song as the pick of the bunch.
It encapsulates everything about the film; cool, incisive, stylish, menacing, fun and the imagery of the characters walking with purpose. Excellent stuff.
Never gets old, this track.
Clip via YouTube/Julien A