Apollo 13 Launched 41 Years Ago: 5 Best Trivia Bits About the Film

Categories: Movies, NASA

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Not only is failure not an option, it's not an accurate quote
Forty-one years ago Apollo 13 blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center, and things went swimmingly for a while.

Last year we listed our favorite dweebiest nit-picks about the movie; this year let's look at some favorite pieces of trivia.

It being the internet and all, take each of these with a grain of salt. But they're on the web, so chances are there's at least a chance of them being true.

5. Gary Busey's immortal contribution
In the movie, Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) vomits from motion sickness, but soon professes he's fine by saying "I could eat the ass out of a dead rhinoceros." According to imdb that line was never saifd in real life but "It was made up the day of filming by Gary Busey, who was visiting the set at the time and they thought it would be a good country boy line."

4. Brad Pitt, John Cusack and John Travolta turned down roles
We can see Pitt or Cusack in one of the supporting roles, but Travolta as Lovell? Glad things didn't work out.

3. Real-life cameos
Among those who actually lived through Apollo 13 and made cameo appearances in the film are Gene "Failure is not an option" Kranz and Marilyn Lovell and Jim Lovell in separate scenes. And Roger Corman as one of the tourists being guided by Hanks in the beginning.

2. No one sweated whether Jack Swigert could dock with the Lunar Module
An early bit of tenseness comes when new crew member Jack Swigert has to dock the two ships. "Come on, rookie, park that thing," boss astronaut Deke Slayton mutters as Lovell and Haise look on concernedly. In fact, the actual Lovell says on a commentary track to the movie, no one doubted Swigert could do it, and if he couldn't his two crewmates could have. Not to mention there was no need to get it done the first time -- Apollo 14 took a half-dozen tries to dock.

1. "Failure is not an option" ? Never said
Even though he used it for the title of his book, flight director Gene Kranz never said the words "Failure is not an option" during the mission.

From Spaceacts, citing an e-mail from flight dynamics officer Jerry Bostick (father of one of the associate producers of the film, by the way):

As far as the expression 'Failure is not an option", you are correct that Kranz never used that term. In preparation for the movie, the script writers, Al Reinart and Bill Broyles, came down to Clear Lake to interview me on "What are the people in Mission Control really like?" One of their questions was "Weren't there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?" My answer was "No, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution."

I immediately sensed that Bill Broyles wanted to leave and assumed that he was bored with the interview. Only months later did I learn that when they got in their car to leave, he started screaming, "That's it! That's the tag line for the whole movie, Failure is not an option. Now we just have to figure out who to have say it." Of course, they gave it to the Kranz character, and the rest is history.


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4 comments
Jared
Jared

I wanna play!

1. The chutes didn't open until a minute or so after the Odyssey emerged from blackout.

2. During the live broadcast, a TV is shown airing a ball game instead; I believe it was a Jimmy Wynn homer.

ribalding
ribalding

You mean a movie wasn't 100% true?

JB
JB

"Houston, we have a problem" also never actually said.

Steve Dotson
Steve Dotson

Well techinally it's just a misquote of Swigert's statement, "Houston, we've had a problem"

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