Empire Records is one of the best movies of the 90s that is almost always forgotten. It’s a simple story of a group of teens working at a record store, but there is so much more to it than that. They are dealing with a lot of real issues that actual teens experience, and the movie handles them in pretty honest ways.
The movie starred a young Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger, Robin Tunney and Ethan Embry along with their rag-tag group of friends. The general story line is that they have to save their independent record store from getting taken over by a big chain, but it’s also about friendship and the struggles of teen life.
The movie may have been a flop in the theaters, but it found its audience in later years. Even though it didn’t so well at the time, 20 years later we are still talking about it, so obviously it’s got to be worth it! Even if you loved this movie, chances are you don’t know much about it. Here are 7 interesting facts that will make you want to celebrate Rex Manning Day all over again!
1. The actor who played Berko was actually Liv Tyler’s step dad
He had to lie about his age to get the job. Originally the producers wanted Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day to play the character of Berko, but he was unavailable. Coyote Shivers lied about his age because he said that “I looked young anyway.” Producers didn’t find out that he was married to Liv Tyler’s mom until months later.
2. Tobey Maguire was supposed to be in the movie
He was supposed to play a character named “Andre”, but everything he shot was cut from the movie. Rumor has it that “Maguire showed up, felt aimless, may or may not have consumed a psychotropic drug, and somehow ended up in the basement of Moyle’s [the movie’s directo] beach house eating a giant bowl of cereal.” Apparently Moyle sent Maguire back to Hollywood to go work on a script and agreed to make the movie when it was done. It never worked out but obviously his career has gone just fine.
3. Apparently everyone had a crush on Liv Tyler
Ethan Embry, who played Mark, said that “I just remember having the biggest crush on [Liv]. Ever. Which was very difficult, because then we went to shoot That Thing You Do! and I still had a f***ing crush on her.” He wasn’t the only one smitten with the young actress. Maxwell Caulfield, A.K.A. Rex Manning, said that “Liv Tyler was at the center of it all. Everybody was gravitating to this young, emerging swan.”
3. Renée Zellweger was dating the actor who played Lucas
Zellweger was playing Gina, a very bold young woman, but in real life she was in a relationship with Rory Cochrane who played Lucas. They had met on the set of Dazed and Confused and he was the one who suggested she try out for the part.
4. The scene with Mark at the GWAR concert was filmed at a real show
Embry came up with the idea for Mark to hallucinate that he was at a GWAR concert and the producers actually went with it. Robin Tunny, who played Deb, said that Embry pitched the idea because GWAR had a concert scheduled in town. Apparently the audience didn’t really understand what was going on, but they did a few takes and then were on their way.
There are more interesting things to find out, including details about the one and only Rex Manning…
5. Rex Manning’s fashion is based on a few famous singers
If you remember seeing Rex Manning and thinking he was absolutely ridiculous, you should probably know that he is based on real people. They used Tom Jones and Rod Stewart as the inspiration for his look.
6. Angelina Jolie was almost Deb
Alan Riche, producer of the movie, said that she was in consideration because she was a “force of nature.” But they eventually went with Robin Tunney and I think we can all agree she was perfect for the role.
7. Rex Manning Day is a tribute to Kurt Cobain
It may sound like a bizarre connection, but the screenwriter says that the date they made Rex Manning Day was connected to Kurt Cobain. April 8th is the day that Rex Manning visited the record store, which happens to be the day that they found Cobain’s body. In a recent interview, Embry said, “I was just talking to the writer [Carol], and she was saying it’s in one of the drafts. April 8th is the same day they found Kurt Cobain’s body. It’s not the day he died. We shot that the same year they found him, so it represents the death of a rock star. Nobody ever says it in the movie. Nobody ever says April 8th.”