Ready to feel old? It’s been over two decades since we first watched Miss Congeniality (2000) and fell in love with both Gracie Hart and Sandra Bullock. But the movie remains iconic (and incredibly quotable) to this day. Eager to revisit the film? Well, today is the “Perfect Date” for taking a trip down memory lane and into that ’90s nostalgia with some behind-the-scenes facts from one of Hollywood’s most timeless comedies.
Gracie’s Parents Were Cut From the Movie
Gracie’s abrasive personality sometimes has you wondering about her backstory — or, at least, her life before the Bureau. Well, you’ll have to keep wondering. The character’s parents were actually in the movie — until, well, they weren’t. In fact, her dad, played by Edward Herrmann, was in the film’s original trailer.
The movie was also supposed to include Gracie’s mother — a top-notch FBI agent who was killed in action. In fact, in the original script, Gracie joined the FBI to follow in her mom’s footsteps and make her proud. In the end, that thread — and Gracie’s dad — were left on the cutting room floor when the director decided Bullock’s character didn’t need the extra storyline.
Gracie Is Clumsy — and Sandra Is Too
Let’s be honest, Gracie’s character is pretty relatable. The snort-laugh, the attitude, the whole using her FBI badge to cut in line at Starbucks. But, by far, her most relatable quality is her clumsiness. The best part? Those laugh-out-loud klutzy moments were inspired by Bullock’s real-life clumsiness.
Bullock revealed that she’s a pretty clumsy person — and it’s clear that the filmmakers jumped at the chance to incorporate that side of her in quite a few Miss Congeniality scenes. So, every time you see Gracie fall or trip, it’s most likely just Sandra Bullock taking one for the team. Talk about doing your own stunts… In fact, Bullock didn’t attend the rehearsals for the pageant’s dance scene in order to make that moment seem more authentic — going method definitely worked!
The Secret Meaning Behind the “Perfect Date”
If you don’t think about Miss Congeniality every April 25th, you will from now on. It’s one of the most quotable parts of the movie — and for a good reason. But believe it or not, there’s an even deeper meaning to the date. And, yes, it’s deeper than the fact that the weather’s usually not too hot or cold.
William Shatner, who plays Stan Fields, shared this secret factoid on Twitter: April 25th is actually the birthday of the director’s wife! The date, known for being light jacket-appropriate, has also become the official Miss Congeniality Day.
No Need for a Stunt Double
Heather Burns, who played Cheryl Fraiser, learned how to twirl a baton specifically for the role. But she’s not the only one who worked hard to make her character come to life. Both Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt, who played Eric Matthews, did their own fight scenes without stunt doubles.
In fact, their wrestling match was so real Bullock ended up accidentally hitting Bratt in the crotch. They had to stop filming the scene so he could recover. The director joked that the two are still mad they had to do their own scenes. After all, it may look like all fun and games, but sometimes these fight scenes result in bruises and sore muscles.
You Think I’m Gorgeous, You Want to Kiss Me
First of all, sorry for getting that stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Second of all, did you know that this moment was completely unscripted? Gracie’s singing was actually Bullock’s improv — and it became one of the most memorable parts of the movie.
Gracie and Eric were supposed to share a kiss when she first sang those words to him. They ended up filming it twice — one version ended with them kissing, while the other ended with Eric abruptly biting into a candy bar. The director believed it was too early on in the film for them to share a smooch.
The Secret Life of Pageant Girls
Remember Miss Nebraska from the movie? After landing a few small acting roles, she eventually joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Dallas. But she’s not the only former Miss Congeniality pageant girl to carve out a spot in Hollywood.
Deirdre Quinn, who played Miss Texas, went on to play Tina in Heroes. Meanwhile, Jennifer Gareis, who was meant to play the original Miss New Jersey — the spot Gracie fills — was supposed to be confronted by Gracie and Eric about the undercover plan. However, the director cut the scene and cast Gareis as Tina instead — you know, the woman Miss New York (Melissa De Sousa) shouts out after coming out on stage.
It Was Meant to Be the Worst Movie EVER
If you look at its Rotten Tomatoes score, critics aren’t exactly kind when it comes to Miss Congeniality. But during the screening stages, the director used the opportunity to show some extra scenes and test the audience’s reaction. If they’d laugh, the scene would be added in. If not, it’d be taken out. Those screenings weren’t meant to be seen by critics, but that didn’t stop a blogger called Harry Knowles from sneaking in.
Knowles ended up publishing an absolutely horrible review of the movie, saying it would ruin Bullock’s career. The negativity didn’t affect the final production of the movie and, despite the initial budget of $45 million, it ended up grossing an impressive $212 million worldwide. Look who had the last snort-laugh.