Time-bending facts about the cult classic Donnie Darko

Writer-director Richard Kelly met with then 31-year-old Vince Vaughan 4 times in an attempt to get the post-Swingers actor to take on the titular role, but Vaughan was uncomfortable with the idea of playing a 16-year-old. Bizarrely, Mark Wahlberg was also interested in the role but only if he could play Donnie with a lisp!

The film marks Seth Rogen’s film debut. His first line in the film, and thus the first in his now comprehensive movie career, is “I like your boobs.”


The scene where Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) corrects Gretchen’s (Jena Malone) pronunciation of ‘Professor Monnitoff’ (Noah Wyle) was improvised, because the actress couldn’t pronounce ‘Monnitoff’ correctly.

Frank, the creepy man-rabbit, says the world will end in “twenty-eight days, six hours, forty-two minutes, twelve seconds.” This figure is achieved by subtracting or adding to the precise length of one lunar month (twenty-seven days, seven hours, forty-three minutes, eleven seconds).

Drew Barrymore’s film company was responsible for funding the film’s $4.5 million budget. In doing so, as well as appearing in the film as Miss Pomeroy, Barrymore saved the film from going straight-to-DVD.

In his role as motivational speaker Jim Cunningham, Patrick Swayze wore his own clothes from the 1980’s.

The strange, predictive, future blobs idea came to writer Richard Kelly when he was watching an NFL game in less than sober circumstances. Legendary football analyst John Madden would often use a teleprompter to show where players were about to go during a play and Kelly simply imagined what it would look like if God was doing that to people in real life.

He was clearly pretty high (Kelly, not Madden).

Noah Wyle decided that his character Professor Monnitoff was diabetic, hence several scenes showing him eating candy.

Miss Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) mentions that ‘Cellar Door’has been said to be one of the most beautiful English phrases possible. This is backed up by several prominent writers, including J.R.R Tolkien and H.L. Mencken, all who have at some stage opined over the ‘special beauty’ of the two words.

Originally, Donnie was supposed to have fantasized about Alyssa Milano. However, due to legal reasons, the object of desire was changed to Christina

The film took 28 days to film, the same length of time Donnie had before he was to die.

Apparently, this was just a coincidence.

The film is, er, pretty confusing (Rogen and Gyllenhaal still maintain to this day they have no idea what the film is about). Further explanation is given in the Director’s cut, where the man in the red tracksuit is shown to be an FAA spy and Donnie’s ‘powers’ are more expansively examined.

The film is set in Virginia, as indicated by both Frank’s license plate and that of the Darko family’s car.

Jake Gyllenhaal rarely blinks in the film, a common tactic employed by actors to denote mental psychosis.

Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) warns of the perils of alcohol, drugs, and premarital sex. Throughout the film, Donnie indulges in all these ‘vices’ and thus his death can be seen as punishment for his giving into these temptations.

When everything is ‘reset’ at the end of the film, Frank can be seen to be wiping a tear from his right eye. This is the same eye that gets both shot through and stabbed by Donnie in the alternative/film’s timeline.

There was a (terrible) 2009 sequel called S. Darko, about Donnie’s little sister (with Daveigh Chase reprising the role). Richard Kelly was not involved.

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