Find out how the movie got its name and if Kate Winslet really dyed her hair all those colors

By Kelli Bender
Updated March 18, 2014 04:00 PM
Credit: Everett

If memory serves, the mind-bending Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind celebrated its 10th anniversary on March 19. Starring Kate Winslet (catch her in theaters this week as Divergent‘s villainous Jeanine) and Jim Carrey, the movie tells the story of Clementine and Joel, who decide to erase each other from their minds after their relationship falls apart.

The brain child of French director Michel Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a tender and often heart-wrenching look at love in reverse, carefully cataloguing a relationship from the moment of detonation to the first blush of love.

Ten years later, the movie still resonates with many. Although love can tear us apart, every heartache has its place. Sometimes people just can’t help loving who they love.

Whatever the current state of your heart, rejoice in these 20 delightfully esoteric facts about the film.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind started as an idea of French artist Pierre Bismuth, who co-wrote the film. Bismuth had the notion to randomly pass out cards, similar to the ones used by Lacuna Inc. in the film, telling strangers they’d been erased from someone’s memory.

2. The word Lacuna, used as the film’s memory-erasing firm, is Latin for missing part. Lacunar amnesia is losing the memory of a specific event.

3. The studio wanted to shoot the Montauk, Long Island, scenes in Canada for budgetary reasons, but Gondry fought to film on location.

4. Jim Carrey was an early pick for the role of Joel, because Gondry believed he was one of the few actors who could bathe in a sink without looking stupid.

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5. Carrey said he got along with Gondry except for a fight on the day of the sink scene. Winslet fainted during filming, but the director wanted to continue. Feeling connected to Winslet, Carrey refused to shoot until he knew the actress was all right.

6. Many of the interactions between Winslet and Carrey were developed through videotaped rehearsals where the pair shared their own personal heartaches.

7. Although Charlie Kaufman’s script was closely followed, actors were given room to improvise in their roles, especially Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood.

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8. Joel and Clementine’s conversation on the train was originally supposed to be 20 minutes long.

9. Gondry was prepared to scrap the movie’s now iconic scenes on the Charles River, in case it didn’t freeze over that winter. Luckily, it did.

10. The cold winter also provided a surprising amount of snow, which covered the beach used for shooting one day. Production wanted to cancel shooting, but Gondry convinced them to let Carrey and Winslet improvise, leading to one of the film’s most endearing scenes.

11. The circus elephant parade was unplanned. Cast and crew rushed to Madison Square Garden at midnight when they learned the elephants were walking to the stadium for an upcoming show. (Remember: Elephants never forget.)

12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind comes from the poem “Eloisa to Abelard” by Alexander Pope, which is the tale of a lover forcing herself to forget an affair causing her heartache.

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d;

13. Winslet wore a series of wigs throughout the production to portray Clementine. The actress was open to dyeing her hair, but the movie was filmed out of sequence and sometimes required several different hair colors in one day.

14. Carrey wasn’t wearing pants during many of the treatment scenes filmed in the Lacuna Inc. offices.

15. Seth Rogen auditioned for the role of Patrick, which is played by Elijah Wood.

16. A house was built on the ocean for Joel and Clementine’s goodbye. The water covering the floor during this scene is the tide coming in.

17. The pillow “game” scene – where one person pretends to smother another – came from Charlie Kaufman, who played a similar version with his then-girlfriend.

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18. Instead of using cuts to visualize characters disappearing and then reappearing in a different spot during Joel’s memory erasure, Gondry had actors use a series of secret doors to keep the shots continuous.

19. Director Michael Gondry and Jim Carrey made a short to go along with the movie called Pecan Pie. In the clip, Carrey sings an Elvis-esque ode to the titular dessert while driving around in a bed car.

20. In the original script, Joel has a one night stand with his ex-girlfriend Naomi, portrayed by Ellen Pompeo. However, these scenes were cut from the final edit.

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