Nashville is a 1975 American satirical musical comedy-drama movie directed by Robert Altman. The movie takes a snapshot of people involved in the country music and gospel music businesses in Nashville, Tennessee. The character’s efforts to succeed or hold on to their success are interwoven with the efforts of a political operative and a local businessman to stage a concert rally before the state’s presidential primary for a populist outsider running for President of the United States on the Replacement Party ticket. Take a look below for 27 more fun and fascinating facts about Nashville.
1. Nashville is often noted for its scope, with several critics viewing it as a sort of mosaic.
2. The movie contains 24 main characters, an hour of musical numbers, and multiple storylines.
3. Its large ensemble cast includes David Arkin, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Timothy Brown, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert DoQui, Shelley Duvall, Allen Garfield, Henry Gibson, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris, David Hayward, Michael Murphy, Allan F. Nicholls, Dave Peel, Cristina Raines, Bert Remsen, Lilly Tomlin, Gwen Welles, and Keenan Wynn.
4. Nashville opened to strongly positive reviews and won numerous awards. It’s considered Robert Altman’s masterpiece, and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1992.
5. Each actor was required to write and perform their own songs for the movie.
6. The movie was very much improvised by the actors, who used the screenplay only as a guide. They spent a great amount of their time in character, and the movie was shot almost entirely in sequence.
7. The original footage was so long that it was almost released as two parallel movies: “Nashville Red” and “Nashville Blue.”
8. All songs were recorded live rather than being prerecorded in a studio.
9. During the filming of the car crash scene, drivers who were passing by stopped their cars and rushed tot he scene of the “accident,” carrying first aid kits and blankets.
10. After seeing the first footage of her work in the traffic jam scene, Barbara Harris reportedly ran out of the projection room, went home, and asked Robert Altman to meet with her immediately. Unhappy with her performance, Harris offered to put up her own money to have the scene re-shot. Altman told her no.
11. The breaking off of the airport parking lot gate by an exiting vehicle was not intentional.
12. All the band musicians used in the movie were real musicians working in Nashville at the time.
13. The movie was created due to an offer that Robert Altman turned down. Originally, he was offered the chance to direct another script that took place in Nashville. He turned the project down but became interested in the setting. He sent his script supervisor, Joan Tewkesbury, to Nashville to observe the place and take notes. She wrote a diary and that diary became the basis of her screenplay. For there, several scenes were rewritten or improvised by the performers, a standard practice on Altman projects.
14. Gary Busey was originally going to play “Tom” and wrote the song “Since You’ve Gone”, which was used in the movie.
15. Robert Altman didn’t want the audience to hear Barbara Harris sing until the very last scene in the movie.
16. The actor Merle Kilgore plays Trout, a reference to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s seminal character Kilgore Trout.
17. Robert Altman and Gwen Welles took singing lessons to sound better. The end result of those extended lessons is what you hear in the movie.
18. Robert Altman said that musicians in Nashville didn’t like the music in the movie. The musicians felt that real songs should have been used in the movie, meaning their own songs.
19. Robert Altman said that Nashville was the first movie he directed that he had total control over.
20. Karen Black was only in Nashville for one week to film her scenes.
21. Nashville’s 11 Golden Globe nominates remains the most for a single movie. It also received four nominations in a single acting category, this was and remains unprecedented for a major movie award show.
22. The character of Barbara Jean is loosely based on Loretta Lynn and the Haven Hamilton role is based on Red Foley.
23. The role of runaway wife “Albuquerque”, eventually played by Barbara Harris, was first offered to Bette Midler and then Bernadette Peters.
24. Polly Platt was originally hired as the production designer for Nashville. She quit working on the movie because she objected to Robert Altman’s idea of having an assassination at the end of the movie.
25. The house that is Haven Hamilton’s home was actually the house that Robert Altman and his family stayed in during the filming of Nashville.
26. George Segal had a cameo as himself, but it was cut.
27. Award winning fiddler and actor Johnny Gimble makes a cameo appearance during the last big stage scene when he does a “walk on” with his fiddle and joins fiddler Vassar Clements and the rest of the band as they perform.