6 Mind-Bending ‘Donnie Darko’ Facts on Film’s 15th Anniversary (Photos)
Events in genre-warping Jake Gyllenhaal movie remain a mystery to this day
Meriah Doty | October 26, 2016 @ 12:44 PM
Last Updated: September 24, 2018 @ 3:37 PM
Jake Gyllenhaal starred as a teenager dealing with bizarre visions of a menacing figure in a rabbit mask named Frank in writer-director Richard Kelly's 2001 film.
It's been 15 years since the movie opened in theaters and is now considered something of a cult classic. With the help of the film's trivia page on IMDb, TheWrap has amassed six of the most mind-bending facts about the movie...
Aside from the gruesome figure in a rabbit costume that haunts Donnie, there are other rabbits in the movie:
The Echo and the Bunnymen song "The Killing Moon" is featured in one scene as a Volkswagen Rabbit drives by; a stuffed rabbit appears next to Elizabeth Darko (Maggie Gyllenhaal) as she sleeps; Donnie appears in a photo dressed as a rabbit; and he also carves Frank's likeness into a jack-o-lantern.
Speaking of bunnies, there was a "Watership Down" subplot in an early version of the script that was ultimately cut, according to writer-director Richard Kelly. Still, references to the movie, along with other Kelly favorites -- "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (a bike scene, pictured) and "Back to the Future" -- appear in the film.
"Donnie Darko" marked Seth Rogen's feature film debut. The "Pineapple Express" actor played a high school bully in the film, which was set in the 1980s. Rogen's next role would be as an eager cameraman in 2004's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."
Patrick Swayze, playing a motivational speaker whose deeply troubled propensities are exposed, wore his own clothes from the 1980s in the film, according to Kelly.
At the wrap party for the film, Seth Rogen and Jake Gyllenhaal reportedly agreed that they had no idea what the movie was about. "I didn’t get it back then, and still don't," said Rogen in 2007. Even writer-director Kelly doesn't know exactly whether the movie depicts Darko's dreams or if it takes place in an alternate plane of existence. "I think that ultimately both of those things could be true," he said in an interview.
For more trivia, goofs and quotes go to IMDb's "Donnie Darko" page here.