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    17 Cool Things I Just Learned About "Nomadland" That You'll Probably Want To Know Too

    The woman who plays Fern's sister is actually one of Frances McDormand's oldest friends in real life.

    1. Almost the entire cast was comprised of "real" people, i.e. not professional actors.

    Chloé Zhao directs members of the cast at an RV show
    Searchlight Pictures

    They all play slightly fictionalized versions of themselves.

    2. In fact, all the characters in the film are named after the people who played them in real life — except for Frances McDormand and the woman who plays Fern's sister Dolly.

    List of the cast names showing their characters are the same as the real people
    Searchlight Pictures

    Because WHY NOT?

    3. The woman who plays Fern's sister Dolly is actually one of McDormand's oldest friends in real life, Melissa Smith.

    San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater has announced that conservatory director Melissa Smith will be leaving the organization on Dec. 31. Peter J. Kuo and Danyon Davis will step in @ACTSanFrancisco. https://t.co/oVHiGj1Sjm

    Twitter: @AmericanTheatre

    Smith served as the conservatory director and head of acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco for 25 years and has performed off-Broadway in New York, throughout the US, and in England.

    4. When she was younger, McDormand said her dream was to change her name to Fern and "hit the road" in an RV when she turned 65.

    Searchlight Pictures

    McDormand told Variety that, when she was 45, she told her husband that when she turned 65 she'd “start smoking Lucky Strikes, drinking Wild Turkey, and hit the road in my RV.”

    5. The production filmed with a super minimal crew...just 25 people.

    A boom operator, camera man, and assistant film Frances outside her van
    ARRI Rental / Via youtube.com

    *Stands and claps*

    6. And the crew all lived out of vans, including the one in the movie, "Vanguard" (Fern's van), during filming.

    A film slate with "Road Movie" written on it during production
    Searchlight Pictures

    They traveled together for five months through more than seven states during filming.

    7. They were able to film inside an Amazon packaging facility simply by "asking."

    Fern carries a yellow bin down an aisle inside an Amazon packaging facility
    Searchlight Pictures

    “Fran wrote a nice letter to Amazon to ask them if we could do it and they said yes,” Richards told The Wrap.

    8. McDormand's husband, writer/director Joel Coen, actually visited the set one day.

    Joel Coen and Frances McDormand sit in the audience of an awards show
    Kevin Mazur / Getty

    Cinematographer Joshua James Richards laughed, "I look up and there's Joel Coen watching me film Fran with a little LED on a C-stand and I was like, 'we're really pulling out the stops here, Joel, I hope you appreciate this, it's my biggest setup.'"

    9. McDormand — who also produced the film — found director Chloé Zhao at the Toronto Film Festival.

    Chloe Zhao and Frances McDormand goofing around behind-the-scenes
    Searchlight Pictures

    McDormand knew she wanted Zhao to direct Nomadland after seeing the helmer's film The Rider at TIFF.

    10. Because the production was physically demanding, McDormand said she was actually assigned a "baby-sitter" to make sure she got to bed and got up on time so she wouldn't get exhausted.

    Zhao watching Frances acting through a camera monitor
    ARRI Rental / Via youtube.com

    "I was the oldest member of the company, I was 61 at the time of filming, so it was literally about keeping up," said McDormand.

    11. The film is based on the non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, but the filmmakers really think of it as more of a "companion piece."

    Cover of the "Nomadland" book which shows an old RV parked in the middle of nowhere
    Amazon / Via amazon.com

    Wanna check it out? Get it on Amazon for $13.17!

    12. In fact, many of the real people in the movie were also in the book, like Bob Wells, for example.

    Bob Wells talking to Fern during a sunset
    Searchlight Pictures

    You can watch Wells' real-life YouTube channel CheapRVliving if you wanna learn more. (His videos are super interesting and entertaining, BTW!)

    13. Zhao and McDormand started filming scenes for Nomadland just three months after the actor's second Oscar win.

    Frances McDormand giving her acceptance speech at the 90th Academy Awards
    Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    They met up at Zhao's home in Ojai to figure out how they'd film scenes inside such a small, confined space.

    14. And that evening, while they were in the van, McDormand got an upset stomach from dinner and really took a dump in a five-gallon bucket.

    Fern sitting on a toilet bucket, having diarrhea
    Searchlight Pictures

    "I literally experienced a not-very-pleasant thing, but it was really great because we filmed some stuff," McDormand told the Hollywood Reporter.

    15. Wall Drug is a very real place. In fact, it's one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Dakota.

    Fern scraping a griddle top clean
    Searchlight Pictures

    Learn more here.

    16. One of the film's producers, Peter Spears, has a small role in the film as, well, Peter. He's one of the other people at David's son's home.

    Peter acting in the movie opposite Frances and a behind-the-scenes shot on set
    Searchlight Pictures

    Spears was also a producer on Call Me By Your Name, which he ALSO had a cameo in.

    17. And finally, the Autumn Leaves plates Fern said were given to her by her father in the movie were REALLY gifted to McDormand by her own father when she graduated from college.

    Fern holding an old dish with autumn leaves on it
    Searchlight Pictures

    Cute, right?

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