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11 Things You Didn't Know About "Empire Records"

What happens when the cast, director, and screenwriter stop by BuzzFeed LA to celebrate 20 years of Empire Records? Find out!

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You guys, it's been 20 — yep, count 20 — years since everyone's favorite record store employees bust into our lives. That's right: Empire Records. To celebrate the epic achievement of the little movie that could, BuzzFeed LA threw a special screening and invited cast members Ethan Embry, Robin Tunney, Johnny Whitworth, and Coyote Shivers along with director Allan Moyle and screenwriter Carol Heikkinen.

And luckily for everyone, the group participated in a live Q&A and revealed some awesome secrets from the set. Check it out!

Joyce Lee for BuzzFeed

1. The movie was inspired by screenwriter Carol Heikkinen's experiences working at a record store.

Carol worked at Tower Records in Phoenix while in high school and also worked at Tower Video in West Hollywood while in college. Carol said, "That was the best job I've ever had... it's like your family."

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2. And each character is based off of a real person Carol worked with.

That's right, there's a real Berko out there — same name and everything. And the woman who inspired Corey (Liv Tyler) made an appearance at the Q&A!

3. The studio wanted all "famous people and pretty people," according to Allan. Because, you know, Hollywood.

They even asked Allan to get a couple of the actors' teeth fixed! Of course, they said "damn the man!" and didn't do it.
Joyce Lee for BuzzFeed

They even asked Allan to get a couple of the actors' teeth fixed! Of course, they said "damn the man!" and didn't do it.

4. Also, the studio straight up changed the title.

That's right, it was originally called Empire. Thankfully, the title got switched, which ended up saving people a lot confusion in 2015.

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5. The amazing chemistry shown onscreen was due to a whole month of rehearsals and bonding time for the actors.

"Allan Moyle loves to make a movie that ends in a big party — he loves a party," Robin said. "I think that during the whole process none of us understood that the bonding and the stuff we were doing was work. It was bonding us and it came onscreen and I think we were all really spoiled because the rest of your career, we don't get to do that now. And we were doing pilates in the morning — nobody even heard of that! Hungover. You're kind of looking at each like, this is acting?"

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6. Debra's shaved head was totally not in the script.

"Allan came to me and he's like, 'I think the studio wants to fire you 'cause they think you're kind of too cute to be depressed," Robin said. "I was like, 'Well, I could shave my head.'

And then I shaved my head, which made everyone very nervous 'cause it was live so if the film got damaged or anything went wrong, we could not do that over again. [Allan] just loved pushing the boundaries and that's why the film feels authentic."

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7. And that GWAR scene? Pitched by Ethan.

Allan admitted that he had never even heard of GWAR so it's funny that he's been "getting credit for something that came from [Ethan's] fertile imagination."
Joyce Lee for BuzzFeed

Allan admitted that he had never even heard of GWAR so it's funny that he's been "getting credit for something that came from [Ethan's] fertile imagination."

8. Coyote hated dancing and tried to get out of every dancing scene he could.

"Any scene where there's dancing, I always thought of an excuse," Coyote said. "My character was out back smoking, my character was in jail so I couldn't dance."

9. Ethan and James "Kimo" Wills got into some trouble.

Robin told the crowd about a time when Ethan and Kimo decided to buy some cap guns to ~liven~ up the day. Unfortunately for them, cap guns + public parking lot = trouble."[Ethan] and Kimo got hauled off to the pokey and it was on the evening news. And they intercut footage of Ethan from movies he's done and they were like, 'Child actor goes crazy in mall parking lot.'"Ethan added, "I got charged with five counts of assault!"
Joyce Lee for BuzzFeed

Robin told the crowd about a time when Ethan and Kimo decided to buy some cap guns to ~liven~ up the day. Unfortunately for them, cap guns + public parking lot = trouble.

"[Ethan] and Kimo got hauled off to the pokey and it was on the evening news. And they intercut footage of Ethan from movies he's done and they were like, 'Child actor goes crazy in mall parking lot.'"

Ethan added, "I got charged with five counts of assault!"

10. If you couldn't tell, putting together a bunch of young actors was a recipe for a lot of fun aka debauchery. Well, except for one particular adult.

Robin said, "It didn't feel like anarchy to us but I think it did to the adults and Anthony LaPaglia was just tortured he was like the one adult."

How bad was it? Apparently at one point, Ethan crashed his golf cart into Anthony's brand-new car.

11. One thing that the cast agreed on? The surprise that Empire Records became such a cult classic.

"I don't think anyone of us thought that the film as a whole would be this popular 20 years later, and everything like that, it really has taken a life of its own," Coyote said.
Joyce Lee for BuzzFeed

"I don't think anyone of us thought that the film as a whole would be this popular 20 years later, and everything like that, it really has taken a life of its own," Coyote said.

A massive THANK YOU to everyone who participated! Here's to another 20 years of "Say No More, Mon Amour."

Check out more from our Empire Records Q&A below:

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