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The Help out October 26 – Fun Facts

25 October 2011

Based on the beloved New York Times bestselling novel, "The Help," is the story of three extraordinary women in the deep South in 1962. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but her mother will not be happy until Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid, Constantine, the woman who raised her, but she has disappeared, and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both hearts may be broken. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi.

She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

To celebrate the release of The Help, which is in cinemas from Wednesday October 26, we have put together some brilliant fun facts from behind the scenes from the film set. Make sure you check these out, so you can be in the know on all the trivia & knowledge from The Help...

• The film is based on the phenomenal New York Times best-selling book by Kathryn Stockett. With 3 million copies in print, “The Help” remained on the NYT best-seller list for 103 weeks, six of which were at No. 1.

• Produced by Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, and directed and written for the screen by Tate Taylor, “The Help” is a deeply moving, poignant film about the ability to create change.

• Tate Taylor directed and wrote the screenplay for “The Help.” Both he and the author of the novel, Kathryn Stockett, were childhood friends and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, where the book is based.

• “The Help” boasts an illustrious cast, including Academy Award® nominee Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Oscar® winner Sissy Spacek and Academy Award® nominee Cicely Tyson.

• Growing up in Jackson, Miss., in the 1970s, both director Tate Taylor and author Kathryn Stockett had maids (whom both refer to as their “co-mothers”) who cared for them while their mothers worked. Taylor’s “co-mother,” Carol Lee, has a small part in the film.

• The film was shot on location in and around Greenwood, Miss., and the citizens of Greenwood willingly pitched in to find period props for the film by digging around in their attics and basements, and many played extras in “The Help” as well. Even producer Brunson Green’s grandmother’s dress wound up in wardrobe.

• Octavia Spencer, who plays Minny in the film, is a longtime friend of director Tate Taylor, having met him when they both worked on a film. The two eventually became roommates in LA for four years. In addition, producer Brunson Green (also from Jackson, Miss.) is also a longtime friend of both Taylor and Spencer and the three used to hang out together, occasionally with Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help.”

• While growing up in Jackson, Miss., Tate Taylor, Kathryn Stockett and Brunson Green would regularly be treated to milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches at Brent’s Pharmacy soda fountain. The production was able to recreate the real Brent’s Pharmacy as it was back when they were children.

• Local chefs were brought in to make sure foods used in the scenes, from fried chicken to congealed salads, were regionally correct and also correct for the times, and a conscious effort was made to make it all look homemade—not fancy or store-bought—to add to the authenticity of the film.

• Cast members spent a whole day in a ballroom learning how to do period dances, including the bunny hop—taught by Sissy Spacek.

• A dialect coach, hired to make sure everyone’s southern accent was perfect, flew into Jackson, Miss., to record accents for the actors.  Even the real southerners in the cast were coached in the proper way of speaking specifically for the Mississippi Delta. Allison Janney picked Producer Brunson Green’s mother’s accent to emulate for her character, Charlotte. In 1963, Mrs. Green was the same age as the character Skeeter, played by Emma Stone.

•  The mothers of Tate Taylor, Kathryn Stockett and Brunson Green all have appearances in “The Help.”

• Due to the intense summer heat in Mississippi, the filmmakers adjusted the schedule to shoot only indoors in the middle of the day. Exteriors were shot in the early morning and late afternoon.

• Director Tate Taylor grew up visiting Greenwood, Miss., as a child and would later spend nights in the home used for the interior of Skeeter Phelan’s house. Taylor was college buddies with the homeowner’s son.

• The Mayflower Café, a Jackson, Miss. landmark, where Stuart and Skeeter eat oysters in the movie, is one of Director Tate Taylor’s favorite restaurants. It is the place where Taylor ate his first raw oyster as a child. 

• The movie theater that Skeeter observes in the beginning of THE HELP while getting gas was the theater Director Tate Taylor went to as a child. It closed down in the 1980s and was brought back to life by the production crew. The gas station is a yoga studio today, but was transformed back into a gas station for the shoot.

The Help Film Page