20 Kick-Ass Secrets About Charlie's Angels Revealed

Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu starred in the 2000 movie adaptation of the iconic '70s TV series, but Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek almost were cast.

By Tierney Bricker Dec 02, 2023 5:00 PMTags
Watch: Drew Barrymore Invites Savannah Guthrie to Join Charlie's Angels 3

Good morning, Charlie!

More than 20 years ago, Drew BarrymoreCameron Diaz and Lucy Liu teamed up to completely dominate the box office in Charlie's Angels, the big screen adaptation of the iconic 1970s TV series. Made for $93 million, the action flick, which served as McG's directorial debut, went on to make a whopping $264 million. (A hit sequel followed in 2003 and Kristen Stewart starred in the 2019 reboot.)

While Charlie's Angels was ultimately a massive success, due in large part to the chemistry among its three leads, it was anything but heavenly behind the scenes. We're talking many rewrites, even more writers brought in to try and fix the script, tensions between some of the stars and one actor refusing to say any of his lines. Plus, the leading trio from the original TV series refused multiple offers to make appearances.

Yeah, we'd so be down for a movie about the making of the 2000 version of Charlie's Angels, too.

Lucy Liu's Best Looks

Here are 20 behind-the-scenes facts about Charlie's Angels, including the shocking on-set physical fight that went down...

1. While filming Never Been Kissed, Drew Barrymore's best friend and producing partner Nancy Juvonen told her Sony Pictures was looking to reboot Charlie's Angels, so the pair asked for a meeting. 

"All they really had at that point was a concept, so we told them what we would want to do, how we would want to cast it, how we see the world, handpicked the director, on and on and on, and we got to make the movie," Barrymore told Elle. "And it was just the most fun thing in the world."

For her pitch, she took an unusual approach. "I put together a reel of films, like smashed up and I had to do it VCR-to-VCR so I hooked up two VCRs together and again, I'm a girl and I'm a Pisces, this is just a disaster, it was like cords everywhere," she explained. "[But] I pulled about 200 different films [from my personal library] that I thought had scenes in them that…could show the studio what kind of tone I saw for this film."

2. One of Barrymore's main stipulations? Banning the Angels from using guns. 

3. Close friends since they were teens, Barrymore, who played Angel Dylan, immediately thought of Cameron Diaz for the role of Natalie.

"Drew called me up and said, 'I'm doing Charlie's Angels and you have to do it with me,'" Diaz told The Morning Call. "'She said, 'It will be girls jumping out of helicopters, driving fast boats, doing kung fu and wearing tons of hot clothes.' I said, 'Sign me up.'"

4. Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and more were all reportedly considered for the third and final Angel before Lucy Liu secured the role of Alex. "We saw a lot of great girls but the chemistry was missing,' Diaz explained. "And then Lucy came into the room and we just went, 'She's the one.'"

Barrymore added, "When I met Lucy, I knew I found my sister."

5. The producers tried to lure the original Angels—Farrah Fawcett, Jacyln Smith and Kate Jackson—back for cameos, but they never came to fruition. 

Per The Morning Call, Jackson wanted to play Vivian, the villain role that ultimately went to Kelly Lynch, while Fawcett requested to be the new voice of Charlie. Smith, who agreed to do a walk-on role, ended up appearing in the 2003 sequel.

"I had three months of on-going discussions with them," Leonard Goldberg, who produced the original '70 series, claimed. "We offered them good money and we offered to let them choose or design their own costumes, which they could keep. But it didn't work out."

6. Barrymore was such a Potterhead during production that she read aloud from the J.K. Rowling-penned books to keep crew members entertained. And while it ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor, there was originally "an ode to Harry Potter," per director McG, who told People, "Drew dressed up as Harry Potter to go undercover."

7. Crispin Glover's silent assassin the Thin Man wasn't originally scripted to be mute until the Back to the Future actor came in to meet with McG. As Glove told The Guardian, "The dialogue was just expositional."

8. After portraying Bosley in the first film, Bill Murray did not return for the sequel, with Bernie Mac taking over the Angel-minding duties. And the details surrounding his exit are pretty dramatic, with director McG claiming the Ghostbusters star head-butted him on set during an argument. Murray denied the claim in an interview with the Times of London. "That's bulls--t! That's complete crap!" he said. "I don't know why he made that story up. He has a very active imagination…No! He deserves to die! He should be pierced with a lance, not head-butted."

9. In addition to his spat with McG, there were reports of tension between Murray and Liu—he allegedly told her she couldn't act, leading her to punch him in the face—another claim the actor weighed in on during his Times interview. 

"Look, I will dismiss you completely if you are unprofessional and working with me," he explained. "When our relationship is professional, and you're not getting that done, forget it."

Liu, meanwhile, told Morning Call there were "creative differences" but they quickly made up an hour later" "Bill actually made our performances better."

10. In 2014's The Body Book, Diaz revealed she was in poor physical health when she signed on to the movie.  "I was 26 years old. I had just quit smoking. I had poor eating habits. I had no strength," she wrote. "Then I was cast in the Charlie's Angels movie."

She continued, "The day I started martial arts training...was a pivotal moment in my life in terms of my physical fitness. It was the first time someone showed me what my very own body had the potential to do. Before then, I had no concept of the extent to which my body could be trained to be that strong and capable."

11. The main trio trained eight hours a day, five days a week for three months with legendary kung-fu master Cheung-yan Yuen, who trained Keanu Reeves for The Matrix.

In an interview with The Morning Call, Barrymore admitted, "We were so sore after our initial sessions that we went to Cameron's house, took a bath in Epsom salts and cried."

12. Destiny's Child recorded "Independent Women" as the movie's theme song, which went on to spend 11 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.

13. While romance wasn't initially part of the script, Barrymore ultimately gave each Angel a love interest, with Luke Wilson, Tom Green and Matt LeBlanc all taking supporting roles.

"Look, I'm sorry, girls want love at the end of the day," she explained to Elle. "We want sisterhood, we want to have each other's backs and then we want to meet back up in the morning and talk all about what happened at night with the boy. It's what girls do!"

14. Barrymore and Green met on set and quickly fell in love, with McG telling DVD Talk, "I had the good fortune of being there the day they met. And I'm such a knucklehead, I didn't really even notice the chemistry. It's like both of them are like 'I was in love with you at first sight,' and I'm like, 'I didn't notice.' You know, they were like falling in love and I'm sitting there trying to talk to Tom Green about his show. I'm just like in space. I guess I was just so excited to be talking to Tom Green."

The pair would go on to marry in July 2001 but divorced just six months later. 

15. McG had Barrymore film a scene in the house from E.T. the Extra-Terrestial as a subtle homage to the iconic movie.

16. The script reportedly underwent 30 re-writes from dozens writers.

17. One of the movie's most iconic scenes is Diaz's Natalie dancing in her underwear around her house. "Cameron didn't even take too much time learning this choreography," McG told Vogue. "She's just such a natural athlete. She got it together within an hour of rehearsal."

18. Diaz co-designed some of the outfits, including the look Natalie wears on her date to Soul Train. "Cameron went absolutely nuts and had a really good time," McG said of the star's collaboration with costume designer Joseph Aulisi.

19. In an interview with Vulture, Thandie Newton revealed she turned down the part of Alex, explaining she as uncomfortable after conversations with Amy Pascal, then the head of Sony Pictures.

"She's basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character," Newton said. "Everything she said, I was like, 'Nah, I wouldn't do that.' She's like, 'Yeah, but you're different. You're different.' That was Amy Pascal. That's not really a surprise, is it? Let's face it: I didn't do the movie as a result."

20. Nia Long also addressed her issues with the casting process for the movie, alleging to Insider she was told she was "too old" next to Barrymore and Diaz to be cast as Alex. (Long is two years younger than Liu.)

"I was like, 'What?" Long reflected. "I love Drew Barrymore, I think she's amazing, but I think that was just a nice way to say you're a little too Black. Personally, that's what I think. Because if you notice there were no brown skin [actors]. I mean, honestly, I would have been the blackest thing in the film."

This story was originally published on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 at 3 p.m. PT.