ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

Some celebrities are totally savvy to the social media and internet game, knowing exactly how to play their fanbases like fiddles**. And sometimes, their fanbases play them. Not intentionally, mind you, but [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) actor J. August Richards learned the hard way that the best way to not fall for the things you read on the internet is to take all fan theories and speculation with a grain of salt.

What happened? Well, remember back when he was first cast in an unnamed role and everyone speculated he'd be playing Luke Cage? We know now that the role was for none other than the cybernetic Deathlok, but when those rumors were going around, Richards started paying attention...and then believing the hype. Rookie move, buddy.

As he said to, the fan theories got to him:

The fans got me. I have to be honest, the fans got me. Because the trailer came out and all of a sudden there was all of this speculation that I would be playing Luke Cage. And I was hearing it so much, that I started going, 'Well, maybe they just told me Mike Peterson was my name and maybe they're going to dub it in later. I mean, I must be playing Luke Cage because everybody says I'm playing Luke Cage.'
But then I realized how silly that was. I didn't play the guessing game. It was hinted to me at a certain point that I as going to be turned into an existing character and I did the research that I could. I Googled lost leg, burned face, I came up with a lot of different things but I didn't ultimately get it right, the guess.

If you're confused by his confusion, remember that Richards was kept largely uninformed about future big plot developments, including who his character was for the longest time. So he was as in the dark as the rest of us - totally understandable that the dude was curious and tried to figure it out on his own. And it seems he's still in the dark, as he's not sure whether or not Deathlok will be making a return to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for next season.

**Benedict Cumberbatch currently holds the title of unequivocal grand master at trolling his fanbase.

But lest you think Marvel and ABC are cruel mistresses for not letting Richards in on his own secrets, keep in mind this is a common practice in Hollywood and has been happening for decades. Here are a few other instances of plot twists shrouded in complete secrecy...even from the cast and crew involved.



BBC miniseries [Broadchurch](series:1103884), which Americans will soon know this fall by its remake, [Gracepoint](series:1136875), was a tightly wound, twisting whodunit that involved a fairly extensive cast, including Tenth Doctor David Tennant ("Allons-y!") in the lead role of Detective Inspector Alex Hardy. The audience didn't find out who the killer was until the last episode of the miniseries, and even then not until late in the episode.

As it turns out, neither did the cast, revealed writer Chris Chibnall to The Daily Mail. So determined was he to keep the cast from finding out which one of them did it that the truth was kept from them...for five. whole. months.

We adopted the kind of security you’d normally associate with a massive Hollywood movie. All of the scripts on set were kept in a safe, watermarked so they couldn’t be copied, and there were only five people, including myself, who knew the full story.

For 85 per cent of filming, no one had any idea who was guilty. The cast and crew set up a rogues’ gallery and took bets on who they thought it was, but I was determined that secrecy was the key to the drama’s success.

As we were coming to the point where we had to give people final scripts, I organised for everyone to meet at the beach so that I could tell them.

But on set the night before, so many people admitted they liked the suspense and didn’t want to know who it was, that when I arrived I told them I’d changed my mind.

Olivia Colman, who plays one of the investigating police officers, looked like she was ready to murder me, while David Tennant grabbed hold of me and said he couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to tell him. But then he admitted he was actually glad.

Eventually, only the actors who were deemed on the "need to know" list were told via phone calls just a few hours before they were set to begin shooting. Which means some of the cast never found out who was revealed as the murderer until the night the series finale aired. Madness.



Veteran British actor Jared Harris is one savvy dude. He's been in the industry for 25 years, and he knows how the game is played. In other words, this ain't his first rodeo.

So when he learned that his [Mad Men](series:200778) character, Lane Pryce, would hang himself at the end of Season 5, Harris decided he wouldn't go out like no punk. He wanted to avoid the frenzy of speculation that had surrounded other famous character deaths, such as Ned Stark in [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) and Shane Walsh in [The Walking Dead](series:201193), where savvy fans picked up that respective actors Sean Bean and Jon Bernthal had signed contracts for new jobs that would conflict with the filming of the shows they were currently on.

Harris was so dedicated to the idea of keeping his death completely under wraps from being spoiled that he didn't even tell his own agent, Brad Schenck. In fact, as he'd just signed a 3-year option with the show the season before, he kept up the facade and didn't even bother to throw his hat into the ring for upcoming TV projects for the next season, knowing full well he would be killed off of his current show without another job lined up.

There was a pilot season that came and went that I didn't put myself up for because, obviously, if I was hired to do another show, people would know that something had happened.

Cagey veteran status: Achieved.



When the gang behind 80s sitcom Newhart decided to bring the show to a close after a great 8-year run, they went full meta with the finale. Like...meta to the point of completely mindf**king the audience.

See, a few years before Newhart aired, star Bob Newhart had also played the character Dr. Bob Hartley in a previous popular sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show. Bob. Newhart. Bob Newhart. See? Even the titles and character names are getting meta already. So in one of the most memorable moment in TV history, it was decided that it would be revealed at the very end of the finale that the entire 8 years of Newhart had simply been a dream that Dr. Bob Hartley had dreamed.

Dr. Bob Hartley, as in...the character from his previous sitcom. They even got actress Suzanne Pleshette, who had played his wife in The Bob Newhart Show to reprise her role 12 years later for the sake of the insane plot twist that has now become legendary.

Naturally, with such a crazy ending, those in the knew went to insane lengths to keep it from being spoiled, including keeping it from almost the entire cast and crew. And they never had an actual script for the finale, instead creating a fake script that they deliberately leaked in order to throw fans and media off the scent.

Keep in mind, Newhart was filmed in front of a live studio audience, so to keep the appearance of Pleshette from spoiling things, they snuck her into the studio, ninja-style, and kept her hidden away until it was time for her to walk on set for the very last scene.

Audience mind? BLOWN.


What are some other crazy lengths the people behind a TV show or movie have gone to to keep a plot twist or finale secret? Let me know in the comments!


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