Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Menu: 13 Delicious Facts About The Movie That Fans Will Gobble Up

"The Menu," the beautifully shot and wonderfully acted film starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, and Ralph Fiennes, is full of twists and turns. It opens with Tyler (Hoult) and Margot (Taylor-Joy), a young couple presumably on a date. They are on their way to an island to dine on an expensive feast. Tyler is a dedicated foodie and takes the meal very seriously, while Margot thinks it's all a bit pretentious. Tyler and Margot are joined by an eccentric cast of characters who have all come to the island to taste the world-renowned food of Chef Julian Slowik (Fiennes), who has planned the entire evening down to the second.

While the other guests are mindlessly enjoying their thousand-dollar meals, Margot begins to suspect something is amiss, and her instincts are spot-on. What follows is an equal parts shocking and hilarious send-up of foodie culture and the pretension of the rich folks who would dine at such a place. As the mysterious outsider at the table, Margot can see through Julian's performance and unearth his true intentions.

"The Menu" perfectly balances horror and comedy, a sleight of hand that takes considerable talent on the part of those behind and in front of the camera. If you're wondering how exactly the wild world of the film came together, then you're in the right place. Keep reading to discover the mouth-watering facts behind the making of "The Menu." Spoilers ahead.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult got really into improvising

"The Menu" is a very tightly wound film with a lot of precision, but that doesn't mean there wasn't room for improvisation on set. Stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult revealed that they had plenty of time to improvise together while filming. In a video segment for Vanity Fair, Taylor-Joy explained that director Mark Mylod wanted all the actors to be improvising while the camera was on other characters and they were sitting in the background. Taylor-Joy revealed that she and Hoult "committed to the improv, like, pretty hardcore the first couple of days."

Taylor-Joy also confessed that she improvised a line during a scene with Ralph Fiennes — and was terrified afterwards. During the scene in question, Margot primly tells Chef Slowik "thank you" as he's leaving their table, and it's clearly a passive-aggressive move on her part. Taylor-Joy recalls adding the line and thinking, "Oh god, Ralph Fiennes is going to think I'm an absolute brat because that was not scripted." Mylod kept her ad-lib in the film, and she felt vindicated as a result.

John Leguizamo based his character on Steven Seagal

John Leguizamo plays Georgie Diaz, a washed-up action star who's pompous and arrogant. He's clearly passed his prime but still behaves as if he's on top of the world. As it turns out, Leguizamo based his performance on a real actor: former co-star, Steven Seagal. "I modeled after Steven Seagal because I did a movie with him and in rehearsals, he knocked me out and he didn't care," Leguizamo told The Ultimate Rabbit. He also called Seagal "a bit of an a-hole and a bully."

As the story goes, Seagal shoved Leguizamo against a wall after losing his temper. Leguizamo brought up the fact that he used Seagal as his inspiration for "The Menu" in another interview with Entertainment Weekly, confirming that the film they clashed on was 1996's "Executive Decision," one of Seagal's better-rated movies. "I had a bad run-in with him," Leguizamo said. "He's kind of a horrible human."

Nicholas Hoult had a lot of eating to do

One of the central tensions in "The Menu" is the fact that Margot doesn't want to eat the food Chef Slowik has so painstakingly prepared for her. Tyler, on the other hand, is in his element. What this meant for Anya Taylor-Joy was that she didn't have to spend much of the film eating, unlike Nicholas Hoult. Taylor-Joy discussed how impressed she was with Hoult's eating abilities during an interview with BBC Radio 1, revealing that he "attacked every take with so much gusto and fervor" and somehow managed to keep it all down. Hoult told Vanity Fair that the hardest day on set was when he gorged himself on bread, a day that Taylor-Joy described as "BreadGate."

While Hoult spends much of the film eating, the other actors on set were often left hungry. John Leguizamo revealed to CinemaBlend that he was always ravenous on set and that he got Five Guys for the entire cast and crew after they had to sit through the film's burger scene. Leguizamo and co-star Aimee Carrero described how difficult it was to sit in their chairs all day and smell burgers being made nearby without actually getting to eat them. They also revealed that not all of the food in the film is what it seems — the scallop, for example, was just a raw potato.

One small sound effect took them weeks to perfect

One of the most overlooked aspects of filmmaking is the all-important realm of sound effects. You don't always notice them, but good sound effects can have a huge impact on a movie. For "The Menu," there was one sound effect they spent weeks working on. Director Mike Mylod told Vanity Fair that one of the hardest sounds to perfect was the breaking of Tyler's wine glass, which smashes into pieces after he accidentally knocks it to the ground.

Mylod described it as the moment in a film when things get tense and the dramatic strings come in. He wanted the glass-shattering moment to produce a similar unease in the audience, without the obvious suspenseful soundtrack. Mylod revealed that it took about two weeks of tinkering in order to get the sound just right, but that it's worth it when you're watching the film in a big theater.

Anya Taylor-Joy chipped in with her own experience of the scene, noting that perfecting the noise she made was just as difficult. She described the sound she comes out with when the glass shatters as a "squeal," and explained that she "did that maybe like 79 times in ADR [Automated Dialogue Replacement] to get the right level of squeal." It's time-consuming work, but these are the kind of small touches that turn a good film into a great film.

French chef Dominique Crenn helped create the food

If the high-dining experience shown in "The Menu" feels very real, that's because a real-life superstar chef was a consultant on the film. French chef Dominique Crenn — the only woman in the U.S. with a three-Michelin-star restaurant — worked to make the menu described in the script a reality. Crenn crafted many of the dishes herself, often re-doing them several times when scenes required numerous takes, per The Hollywood Reporter. One dish, which features a scallop balanced atop a rock, is a near-replica of a dish at Crenn's own restaurant, San Francisco's Atelier Crenn.

Crenn told The Hollywood Reporter that "every dish was created in a way that the actor could feel and eat with emotion." She also spoke with Ralph Fiennes about the psychological aspects of his character, describing how "mentally exhausting" it is to be the head of a restaurant of that stature. Does Crenn see herself as a mad genius like Chef Slowik? "I'm not as crazy as he is, but I understand his way of thinking," she told Bon Appétit.

The movie was filmed like an episode of Chef's Table

Nicholas Hoult's Tyler is the resident foodie in "The Menu." He's not a chef himself, but he's obsessed with the world of food. As such, Tyler has obviously watched every episode of the Netflix docu-series "Chef's Table," something he proudly admits to. If you've watched "Chef's Table" yourself, you might have noticed some similarities between how that series and "The Menu" were shot. These similarities were intentional: "Chef's Table" creator David Gelb was actually hired as a second-unit director on the film, reports The New York Times.

Gelb's entire purpose for being on set was to film the restaurant and the staff in exactly the same way an episode of "Chef's Table" would be shot. Fans of the series will likely recognize the slow-motion close-ups and the focus on small details — the bright heat of a blue flame, the precision of a hand laying down a tiny piece of food on a plate. "I am honored to have had a number of parodies of the work," Gelb noted.

The film's climax is also a reference to "Chef's Table." Director Mike Mylod told The Hollywood Reporter that the final s'mores dish was an homage to a dessert made by Grant Achatz at his restaurant in Chicago, which was featured in an episode of "Chef's Table." Achatz's dessert is laid out over the entire table, which Mylod expanded to encompass the entire restaurant. The aerial shot of the s'mores dish is a tribute to that specific dessert, but also to the cinematography of "Chef's Table" as a whole.

The actors stayed on set all day

On an average day of shooting a film, actors have a certain amount of downtime. They're often able to go to their trailers and relax while other actors are shooting scenes that don't involve them. That was not the case with "The Menu," as director Mike Mylod wanted every actor to be on set at all times. Anya Taylor-Joy told JoBlo that Mylod wanted all the actors to be wearing microphones while on set and reminded everyone that he was going to be shooting 360-degree coverage of them at all times.

Taylor-Joy explained that Mylod told the actors "you'd better be performing because the camera might be on you, like at any moment, and that will end up in the film." She described how fun this type of work environment was, and how it created "a sense of camaraderie" between the actors. Taylor-Joy went on to say that even when there was a brief moment where the actors could have left the set — if someone else was filming a close-up, for example — they all chose to stay and watch each other work. "It was such a joy to be able to have front-row seats to these performances," she said.

Hong Chau fought hard to make Elsa more interesting

"The Menu" is quite a mysterious film in which the backgrounds of some characters are left in the dark. That's especially true of Elsa, the austere hostess character played by Hong Chau. Speaking with Awards Radar, Chau described the process of deepening the character of Elsa, which involved a lot of conversations with director Mike Mylod. She explained that she was shooting a movie in Portland, Oregon when she got the role, and she wanted to bring some of the city's "funkiness" to the character.

Chau had her own ideas about how Elsa should look (including shaving her eyebrows), though Mylod wasn't especially receptive to them, at least at first. Chau explained that Mylod and the writers "were imagining that Elsa would be very plain and not stand out, that her clothes would sort of lack any personality." Luckily, Chau found an ally in Amy Westcott, the film's costume designer — and also the director's wife.

Amy Westcott "was very willing to conspire with me against Mike Mylod," Chau went on to explain. The outfit they ended up with — a sort of modern Victorian look — is unique enough to give Elsa some personality, but not too zany that it contradicts the serious atmosphere at the restaurant.

The co-writers brought The Onion to The Menu

"The Menu" was written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, two comedians who have plenty of experience in satire. Reiss spent several years at "Late Night With Seth Meyers" and Tracy worked on "Succession," and both screenwriters previously worked for The Onion. Of all their career experiences, it was their time at the satirical news website that proved to be most influential in the making of "The Menu." Reiss told Slash Film that "this is a very Onion-y type of movie in terms of how specific the world is that we're creating, the language that goes into that, and then also how sad everyone is."

There's another connection between "The Menu" and The Onion that goes beyond just comedy writing. According to Bon Appétit, EL Ideas, the Chicago restaurant of chef Phillip Foss, was a "key influence" on the film. A fan of The Onion's content, Foss once asked if he could sit in on a pitch meeting to observe the creative process. "To see him really wanting to hang out and just watch other people put something together was really cool," Reiss told Bon Appétit. Foss later invited Reiss and Tracy into his kitchen, and they quickly realized that the process was very similar when it came to creating new dishes. "That's when I saw the chef as an artist, or the chef as a collaborator," Reiss said.

Judith Light was once a restaurant owner herself

Judith Light is a veteran Hollywood actor, known for her vast body of work on television, in film, and on Broadway. She has a small but important part in "The Menu," that of Anne, a wealthy woman who frequents the restaurant with her husband but doesn't seem to enjoy the food all that much. Speaking with Cinema Daily, Light explained that she's a foodie herself, something that drew her to the role. "I'm a cook, my husband's a cook, we had a restaurant in Aspen, Colorado," she said. "I'm fascinated by that — by the chemistry of cooking, by the joy of giving to other people, and that's always been a big thing for me."

Light went on to say that she grew up in "a family of female cooks," which is why it was such a pleasure to see the famous French chef Dominique Clemm in action during the shoot. "The experience of her is watching a great artist," the actor said. "There's a kind of beauty and simplicity and centeredness, and a very Zen quality that she carries within her, where she is the creation."

Like the film's co-writers, Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, Light sees chefs as the kindred spirits of actors and filmmakers. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said that acting and cooking are both extensions of the "service business." The Tony and Emmy Award winner pointed to how actors and chefs both work with a team to create something for the public, "so the ties that we all have are similar."

Nicholas Hoult and Anya Taylor-Joy's prep work was far from taxing

Certain roles require actors to do intense prep work, whether it be learning a new skill, perfecting an accent, or transforming their bodies. For the stars of "The Menu," preparation for the film was far more enjoyable. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Anya Taylor-Joy joked that "this was a very hard job in terms of research. Both Nick and I spent a lot of time on the couch watching 'Chef's Table.' It was really hard."

Nicholas Hoult's Tyler is obsessed with shows like "Chef's Table," so binge-watching the series was always going to be helpful for him. However, he didn't stop there. Taylor-Joy also revealed that Hoult went even further in his research, actually going out to eat at some of these fine-dining restaurants himself. "I went and ate nice food, because I had to," Hoult joked. When asked what his favorite restaurant was, he revealed that he loved eating at The Fat Duck, a restaurant run by the British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal.

The slap was unscripted

Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult have shared that they did a lot of improvising while their characters were sitting in the background, but there was one moment of improvisation that was front and center. Near the end of the film, Chef Slowik reveals to Margot (and the rest of the guests) the extent of Tyler's deception: He had known all along how the night would end and invited Margot anyway.

When Margot hears this, she slaps Tyler across the face. As Nicholas Hoult told BBC Radio 1, Tyler definitely deserved a slap in the face, but that moment wasn't actually in the script. Anya Taylor-Joy explained her decision, saying, "I have a thing about feminine rage." She went on to reveal that she often gets scripts that have men doing terrible things to women, and the women just sitting there and absorbing those terrible things, upset but not angry.

After reading the big reveal moment in the script, Taylor-Joy went up to director Mark Mylod and told him, "I'm really sorry, but the only way to play this truthfully is for me to like, attack him." Mylod eventually came around to Taylor-Joy's way of thinking, and she got to react to Tyler's betrayal authentically. How did Hoult feel about the slap? "I didn't like it," he joked. "I didn't like it one bit."

There's a reason Margot always has her back to the chef

Chef Slowik's menu for the evening was meticulously planned out, which is part of the reason why he doesn't take too kindly to the unexpected appearance of Margot. To make matters worse, Margot is entirely unreceptive to his brand of culinary genius and refuses to play along as one of his dutiful, awestruck guests. Most of Margot's stubbornness is in the script, of course, but Anya Taylor-Joy made a character choice on set that made her dislike of him even more explicit. Unfortunately, she put herself in a bit of pain in doing so.

She told BBC Radio 1 that she thought it was important that Margot have her back to the chef in order to illustrate how she really feels about him. What this meant in practice was that Taylor-Joy had to be constantly twisting around to look at Chef Slowik while he delivered his monologues about the food. "That essentially meant three months of the worst neck pain you could possibly imagine," she explained. Taylor-Joy expanded on the experience further in a video segment for Vanity Fair, noting that, despite the back problems it gave her, she "still maintain[s] that it was a good choice."