While many have speculated about which character actually represented Barry Levinson himself, the answer is none according to director Barry Levinson. Levinson says that each of the main characters represent a small part of his youth. Though of the five guy characters, it has been speculated by some of the actors who played them, that the character most resembling Levinson was William "Billy" Howard (Tim Daly)
Ellen Barkin said in 2000 that her character Beth remains the closest to how she felt in real life of any role she had ever played.
The film inspired a 1983 CBS television pilot Diner (1983) which was also written and directed by Barry Levinson. Mike Binder replaced Steve Guttenberg as Eddie, Paul Reiser reprized his role as Modell, Max Cantor replaced Daniel Stern as Shrevie, Michael Madsen replaced Mickey Rourke as Boogie whilst James Spader replaced Kevin Bacon as Fenwick. The TV pilot focused on the complaints of the wives, Elyse and Beth, that their husbands were spending too much time hanging at the diner with their friends. The thirty minute show is not available on the DVD as a bonus extra / special feature.
Barry Levinson wrote and directed this movie at the suggestion of Mel Brooks who Levinson had collaborated with during the mid to late 1970s on both Silent Movie (1976) and High Anxiety (1977).
All the lead characters had nicknames. They were "Eddie", "Shrevie", "Boogie", "Billy" and "Fen" / "Fenwick" which were respectively the nicknames for the characters Edward Simmons (Steve Guttenberg), Lawrence Schrieber (Daniel Stern), Robert Shefteil (Mickey Rourke), William Howard (Tim Daly) and Timothy Fenwick Junior (Kevin Bacon). |