It’s a genre-defining romantic comedy that tells the story of a woman, whose entire life unknowingly depends on whether she catches a particular train trip.
And as Sliding Doors celebrates its 25th anniversary since its release, we take a look at behind-the-scenes secrets from the film’s set in the late ’90s.
After rising to stardom after her breakthrough role in the Peter Pan spin-off Hook, Gwyneth Paltrow has been lined up as the cult classic’s leading lady.
The actress, who was 24 at the time, starred as Helen opposite John Hannah as her love interest James, who comes into her life after picking up her earrings from the floor in an elevator from a London Underground station.
In one reality, Helen takes the train and sits next to James, before returning home to discover her boyfriend Gerry in bed with his American ex-girlfriend, Lydia.
Iconic: Sliding Doors celebrates its 25th anniversary since its release, we take a look at behind-the-scenes secrets from the film’s set in the late 90s
Helen packs her things and moves in with her friend Anna, before striking up a romantic relationship with James, whom she had met in the tube.
In an alternate reality, Helen misses the same train and is then assaulted when she gets off the next one, leaving her in the hospital and ultimately failing to catch Gerry and Lydia red-handed.
The film then follows the two narratives as viewers watch how Helen’s life unfolds after the “sliding doors” moment alters her future.
Speaking about his experience working with Gwyneth at a recent 25th anniversary screening of Sliding Doors, director Peter Howitt suggested the star was stubborn from a young age.
He admitted that some of the filming – it was his first directing – had been difficult and at one point Gwyneth, then just 24, told him: “Forget it, Pete.”
The event was moderated by Jennie Becker, Founder and Host of the Podcast Sliding Doors which discusses life-changing moments.
She recently released a new mini-series on the podcast titled, SD25which features interviews with the cast and director of the film.
During a segment with John Hannah, the actor described the hilarious behind-the-scenes moment Gwyneth, now a health and lifestyle guru, discovered a British “chip butty.” [a bread roll with chio while shooting in London.
John said: ‘Before we started shooting, you know how the crew all go and do reccys, they check out various locations and stuff.
Starring role: After shooting to stardom following her breakthrough role in Peter Pan spin-off Hook, Gwyneth Paltrow was lined up as the leading lady in the cult classic
‘So we had a little mini bus one day and we did a reccy of the locations, that doesn’t sound much but I don’t think I’ve ever been invited onto a reccy on any other job that I’ve done.
‘We went round and looked at places and said that’s where we’ll do that and this, then we said let’s go and get some lunch.
‘We got some fish and chips from some famous chippy on Marlebone Road, I remember I had a bread roll with my fish and chips and I made a chip butty.
‘Gwyneth was just like “what? what are you doing? that’s carbs on carbs!” I was like, “it’s a roll of chips, it’s brilliant.”
Offering his opinion on co-staring with Gwyneth, he said: ‘It was terrific. I thought she was great. She was fun, she was present, she was great, her accent was great.
‘She played two characters with an accent.’
He went on to give another nugget of information about what went on behind the scenes, revealing that they previously considered another male lead before him.
Chance meeting: The actress, who was 24 at the time, starred as Helen opposite John Hannah as her love interest James, who comes into her life after he picks her earrings up off the floor at in a lift at a London Underground tube station
John said they wanted someone taller, but eventually fixed the logistical issue.
He said: ‘She [Gwyneth] was taller than me, but they can still put lifts in my shoes. I got Tom Cruise lifts, I felt like I made it, you know.
“At first they were going to have a bigger actor, but then they got me and just made me bigger. But it was awesome, it was a great feeling and Pete was lovely. It was a good experience.’
Elsewhere during Episode 2 of the podcast series, Peter revealed how they helped audiences figure out which timeline they were watching.
Peter said: “We had so many conversations in pre-production about how we would let the public know where he is. How are we going to ensure that there is no confusion?
“We didn’t want it to be confusing, what’s the point? You want it to be watchable and fun, so we decided one story was on the left and the other was on the right.
What would it be? The film then follows the two narratives as viewers watch how Helen’s life unfolds after the “sliding doors” moment alters her future.
‘I don’t need you to know, I just hope that somewhere unconsciously, the fact that we go from G to J history [Gerry and James]. We would move from left to right.
“For example, when they are both drunk at the end of the first night and Anna brings Helen into the bedroom, she brings her from left to right.
“And Gerry brings her home and puts her on the bed and he walks her in from right to left. We didn’t know if this would help, but subconsciously we were hoping it would put the story on another side of your brain.
“We didn’t want the audience to say ‘oh, I know what they’re doing’, look at those on the left and those on the right. It wasn’t meant to be so specific.
“But we wanted to help the audience, because we didn’t want them to get lost, because if they get lost, they’ll stop watching.”
Another key – and probably the most notable – difference between each tale is Gwyneth’s hairstyle.
The film’s producer, Phillipa Braithwaiste, revealed the exorbitant cost of the haircut because Gwyneth insisted on bringing in her own hairstylist.
She said, “We decided on the hairstyle pretty early because when we went to present to all these film companies, most people really liked it to be fair, but weren’t quite sure how we were going to do it.
“I think at first Peter and I made a good decision that we were just going to cut his hair and in the other have it long, his real hair was the short hair and probably the most expensive haircut in the world. story because Gwyneth rightly – she had great hair – wanted her hairstylist to come from New York, so we had to fly him in.
“It ended up costing £5,000 for this haircut. Then we had a wig made, the long hair was the wig.