The Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why tells the story of high schooler Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) who commits suicide after being bullied by her peers. She leaves behind 13 cassette tapes, each dedicated to a person who led her to kill herself. The show follows Clay Jenson (Dylan Minnette) as he listens to these tapes and tries to figure out what happened to his friend.
It Was Originally Going to Be A Movie-Starring Selena Gomez
In 2011, Universal bought the rights to Jay Asher’s novel. They were planning on adapting the bestseller into a film with Disney star Selena Gomez as Hannah Baker. However, that version never happened and in 2015 it was announced that Netflix would make a series instead with Gomez serving as an executive producer.
Gomez Didn’t Want to Be A Distraction
In an interview with the New York Times, Gomez spoke about the importance of a story like 13 Reasons Why. She knew that by starring in an adaptation she would be a distraction and the conversation would be about her and not the subject matter. She was happy to take a behind the scenes role in the project and has been very involved in shaping the series.
This is Katherine Langford’s First Role
You would never know it watching her riveting performance, but Hannah Baker was Langford’s first major role. The Australian actress was very excited to play an American high school student and experience all the typical experiences of an American teen like Halloween and school dances.
The Aussie Actress Auditioned Via Skype
Katherine Langford won the part of Hannah Baker by sending in an audition tape after a worldwide casting call. She then Skyped with director Tom McCarthy where he and the rest of the show’s creators decided she was perfect for the role. But once Langford was selected, the actress only had 10 days to apply for a visa! Luckily she was able to make it work.
The Actress Who Plays Skye is Hollywood Royalty
The cool and sarcastic Skye is one of the few people not on Hannah’s tapes. She is played by Sosie Bacon — the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. The young actress is now making a name for herself starring in several shows and serving as Miss Golden Globe in 2014.
The Show Has Connections to Broadway
13 Reasons Why was created by showrunner and writer Brian Yorkey. Before bringing Hannah’s story to life for Netflix, Yorkey wrote the Broadway musical Next to Normal which also deals with issues of mental health. Yorkey won the Tony for Best Original Score for his work.
Dylan Minnette Influenced the Show’s Music
Yorkey wasn’t the only one with music interests on set. Star Dylan Minnette spoke with Yorkey about which songs should be used on the show’s soundtrack. In an interview with Popsugar, Minnette said, “I love that he was so open and it was very much a collaboration. There are so many artists on the soundtrack that I’m so proud of.” Even the posters seen around Clay’s bedroom are some of Minnette’s favorite bands: Arcade Fire, The Shins, and Bon Iver.
There Are Some Big Difference Between the Book and Show
There are several major difference between the book and show versions of 13 Reasons Why. In the book, the parents of the high schoolers are hardly a factor at all, while in the show they are shown frequently, especially Hannah and Clay’s parents. Because there are no parents seen in the book this means there is no lawsuit, something that is going to feature heavily in Season 2 of the show. Saddest of all, in the book Hannah and Clay are co-workers but aren’t very close until the night of Jessica‘s party.
Hannah Almost Survived
Another big book and show difference is how Hannah kills herself. In the show, Hannah slits her wrists while in the book she swallows pills. Asher considered having Hannah’s mom find her and rush her to the hospital — saving her life by pumping her stomach. Ultimately Asher decided that he wanted the message of the book to be stronger and had Hannah die.
They Brought Therapy Dogs to Set
13 Reasons Why covers some very heavy topics including suicide, bullying, sexual assault, stalking, and harassment. It’s hard to watch as a fan, but even harder to film. Minnette said they had therapy dogs come to set during one particularly difficult scene to help the actors get through the emotional filming.
The Show Has A Surprising Marvel Actor
Guidance counselor Mr. Porter (Derek Luke) lets Hannah down when she needs him the most. However, the actor has played a much more heroic role in the MCU. Luke portrayed Gabe Jones, one of the Howling Commandos. The elite unit fought alongside Captain America (Chris Evans) in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Ross Butler Left Riverdale to Stay on the Show
Ross Bulter plays football player Zach Dempsy on 13 Reasons Why. He also played jock Reggie Mantle on season 1 of the CW’s Riverdale. However, Bulter had to drop out of his role on the CW show due to the scheduling conflict of filming two shows in two different countries (Riverdale shoots in Canada).
The Stars Got Matching Tattoos
Selena Gomez and actors Tommy Dorfman (Ryan) and Alisha Boe (Jessica) all got matching semicolon tattoos together. Brandon Flynn (Justin) also got the same tattoo, but on his own. The semicolon has become a symbol of suicide prevention after the creation of Project Semicolon which states, “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life”.
Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why is currently available to stream on Netflix. Season 2 premieres on May 18th.