The Crazy Real-Life Stories Behind 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why is a show about the difficulties modern-day teenagers face growing up in American high schools. It deals with super intense subject matter, and a lot of kids have praised the show for its realistic treatment of everyday life. There’s no question that this show is intense, but some pretty intense things happen behind the scenes as well.

Like puppies. They all get to play with puppies. Keep reading to learn more crazy facts about the cast and crew of this hit Netflix series.

Let’s Start With The Basics

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If you’re a die-hard 13 Reasons Why fan, you definitely know this already, but this is an important fact, so if you’re not in the know, pay attention.

13 Reasons Why is based on a book by Jay Asher. The book was a bestseller in 2011.

Katherine Also Auditioned To Play Jessica

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I honestly cannot imagine anyone but Alisha Boe playing Jessica. There’s something about her fragile confidence that just suits the part so perfectly.

Katherine auditioned to play Hannah and Jessica. I wonder how different those two auditions were? I’d love to see her audition tapes.

Chris Navarro Had To Learn To Drive For The Show

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Christian Navarro couldn’t drive before he was cast on 13 Reasons Why. He had to get his license so could drive the red Ford Mustang he’s seen driving in the series.

Now I’m extra impressed that he was able to play someone who was so into cars. That’s how acting works, I guess.

Some Of The Writers Thought A Specific Plot Point Was Unrealistic

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Some of the writers thought it wasn’t realistic to have Justin let Bryce into Jessica’s bedroom.

In the ninth episode of the show, Jessica’s boyfriend, Justin, lets Bryce go into her bedroom while she’s drunk. Bryce then takes advantage of Jessica. A lot of the writers thought Justin’s actions were totally unbelievable. Sadly, his actions aren’t as rare as we’d like to believe.

The Artwork In The Cafe Has An Interesting Backstory

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In the second episode of the show,Hannah and Jess ask Alex about a new picture on the wall at the coffee shop.

He says it looks like a bleeding man. Dylan is in a band in real life, and one of his band’s songs is called “Bleeding Man.”

She Got Cast Over Skype

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Katherine Langford is from Australia, so she didn’t make the trip to California to audition for the role of Hannah. Instead, she auditioned over Skype.

Katherine described the moment she got the role: “I had never done anything before. I got a call saying they wanted me, but we only had 10 days to get an O-1 visa.”

Selena Gomez Is Super Involved In The Show

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Selena Gomez is the executive producer of 13 Reasons Why. Dylan Minnette has commented on how involved she is with the day-to-day process of filming the show:

“She stayed with us the whole day on set and talked to everyone. She took us out to dinner and saw a movie with us, and we hung out with her. I don’t think I can emphasize how generous she is and how genuinely she cares.”

Dylan Minnette Helped Pick The Show’s Soundtrack

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He said: “I had a dialogue with [the creator] from the get-go about what songs should be on the soundtrack. 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. And Clay’s room is filled with posters of my favorite bands.

There are other artists that I would love to have in there, but they aren’t artists that I feel Clay would listen to. You’ll see there are a couple Arcade Fire posters, Bon Iver, The Cure, The Shins, and some other cool things. I wanted to make sure it all felt very real, and I wanted the vibe to be appropriate.”

Kate Walsh Had A Brain Tumor

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Just before filming began on 13 Reasons Why, Kate Walsh had undergone surgery to remove a tumor in her brain. Thankfully, tests done on the tumor after it was removed showed that it was benign.

Even after all those years on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, Kate wasn’t prepared for that health scare.

In The Book, Hannah Commits Suicide A Different Way

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The scene in 13 Reasons Why in which Hannah commits suicide is pretty brutal to watch. In the book, her death scene isn’t as gruesome.

The show creators made the decision to change the scene very deliberately. They said, “We worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted to be very clear that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide.”

Hannah Was Originally Going To Survive In The Book

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Thirteen Reasons Why author, Jay Asher, thought about having Hannah survive her suicide attempt. He thought that he might have her parents find her and rush her to the hospital.

He explained, “Once I realized that the message of the story would be stronger [if she died] and that it would definitely be more of a cautionary tale. I felt that was definitely the way to go.”

Alisha Boe Almost Played Hannah

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Alisha Boe initially auditioned for the role of Hannah. She said, “When they asked me to audition for Jessica, I disconnected with it. She’s supposed to be a pretty, popular teenager, and in my head, just from being brainwashed from all these breakdowns growing up, it’s a blonde girl with blue eyes.”

She continued, “It was my first time being able to be separated from being someone’s best friend, or being the butt of the joke, or an accessory.”

Tommy Dorfman Is Non-Binary

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In June of 2018, Tommy Dorfman, who plays Ryan Shaver on 13 Reasons Why, came out as non-binary. That means that he doesn’t identify as strictly male or strictly female.

He told Teen Vogue, “Physically, biologically I am male, and I’ve never wanted to change that. Yet inside, I am considerably more female. My spirit is more female, this even my therapist could intuit. As a kid I dreamed both as a boy and a girl. In the past few years, I’ve had the language to describe and eventually accept myself as nonbinary.”

Scenes Look Different Before And After Hannah’s Death

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The creators of this show deliberately established a clear visual difference between the scenes before and after Hannah’s death. The scenes before her death feature bright colors and a warmer color palette.

The scenes after her death are darker, cooler, and more washed out. The color difference helps viewers quickly identify which time frame a scene is in.

Jay Asher Had A Different Title For The Book

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Jay Asher originally wanted to call the book, Baker’s Dozen. I actually think this title is way better than 13 Reasons Why. Hannah’s last name is Baker, and a baker’s dozen is a group or set of thirteen.

It makes so much sense. He probably made Hannah’s last name “Baker” for this reason.

Puppies Were Brought On Set For Emotional Support

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13 Reasons Why deals with some pretty intense subject matter. The show brought in puppies for the cast and crew to help them deal with the stress of such emotionally difficult scenes.

Dylan Minnette said, “I know there was one scene, I wasn’t around, but they had therapy dogs on set. There was a puppy per hour. They really tried to help out. The puppies helped.”

The Winter Formal Scene Took Over A Week To Shoot

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On the surface, the winter formal scene doesn’t look too complicated, but the creators of the show wanted to capture so many different angles and really do the story justice.

Hannah Payne, who played Stephanie on the show said, “We had such a large group of young actors and actresses, so we really felt like we were going back to prom.”

Ross Butler Is Not A Teenager

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Movies and television shows often cast actors who are way older than their characters, especially when their character is a high school student. Ross Butler was actually 26 years old during the first season of the show.

His character, Ross, Zachery Dempsey, is supposed to be 19.

Dylan Minnette Hadn’t Read The Book Before Filming

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Dylan Minnette has said that he didn’t want to confuse the character in the book with the character in the show. That’s why he didn’t read the book before filming.

As far as we know, he still hasn’t read the book. I think he did a pretty good job as Clay, so whatever he’s doing must be working.

You Can Listen To All Of Hannah’s Tapes Online

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The thirteen tapes Hannah leaves behind are clearly an integral part of the show. In the show, the audio is cut up and woven through several scenes in the first season.

If you want to listen to all the tapes as Hannah intended, you can find them all on the 13 Reasons Why website.

There Were Counselors On Set

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Portraying difficult subject matter can be taxing for actors of any age, let alone teenagers. That’s why the creators of the show had counselors on set pretty regularly.

The actors playing main characters were required to have meetings with counselors on a regular basis.

Katherine Langford Is Australian

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So, we already sort of covered this one, but Katherine has a lot to say about moving to America after growing up in Australia:

“This may just be me, but I feel like everyone’s dream is to live as an American high school student. There are so many teen films set in America that you live vicariously through them, anyway. But it was totally different. I got to experience Halloween, and prom, and cheerleaders… and the Fourth of July! It was crazy.”

Skye Is Played By Sosie Bacon

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Skye, Clay’s girlfriend after Hannah, is played by Sosie Bacon, who just so happens to be Kevin Bacon’s daughter.

It looks like acting skills run in the family. Sosie did a great job on the show, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Selena Gomez And The Cast Got Matching Tattoos

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Selena, Tommy Dorfman (Ryan) and Alisha Boe (Jessica) all got matching semi-colon tattoos. Tommy posted this photo on Instagram with the caption:

“Today was a magical day. Another day to be grateful to be alive. Alisha, Selena, and I went together to get ; tattoos. The ; symbol stands for an end of one thought and a beginning of another. Instead of a period, authors use the semicolon to continue a sentence. For us, it means a beginning of another chapter in life, in lieu of ending your life.”

Brandon Flynn Dated Sam Smith

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Brandon Flynn plays Jessica’s boyfriend, Justin Foley on 13 Reasons Why. In 2017, he confirmed to the press that he was part of the LGBT community.

That same year, he began dating British singer Sam Smith. The couple split up in June 2018. It was cute while it lasted.

Hannah And Clay Have The Same Poster In Their Bedrooms

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The show went above and beyond to show that Hannah and Clay have a deep connection. They left subtle clues in the background of scenes to build our understanding of their relationship.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that both Hannah and Clay have an Arcade Fire Reflektor poster in their rooms.

Katherine And Dylan Already Knew Each Other

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Dylan and Katherine actually worked together on some small productions before they starred on 13 Reasons Why. A lot of the cast members were actually guests on either Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice, two shows that Kate Walsh starred in.

Katherine said that seeing everyone again was like a reunion of old friends.

They Had To Build An Exact Replica Of The High School

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13 Reasons Why was shot in an actual high school during the summer while classes weren’t running. After they wrapped filming, producers realized that they needed to tweak and reshoot some scenes. Unfortunately, school had resumed and the high school was no longer available.

They had to build exact replicas of some of the rooms in the school so that they could do the reshoots.

Selena Gomez Was Originally Going To Play Hannah

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Selena Gomez executive produced 13 Reasons Why and even provided a song for the second season’s soundtrack. Originally, she was signed on to play Hannah, but ultimately she decided that she’d rather work on the project from behind the scenes.

She wanted a relatively unknown actress to play Hannah so viewers could see themselves in the character.

You Can Buy Hannah’s Nail Polish

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Hannah baker uses a very specific nail polish to write the numbers one to thirteen on the tapes that she leaves her “friends.”

If you really liked that shade of blue, you can actually buy it wherever nail polish is sold. The color is called “Endless Blue,” and it is made by Sinful Colors.