AFI Movie Club: BEING THERE – American Film Institute
Being There Film Still



BEING THERE is on AFI’s list of 100 Years…100 Laughs as one of the funniest films to grace the silver screen. Star Shirley MacLaine was honored with the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2012, and the film’s cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel, was a member of the first class at the AFI Conservatory.  

Watch Jay Roach announce the film:


Movie Trivia about BEING THERE:

-DID YOU KNOW that the filmmakers spent the majority of the shooting schedule for BEING THERE at The Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina? In the process, they brought over one million dollars to the local economy! 

-DID YOU KNOW author Jerzy Kosiński received a mysterious cable from his own character – signed “C. Gardiner” – ostensibly petitioning for the movie role? It turned out to be from Peter Sellers himself, written as Gardiner and promising his availability in “my garden or outside it.”  

-DID YOU KNOW author Jerzy Kosiński sold the screen rights to the novel with one condition – that Peter Sellers would be involved? 

-DID YOU KNOW that Laurence Olivier turned down the role of Ben Rand? This opened the door for Melvyn Douglas to take the role and deliver his second Academy Award®-winning performance! 

-DID YOU KNOW Shirley MacLaine says that Peter Sellers never broke character during filming? 

-DID YOU KNOW Peter Sellers was unhappy with outtakes of a scene being used during the end credits of the film? Prints of the film were changed to a plain version for a screening at the Cannes Film Festival and overseas distribution. 

-DID YOU KNOW Sellers has said that Chance’s voice was a crucial aspect in finding the character? He described the accent as “very clear enunciation, slightly American, with perhaps a little Stan Laurel mixed in.” 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions 

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How would life be if you viewed it in the same way as Chance does? 

-How does BEING THERE compare to today’s political climate? 

-Have you had misconceptions of a person due to their appearance? 

-What does Chance being able to walk on water at the end mean to you? 

-What is meant by the last words of the movie, “Life is a state of mind”? 

-How would you rate BEING THERE? 


Watch this exclusive AFI Archive clip of Hal Ashby on BEING THERE:


New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?
In this time when we are reminded “There’s no place like home,” AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.


How to Watch BEING THERE: View options


Comments (2)


What does Chance being able to walk on water at the end mean?


Appreciate the recommendation. Let me try it out.

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