25 Brilliant Life Hacks You Need to Try

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These life hacks will help you clean, cook, organize, and just live more efficiently.

1. USE A BOWL AS A MAKESHIFT IPHONE SPEAKER.

Woman with a hand to her ear to listen.
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Pump up the volume at any impromptu party by putting your smartphone in a bowl: The concave shape will amplify the music from its speaker.

2. ADD A LAZY SUSAN TO YOUR FRIDGE.

Woman pulling food out of a fridge.
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Sick of having to take five Tupperware containers out of your fridge in order to reach something behind them? Put a Lazy Susan on each shelf. Next time, all you have to do is spin to access food way in the back.

3. PROGRAM FREQUENTLY USED WORDS TO AUTO-FILL ON YOUR PHONE.

typing on smartphone
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It can be very frustrating to type on your smartphone's tiny keyboard rather than the roomy layout of a computer keyboard. Save time on words you use often by creating custom text replacement shortcuts. For instance, if you type your full name out a lot to fill out forms, set up your initials to autocorrect to your name. Try it for usernames, email addresses, addresses, or simple phrases like "Leaving now" or "Be there soon."

4. TAKE SCRATCHES OUT OF YOUR CDS AND DVDS USING A BANANA.

Close-up of CD with scratches.
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To de-scratch a CD, peel a banana and rub the fruit on the disc in a circular motion. Use the underside of the peel to rub the banana in deeper before wiping away the residue with a lint-free cloth. Lastly, give the disc a spritz of Windex and remove smudges with a new cloth.

5. COOL A WARM SODA IN THREE MINUTES.

Soda cans on ice.
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Say you went to the fridge for a LaCroix, only to discover that no one restocked the shelf. The cans in the pantry aren't cold, and putting one in the fridge now will take forever to cool. To have an ice cold can in just a few minutes, put your drink in a large pot and cover it with ice. Fill the pot with water, add a couple cups of salt, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Your canned beverage will magically be cold. (Alternative: Unless you need the portability of the aluminum can, keep it simple with a cup of ice.)

6. USE A HAIR DRYER TO GET RID OF WATER RINGS.

Rings of water on wooden table.
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So, you forgot to use a coaster once (or many times) and now your nice coffee table is covered in white water rings from the bottom of your glass. Luckily, you can banish them them with a hair dryer. Blast the stains with a low heat setting until they start to disappear. When they're gone, rub a little bit of olive oil on the spot to recondition the wood.

7. USE A MESH BAG TO HOLD SMALL ITEMS IN THE DISHWASHER.

White mesh laundry bag
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When you need to put small things in the dishwasher, like corn-on-the-cob holders, put them in a mesh laundry bag (the kind you use for delicates). That way, nothing will fall through the grates. Try it for tiny Tupperware, measuring spoons, and the caps to reusable bottles.

8. BOIL SALT WATER TO GET RID OF BURN MARKS.

hand scrubbing a pan
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The good news: You cooked yourself a lavish meal. The bad news: Now there are burn marks on your pan. Instead of resigning yourself to ages of hard scrubbing, follow this tip from Martha Stewart. Fill the pot or pan with cold water and two to three tablespoons of salt and let it sit overnight. The next day, bring the water to a boil, pour it out, and do a final wash with soap.

9. EXERCISE BETWEEN 5 P.M. AND 6 P.M.

excercise class
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During this period, your physical performance is at its peak, your risk of injury is at its lowest, and your muscle strength, lungs, and hand-eye coordination are all at their best and most efficient, which puts you in peak workout mode. Plus, if you work out at roughly the same time every day, you'll create a ritual that'll be harder to break when you're feeling less motivated.

10. COLOR CODE YOUR KEYS.

keys with colorful plastic caps on table
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If you have trouble remembering which key is which, color code them to solve the problem once and for all. You don't need any fancy supplies: Just use nail polish. Simply dab a dot of color on the head of the key. Avoid painting any part of the key that makes contact with the lock; you don't want nail polish rubbing off inside of your locks. If you have trouble telling keys apart in the dark, try a glow-in-the-dark paint.

11. DE-SCRATCH FURNITURE WITH A WALNUT.

bowl of walnuts on wood table
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Erase dings and scrapes in wood furniture by rubbing a walnut over the problem area: The oil from the nut will make those scrapes disappear.

12. CUT CLEAN SLICES OF CAKE WITH DENTAL FLOSS.

Slices of a rainbow layer cake.
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To avoid smeared frosting and clumps of cake breaking off, use a long string of unflavored dental floss to cut through a cake. This also works with soft cheeses!

13. HULL STRAWBERRIES WITH A STRAW.

strawberries
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You don't need a strawberry huller: Take the stems off strawberries cleanly by driving a straw right through from bottom to top.

14. HANG WRINKLED CLOTHES IN THE BATHROOM WHILE YOU SHOWER.

Wrinkled shirt hanging up.
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In a pinch, like when you're traveling, you can spruce up wrinkled clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower. When the room gets steamy, the heat and moisture will help un-wrinkle your duds for you, but you will want to smooth the clothes out by hand afterward.

15. BURN CRAYONS IF YOU'RE OUT OF CANDLES.

Lots of crayons.
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If the power goes out and you can't find your emergency candles, grab a box of crayons. Carefully set one upright in a small glass, and use a lighter the same way you would on a regular candle. The crayon should burn for up to 30 minutes.

16. STORE SHEET SETS INSIDE THE PILLOWCASES.

white sheets on clothesline
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No more hunting in your linen closet for the right sheets: Organize each matching sheet set by folding everything and storing it inside one of the pillowcases.

17. WAX YOUR STOVETOP TO MAKE FUTURE CLEANING A BREEZE.

kitchen with stove
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After you've given your stovetop a thorough cleaning, apply a thin layer of car wax and then buff it off with a clean towel. Now, wiping off future spills and blobs of food will be painless, plus your stove will look shiny and new.

18. USE A CLOTHESPIN TO HOLD A NAIL WHILE HAMMERING.

clothespin holding nail
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Once you use a clothespin to hold a nail while hammering, you'll wonder why you ever risked hitting your fingers before.

19. CHILL WINE WITHOUT WATERING IT DOWN.

Glasses of chilled wine.
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Sometimes you need to chill your wine, and under no circumstances do you want melting ice cubes to water down your drink. For a sustainable solution, invest in some reusable plastic ice cubes. Unlike traditional cubes, plastic ones won't melt. These colorful ones from Kikkerland are filled with real water. Or, try these stainless steel wine pearls from Uncommon Goods, which are filled with food-grade freeze gel.

20. USE THE BLENDER TO CLEAN A BLENDER.

A clean blender.
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Don't risk slicing your fingers by cleaning a blender with a sponge—pour in soap and water, turn it on, and rinse it out. Voila!

21. USE THIS TRICK TO TELL IF YOUR EGGS HAVE GONE BAD.

eggs in a carton
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Determine if an egg has gone bad by placing it in a bowl of cool water. If it sinks onto its side, it's perfectly fine. If it sinks and stands on its smaller end, it's still edible, but won't be for very much longer. And if it floats, it's bad. How does this work? Fresher eggs have less air under their shells, which is why they sink to the bottom.

22. USE DRYER SHEETS AND A FAN AS A MAKESHIFT AIR FRESHENER.

Close-up of a yellow fan.
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Create a makeshift air freshener by turning on a fan and taping a dryer sheet or two on the back. They'll stick on and work efficiently to eliminate odors.

23. KEEP YOUR GARBAGE BAG IN PLACE WITH ADHESIVE HOOKS.

Trash can with a bag.
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If your garbage bag is always slipping into the bin, secure it with this hack. You'll need two sticky wall hooks and a drawstring garbage bag. Attach one hook upside down on the outside of either side of the trash can and hook the trash bag's drawstrings on.

24. USE 'AAA' BATTERIES IF YOU RUN OUT OF 'AA' ONES.

Assorted batteries on an orange background.
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Can't find any more AA batteries in the drawer? When you need to replace the batteries in the remote without trekking to the store, stick a AAA battery in there. Then, roll a small ball of aluminum foil to plug the gap on the negative end of the battery.

25. TOUCH UP WRINKLED CLOTHES WITH A HAIR STRAIGHTENER.

A flat iron against a pastel background.
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While using a clothes iron to straighten hair is an old trick (which is apparently new again?), using a hair straightener on collars and that space between buttons also works.

16 Things You Might Not Know About William Shakespeare

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Despite his many contributions to English literature, surprisingly little is known about William Shakespeare’s life. For the past four centuries, historians have had the difficult task of piecing together the Bard's biography with only a handful of old legal documents. Here's what we do know about the celebrated actor, poet, and playwright, who was born on this day in 1564.

1. Shakespeare's writing was likely influenced by his father's legal troubles.

When Shakespeare was about 5 years old, his father, John—a glovemaker—was accused of illegal money-lending and wool-dealing by Crown informers. The ordeal plunged the elder Shakespeare into legal troubles that would plague him for the next decade. "William grew to adulthood in a household where his father had fallen in social and economic rank," historian Glyn Parry told The Guardian. Parry argued that the experience likely shaped Shakespeare's attitudes toward power, class, and the monarchy—major themes in his future works.

2. Shakespeare got married because of an unexpected pregnancy.

Shakespeare was 18 when he learned that Anne Hathaway, 26, was pregnant with his first child. The couple quickly decided to marry in November 1582 and greeted daughter Susanna in May 1583. Two years later, they had twins Judith and Hamnet. Unfortunately, Shakespeare has no living direct descendants: Hamnet died at age 11, probably a victim of some disease; Judith outlived her three children; and Susanna had one daughter, Elizabeth, who was childless.

3. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did between 1585 and 1592.

After the birth of his twins, Shakespeare fell off the map for seven years. One unsubstantiated theory (and there are many) suggests that he supported his family by working as a lawyer or legal clerk. Indeed, Shakespeare's plays show an impressive grasp of legal knowledge. "No dramatist of the time … used legal phrases with Shakespeare's readiness and exactness," wrote 19th-century literary critic Richard Grant White. (High praise considering that Shakespeare once wrote, "Let's kill all the lawyers.")

4. Shakespeare was, first and foremost, an actor.

An engraving of Shakespeare by E Scriven, after Humphrey's drawing known as the 'Chandos portrait,' circa 1590.
An engraving of Shakespeare by E Scriven, after Humphrey's drawing known as the 'Chandos portrait,' circa 1590.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Shakespeare became an actor at a time when the job was considered downright unsavory. "[A]ctors were already marked as undesirables by England's vagrancy laws, which mandated that traveling troupes had to find aristocratic patronage," John Paul Rollert wrote in The Atlantic. "Rogue players ran the risk of being flogged, branded, and finally hanged." Little is known of Shakespeare's acting chops, but it's believed Shakespeare favored playing "kingly parts," including the ghost in his own Hamlet.

5. Shakespeare may have participated in organized crime.

In the 1590s, many of London's theaters operated as shady fronts for organized crime. (The Lord Mayor of London decried the theater—and specifically plans for the new Swan Theatre, where Shakespeare may have briefly worked—as a meeting spot for "thieves, horse-stealers, whoremongers, cozeners, conny-catching persons, practisers of treason, and such other like.") In 1596, Swan Theater owner Francis Langley accused William Gardiner and his stepson William Wayte of making death threats. Soon after, Wayte retaliated with the same accusations against Langley and—for some reason—William Shakespeare. This has led historian Mike Dash to suggest that Shakespeare may have been involved in some unspoken criminal activity.

6. Shakespeare was a matchmaker (and a marital peace-maker).

It may be no surprise that the author of Romeo and Juliet had a penchant for bringing lovers together: He once helped arrange the marriage of his landlord's daughter. The only reason we know this, however, is because the marriage had a rocky start. When a dispute over the dowry boiled over, Shakespeare had to go to court to act as a character witness for his landlord, whom he called a "very honest fellow." The transcript is the only record of Shakespeare speaking.

7. The first printed reference to Shakespeare as a playwright was an insult.

The first mention of William Shakespeare as a playwright appeared in 1592, when the dramatist Robert Greene (or possibly Henry Chettle) called him an "upstart Crow [who] … supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you." (In other words: A jack-of-all-trades, and a master of none.) Future reviewers would offer kinder words; in 1598, the critic Francis Meres called him "mellifluous and honey-tongued."

8. Shakespeare likely helped steal a theater, piece by piece.

In 1596, the Theatre in Shoreditch—where Shakespeare cut his teeth as an actor—went dark. The lease for the property on which it was built had expired, and Shakespeare's acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, were forced to take their show elsewhere. Two years later, the former owners hatched a crazy plan to take their playhouse back. One winter night in 1598, a group armed themselves with swords and axes, snuck into the theater, and began dismantling the playhouse piece by piece—although it would take more than one night to demolish it. While there's no evidence that Shakespeare joined the crew, he certainly knew about the raid. Eventually, parts of the playhouse would go into the construction of a new theater just south of the River Thames. Its new name? The Globe.

9. Only one handwritten script of Shakespeare's exists.

Five examples of the autograph of English playwright William Shakespeare, circa 1610.
Five examples of the autograph of William Shakespeare, circa 1610.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Anyone interested in studying the Bard's cramped handwriting has only one reliable place to look—the original draft of the Book of Sir Thomas More, a politically-charged play that targeted, in-part, xenophobia in England. Written mainly by dramatist Anthony Munday, the play was completed with the help of four fellow playwrights. One of them, presumed to be Shakespeare, helped write a stirring monologue in which the lead character asks an anti-immigrant mob to imagine themselves as refugees.

Say now the king …
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour?

The play, by the way, would not be performed. Censors believed it could start a riot.

10. Shakespeare might have experimented with drugs.

Shakespeare might have had some, well, experience with drugs. According to analyses by South African scientists, a handful of 400-year-old clay tobacco pipes excavated from the playwright's Stratford garden contained potential evidence of cannabis (although the study authors noted that "Unequivocal evidence for Cannabis has not been obtained"). Other pipes nearby contained remnants of cocaine and hallucinogens. (There's no evidence that any of these pipes belonged to Shakespeare, but it does indicate that "narcotics were accessible" at the time, the Telegraph reports.)

11. Shakespeare may have been a tax cheat.

In the late 16th century, English residents had to pay a tax on personal wealth called a lay subsidy. In 1597, Shakespeare was supposed to pay a tax of five shillings. The following year, he was supposed to pay a larger tax of 13 shillings and 4 pence. Documents show that the Bard never paid the piper. (His reasons are a matter of speculation, but it could have been a clerical error because he'd already moved away from the parish.)

12. Shakespeare was a grain hoarder.

According to the UK Parliament, between 1604 and 1914 over 5200 enclosure bills were enacted, which restricted the use of vital, publicly-used farmland. Ensuing riots in 1607, called the Midland Revolts, coincided with a period of devastating food shortages. It appears that Shakespeare responded to the situation by hoarding grain. According to the Los Angeles Times, he "purchased and stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbors and local tradesmen."

13. The Globe Theatre burned down during a performance of one of Shakespeare's plays.

An 1647 engraving by Hollar of Shakespeare's Globe theatre.
An 1647 engraving by Hollar of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Rischgitz, Getty Images

On June 29, 1613, a prop cannon caused a fire at the Globe Theatre during a performance of Henry VIII. Sparks landed on the thatched roof and flames quickly spread. "It kindled inwardly, and ran round like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole house to the very ground," a witness Sir Henry Wotton claimed. According to The Telegraph, "the only reported injury was a man whose flaming breeches were eventually put out using a handy bottle of ale."

14. Shakespeare laid a curse upon his own grave.

When Shakespeare died in 1616, grave-robbing was extremely common. To ensure he'd rest through eternity peacefully, the Bard is believed to have penned this curse, which appears on his gravestone.

Good frend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To digg the dust Encloased heare:
Bleste be [the] man [that] spares these stones,
And curst be he [that] moves my bones.

Unfortunately, somebody apparently ignored the dead man's foreboding words. In 2016, researchers scanned the grave with ground-penetrating radar and discovered that grave robbers might have stolen Shakespeare's skull.

15. Shakespeare's legacy has killed a lot of trees.

And we're not just talking about the millions of copies of books that have been printed with Shakespeare's name on them. In 1762, an anonymous magazine writer claimed that a drunken Shakespeare, after an evening out on the town, once spent the night sleeping under a crabtree in Bidford-upon-Avon. The story is probably a legend, but that never stopped souvenir-hungry Shakespeare lovers from flocking to the famed crabtree and picking it to pieces. By 1824, the tree was nothing but a stump and had to be uprooted.

16. Shakespeare's legacy lived on thanks to two fellow actors.

The cover of a 1623 collection of Shakespeare's works.
Rischgitz, Getty Images

Shortly after Shakespeare died, two of his longtime friends and colleagues—John Heminge and Henry Condell—edited Shakespeare's plays and collected them in a 1623 book titled Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. That same book, now called the First Folio, helped preserve Shakespeare's work for the coming generations and is widely considered one of the most significant books printed in English.

10 Characters Left Out of the Movie Adaptations of Popular Books

© 1939 Warner Home Video. All rights reserved.
© 1939 Warner Home Video. All rights reserved.

While many film adaptations of popular books try to remain faithful to their source material, others take creative liberties by changing the setting, altering relationships, cutting out entire storylines, and eliminating key characters. Here are 10 characters who never made the leap from book to big-screen.

1. Tattypoo // The Wizard of Oz (1939)

In L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Good Witch of the South is named Glinda and is described as an unbelievably beautiful woman. Her counterpart, the Good Witch of the North, is an older woman who later writers dubbed "Locasta" or "Tattypoo." Glinda only appears at the end of the story and tells Dorothy how to return home, while Tattypoo greets the heroine once she arrives in the Land of Oz.

However, in the classic film adaptation, Glinda is the sole Good Witch, acting as a composite character of the two from the book. "Tattypoo" is never referred to at all throughout the film.

2. Madge Undersee // The Hunger Games (2012)

Although she was introduced early in The Hunger Games book series, Madge Undersee was not featured in any of the films. On the page, she was Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and the daughter of the mayor of District 12. Madge also gives Katniss her Mockingjay pin at the beginning of the trilogy.

In the film version, Katniss picks up the iconic pin and gives it to her sister, Primrose, instead. Prim then gives it back to Katniss once she volunteers as Tribute to take her sister’s place.

3. Tom Bombadil // The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Although he’s a beloved character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings book series, Peter Jackson didn’t include Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring movie, despite his memorable appearance in the book. Believing Bombadil would simply slow down the action and that the scene didn’t move the main Sauron/Ring story forward, the director cut the character during the film's development. Poor ol' Tom was also left out of Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings for the same reason.

4. Dr. Martin Guitierrez // Jurassic Park (1993)

Dr. Martin Guitierrez is the only character who appears in both Jurassic Park and The Lost World novels without appearing in any of the film adaptations. In the books, he’s an American biologist who lives in Costa Rica and identifies a small dinosaur that attacked a little girl as the lizard Basiliscus amoratus. But as he learns more about this creature, he begins to doubt his identification. Some of the opening chapters of the Jurassic Park novel were not used in the film, but were later repurposed for The Lost World: Jurassic Park sequel.

5. Captain Marvel // Captain America: Civil War (2016)


Marvel

Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers, then in the role of Ms. Marvel) is one of the most powerful members of the Avengers team. She played an integral role in the comic event Civil War during the mid-2000s, but she doesn’t appear at all in the Marvel Cinematic Universe version. In the comic book, the future Captain Marvel was on Team Iron Man and urged the superpowered to unmask and to obey the Superhero Registration Act. Captain Marvel didn’t appear in the movie because her character wasn’t introduced (or teased) in the Marvel film franchise yet. Now, of course, she's got her own standalone film and will be a key part of Avengers: Endgame and the next phase of the MCU (with Oscar-winner Brie Larson in the role).

In addition, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were also a big part of Civil War, but didn’t appear in the film because they each had their own Netflix series at the time.

6. Carol Masters // Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was actually based on a novel called Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, which followed a cartoon character who hired a hard-boiled private eye to investigate why his company isn’t going to feature him in a new comic strip. Disney acquired the film rights and changed almost everything about the story, such as lightening up the novel’s dark noir tone.

The Mouse House also ditched a number of characters from the original novel, including Carol Masters, Roger’s comic strip photographer. In the book, toons appear in print instead of animation, so photographers are teamed with cartoon characters to take pictures of them posing in comic strips.

7. Alexandra Finch // To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Alexandra Finch is Atticus's sister—and Scout and Jem’s aunt—in To Kill a Mockingbird. She was a stern woman who wanted Scout to act more like a lady instead of a tomboy. Her character was omitted from the movie version, as was Uncle Jack, who played a minor role in the book.

8. The Countess Rugen // The Princess Bride (1987)

Described as fashionable and beautiful, the Countess Rugen was left out of the film adaptation of The Princess Bride. She was the wife of Count Rugen, played by Christopher Guest in the movie, and appears at the beginning of the novel at Buttercup’s farm. The Countess was very attracted to Westley, which led to Buttercup realizing she was in love with him. A majority of the farm storyline was cut out of the film to streamline the running time and story flow.

9. Peeves // Harry Potter film series (2001-2011)

Although Peeves, a pesky prankster poltergeist, is a fan favorite from the Harry Potter book series, he never made an appearance in any of the film versions. “Peeves was always an issue,” Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves told io9. “Chris Columbus was determined to put him in the first movie. I think there were even some technological problems with him initially, and [not] being satisfied with how he looked. He was always a bit tangential.”

In the year 2000, director Chris Columbus actually cast Rik Mayall to play the role in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He was on set for three weeks before he was eventually cut out of the movie due to problems on set and with the special effects.

“I played the part of Peeves in Harry Potter,” Rik Mayall explained. “I got sent off the set because every time I tried to do a bit of acting, all the lads who were playing the school kids kept getting the giggles, they kept corpsing [slang for breaking character and laughing], so they threw me off.”

10. Mr. and Mrs. Hurst // Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Mr. and Mrs. Hurst are Bingley's brother-in-law and sister, but the unaffectionate couple in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice doesn’t make an appearance in the 2005 film adaptation from director Joe Wright. Mrs. Hurst is described as arrogant and snobbish, while Mr. Hurst is mostly known as an indolent man who is more interested in food and playing cards than his wife. While the Hursts are not in the 2005 film, they do appear in the six-episode BBC TV series from 1995, played by Rupert Vansittart and Lucy Robinson.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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