When the writers turned this nearly 300-page book into a series, they expanded the storyline, bringing in some new characters not seen in the book. The new characters help paint a better picture, and allow the viewer to easily 'unpack the story' said Hannah Payne, who plays one of the new characters 'Stephanie'.
The show touches on many sensitive issues, including depression, suicide, and sexual assault, so there was a need to make sure the stars were comfortable on set. "I wasn't around, but they had therapy dogs on set. There was a puppy per hour. They really tried to help out." Dylan Minette recalled in an interview.
Most people don't know that Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah Baker, is actually Australian (with a heavy accent and everything!). Australian actress and former swimmer Katherine Langford was thrilled to score the breakout role of Hannah Baker. The Perth-native answered the worldwide casting call with a mailed in tape of her audition, which was followed by a Skype call with the director, who later confirmed she would get the role.
Hannah Payne (Stephanie) and Dylan Minnette (Clay Jensen) both worked on a pilot of an NBC show called Save Me. "We worked together when we had just gotten our drivers' licenses," Hannah recalled. "Four years later, I saw his name on the 13 Reasons Why call sheet, and it was like, oh my goodness, what are the odds? It was great to have a reunion when I signed on."
Kate Walsh (who you may recognize from Grey's Anatomy) did a lot of work to make her performance as honorable as she could. She spoke to two parents that had a child that died by suicide and spoke to a psychiatrist, who deals with families that lost someone to suicide.
Gomez and her mother Mandy Teefey discovered the book in 2008. After negotiating the rights to the book with author Jay Asher, the two are now executive producers on the series.
The book is titled: Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. Not only is this book a bestseller, it has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 8 straight years!!!
The adaptation of this book into a series was done by Brian Yorkey, who has won a Pulitzer, and a Tony award for Next To Nothing.
When asked about why she stayed out of the spotlight, Gomez said "The older I got---once I left my series, once I started to go for roles that weren't that age range --- it organically began to become a project that I knew I would be behind the scenes with." It's hard to know when to step away from the spotlight, but we can't help but wonder how the show would have turned out with her as the star.
Katherine Langford auditioned for both the roles of Hannah and Jessica before she landed the lead role.
Katherine Langford purchased a piano while staying in San Rafael, CA during filming. She would play it to help comfort herself between takes when feelings would become overly intense.
The shooting began at Northern California's Analy High School during the summer, but when school started they were forced to find somewhere else to go. Instead, the crew built their own replica of the high school to use, including hallways and classrooms. The replica school was so good, once you were inside it was "uncanny".
Gomez released a cover for 'Only You' from the soundtrack, inspired by Clay and Hannah's story. The song is now out on Spotify and iTunes.
The episode five dance scene turned out to be surprisingly complex. The crews wanted to film the scene from so many different angles, and cover many different plot points, it ended up taking more than a week to capture everything.
It can be really hard to coordinate the cast and film crew with the right time of day (especially when filming night scenes), so the crew had to get slightly creative. To help this, they would shoot night scenes from 4:00am - 6:00am on summer mornings to make it look like it was 7:00pm on a fall night.
It has to do with the lighting. When Hannah Baker is alive, the show is shot in "warm tones," but after she dies, "there's more blues, grays, and cooler colors." This technique is carried on throughout, and permeates every. single. scene.
Christian Navarro had to learn to drive and get his license before filming started to be able to drive the red Ford Mustang seen in the series.
The reason Clay had the scar on his head was so you could know whether we were seeing the past or the present.
Tony's cross tattoo on his wrist contains a semicolon which is the symbol for depression and suicide awareness.
After wrapping production, Selena Gomez, Alisha Boe, and Tommy Dorfman all got matching tattoos on their forearms of a subtle black semicolon, which represents and symbolizes mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
On the Thirteen Reasons Why book website, you can actually listen to the entire series of recorded tapes as written by Asher. They are obviously quite spooky and contain many spoilers... if you haven't finished the series yet, maybe wait on checking those out.
Neither Katherine Langford (Hannah) or Dylan Minette (Clay Jensen) had read the book before being cast to star in the series. Langford read it in between being cast and filming, but Minette didn't want to confuse the character in the book with the character in the show, so he didn't read it.
Mental health professionals have complained that the message the show sends about suicide is "dangerous." Kristen Douglas, a spokesperson for Australian youth mental-health organization Headspace, commented that while "13 Reasons Why" "is raising a really important issue, it's doing it in a really harmful way."
In episode 8, "Tape 4, Side B", near the end when Clay is looking for his old copy of the school zine Lost & Found, you can see a book on his bookshelf titled 'Broken Symmetry'. Broken Symmetry is a physics term which describes a phenomenon in which small fluctuations to a system ultimately decide its fate. This also describes Hannah's story and how everyone's actions, or inactions, lead to her decision to commit suicide.
Selena Gomez announced on Instagram that the series will be returning for a second season. "Their story isn't over, Season 2 of #13ReasonsWhy is coming." THIS IS NOT A DRILL.