Gibson pulled triple duty as producer, director and star of the 1995 retelling of the story of Scottish knight and independence warrior, William Wallace – who in the movie bravely wages war on the English utilising tactics such as face paint, mooning the enemy (seriously) and shouting “Freedom!” in an Aussie accent. Despite intense criticism for its numerous historical inaccuracies (the war face paint and mooning, are just the tip of the iceberg), the film remains an entertaining romp and was a box office smash on release, also sweeping the 1996 Academy Awards by winning five of the ten nominations it received, including Best Picture and Best Director for Gibson. In 2019 a spin-off sequel, Robert the Bruce, was released that no one watched.
But did you know…
1) No horses were harmed in the film. For the intense battle scenes where horses (and their riders) die dramatic deaths, life size models were used. They moved on tracks and were attached to gas cylinders that, when activated would catapult the stuntman off – achieving the look of the horse collapsing. The scenes were so realistic that Gibson was briefly investigated by the ISPCA. He recalls, “We had to show them some B-roll to convince them that I didn’t hurt animals.”
2) Gibson originally was initially reluctant to star in the film, and at one point considered Brad Pitt for the lead.
3) During budget negotiations with Paramount (who co-financed the film) Gibson grew so frustrated at the studio’s reduction in the initial agreed budget that, according to agent Jeff Berg, “he grabbed a large glass ashtray and threw it through the wall!”
4) In a 2016 interview Gibson confirmed that there exists a lot of unused footage that didn’t make the final cut, “There’s literally an hour someplace. There’s an hour of stuff.” He seems open to a director’s cut release restoring the footage, stating “if somebody – Fox or Paramount – want to finance that, go ahead. They want to dig up the footage, I’ll slap it back together.”
This clip takes us behind the scenes of the climactic battle sequence.