30 Unbelievable Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Saving Private Ryan'. Mind Blown!
'Saving Private Ryan' was the biggest movie of 1998, and completely changed how we view movies and war itself.
Below are 30 of the coolest things you could possibly know about the movie. Check it out!
1/30) Matt Damon was the only actor who didn't have to go through the grueling army training before filming. Damon was spared so that the other actors would resent him and show it in their performances.
2/30) For the opening scene on Omaha beach, they had to use over 40 barrels of fake blood to create the gruesome battle.
3/30) One of the actors in the German-dubbed version of the movie was actually a German veteran from the invasion of Normandy. He had to drop out because of the emotional realism of the movie.
4/30) Neil Patrick Harris was considered for the role of Private Ryan.
5/30) Before Tom Hanks was cast as Captain John Miller, Spielberg considered Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford for the lead role.
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6/30) Tom Sizemore was battling a drug addiction during the filming of the movie. Spielberg gave him an ultimatum where he would be blood tested every single day and if he failed it even once, he would be re-cast and his scenes would be reshot, even if they were as far as the end of the production.
7/30) When Matt Damon was cast as Private Ryan, it was because Spielberg wanted a relatively unknown actor at the time. This backfired when Good Will Hunting made Damon an overnight star shortly before this movie was released.
8/30) Movie theatres were specifically instructed to raise the volume when showing the movie, as sound effects played a crucial aspect to the experience of the movie.
9/30) Billy Bob Thornton was offered the role of Sergeant Horvath, but declined because he didn't want to film the Omaha beach scenes since he has a big phobia of water.
10/30) Gunfire sound effects heard in the film were recorded from actual gunfire with live ammunition fired from authentic period weapons, recorded at a live fire machine gun range.
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11/30) In anticipation of the hundreds of former soldiers who might be traumatized after viewing the movie, The Department of Veterans Affairs set up a special 800 number to offer support.
12/30) Edward Norton was offered the role of Private Ryan, but opted to star in American History X instead.
13/30) On top of the incredibly tough exercises, the actors' boot camp involved camping in soaking wet conditions, only being allowed to call each other by their characters' names, and having the boot camp supervisor constantly refer to them as 'turds'.
14/30) The Omaha Beach battle was filmed in sequence over a four-week period, moving the action up the beach shot by shot and day by day. Steven Spielberg claims that none of it was storyboarded in advance.
15/30) On top of being the highest grossing movie of 1998, it was last R-Rated movie to lead the annual box office charts until the release of American Sniper in 2014.
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16/30) When Tom Hanks' character, John Miller, tells the rest of the unit what he does for a living back home, Hanks' speech was actually much longer in the original script. But Hanks felt that his character wouldn't have said so much about himself, and he told Steven Spielberg so. Spielberg agreed, and the speech was shortened.
17/30) The Omaha Beach scene cost $11 million to shoot and involved up to 1,000 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Army Reserve.
Of those extras, 20-30 of them were amputees issued with prosthetic limbs to simulate soldiers having their limbs blown off.
18/30) When the camera shakes during explosions, it was because Steven Spielberg used drills attached to the side of the camera, which were turned on when shaking was required. While shooting with this effect, the crew's photographer let Spielberg know that there was a shaker lens for cameras. Spielberg said in an interview that he was bummed, and thought he had invented a great new technique at first.
19/30) Two of the landing craft used in the Omaha Beach scenes were actually in use in World War II.
20/30) For the initial battle scenes in the sea, spare ammunition carried by the actors was made from wood, as metal was too heavy.
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21/30) Military historian and author Stephen Ambrose, at a special screening of the film for him, had to ask for the screening to be halted 20 minutes in, as he couldn't handle the intensity of the opening.
After composing himself outside for a few minutes, he was able to return to the screening room and watch the film to its conclusion.
22/30) Spielberg requested that nobody be allowed entrance into the movie after it had already begun showing.
23/30) Steven Spielberg claimed that he considered the film as a gift to his aging father, a WWII veteran. He said he didn't think a World War II movie with lots of graphic violence could be a smash hit, and was surprised when it became a blockbuster.
24/30) Interestingly enough, Paul Giamatti says "The streets have been quiet for about 45 minutes" around the 45-minute mark in the movie.
25/30) Some people complained that the scene where the Rangers are throwing mortar rounds by hand at the German soldiers was unrealistic. It was then revealed that Charles Kelly, who received the Medal of Honor, actually did this during a battle in Italy in 1943.
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26/30) Spielberg received praise for the movie's authenticity. Actor James Doohan, who appeared in Star Trek, was especially kind. Doohan lost the middle finger of his right hand and was wounded in the leg during the war. Also, he participated in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, at Juno Beach, where the 3rd Canadian infantry division led the attack. He commended Spielberg for not leaving out any gory details.
27/30) In India, the film was blocked by the Censor Board of India for too much violence. They demanded cuts that Steven Spielberg declined to make and instead, he decided not to release the movie in India at all. The Home Minister of India saw the movie himself and, impressed, ordered it to be released uncut.
28/30) The two "German" soldiers who are shot trying to surrender were speaking Czech. They were saying, "Please don't shoot me, I am not German, I am Czech, I didn't kill anyone, I am Czech!". Many Czech and Polish citizens were forced into the German military when their countries were taken over.
29/30) When using the field radio on the beach, Capt. Miller keeps saying 'CATF' into the radio, meaning he is calling the Commander: Amphibious Task Force.
30/30) Matt Damon ad-libbed the story he tells, towards the end of the film, about spying on his brother in the barn with the ugly girl. The speech was rambling and not particularly funny or interesting, but the crew decided that's why it worked; it was true to an unformed kid like Ryan, fated to be at the center of this incredible operation. Steven Spielberg liked it so much he decided to leave it in the film.
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We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."
This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.