20 Interesting Facts You Probably Don’t Know About “Saving Private Ryan”
If you haven’t seen this yet, you should because it’s not your average World War 2 movie. It’s a classic masterpiece, to say the least. And well, Tom Hanks also gave one of the most memorable acting performances in his entire career which says a lot about this film.
1. It was the highest grossing movie in the US when it was released in 1998.
The gross sales by December of 1998 was $216,119,491 which put it just ahead of the science fiction disaster film, Armageddon. On June 15, 2012; the number rose to $481,840,909 worldwide.
2. The Omaha beach landing scene cost more than 10% of the total budget.
Saving Private Ryan’s estimated budget was $70M. That particular scene alone cost $12M for the necessary realistic scope. It also featured about 1500 extras including Irish Reserve Defense Forces members.
3. The opening battle scene used forty barrels of fake blood.
It was intense and graphic. The fake blood was used to make the ‘bloody waters’ more realistic during the Normandy Invasion landing.
4. It referenced the German Osttruppen Battalions.
Two ‘German’ soldiers were caught and they were saying “Please don’t shoot me. I am not German. I am Czech. I did not kill anyone.” Part of the German Ost units, they were coerced into serving after being ‘recruited’ at an POW camp.
5. The D-Day scenes were shot in Ireland.
More specifically, the ‘Omaha Beach’ was actually in Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand, Ballinesker. This is because the actual Normandy beaches had strict filming restrictions.
6. There are some inaccuracies.
It was generally accurate but with one minor inaccuracy. In the real Omaha landing, all the craft staff were British but in the film, the driver was an American.
7. Matt Damon was intentionally excluded from the training camp.
While the rest of the cast were training at a boot camp, Steven Spielberg wanted them to feel some sort of resentment towards Damon’s character – thus, the exclusion.
8. The Department of Veterans Affairs set up a nationwide toll-free hotline to accommodate any vets or survivors shaken by the movie.
In less than two weeks since its release, the office already received more than 100 calls. Some even stopped by the office and received counseling.
9. Drills were attached to the side of the camera to create a ‘shaking’ effect during explosions.
Spielberg revealed that he thought he created something new and innovative but was later informed by a crew that there are already shaker lens which served the same purpose.
10. Tom Sizemore, who played the role of Technical Sergeant Mike Horvath, was almost fired during the filming.
He was heavily addicted to heroin at the time that Spielberg gave him an ultimatum: he would get tested for drugs everyday and if he failed it, another actor would take his place even if they had to re-shoot the scenes.
11. Both Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson were considered for the role of Captain John H. Miller.
Steven Spielberg’s choice of letting Tom Hanks bag the lead role paid off nicely though after he received numerous nominations and bagged several awards.
12. The Censor Board of India blocked the film from being showed in cinemas.
Due to the graphic and violent nature of the movie, the Board wanted Spielberg to cut some scenes. Spielberg refused and just didn’t release the film in India. The Home Minister was highly impressed after watching it and asked the uncut version to be released.
13. To make it more realistic, those are real gunfire sounds you hear in the movie.
It was recorded using live ammunition fired at a firing range in Atlanta, Georgia which was owned by a weapons manufacturer.
14. The cast had to endure a 10-day boot camp.
The exhausting training was led by Marine veteran and the film’s military adviser Dale Dye along with California-based company – Warriors, Inc.
15. Harrison Young, who played Private First Class James Francis Ryan on present day, was 14 years old during the actual Normandy Landing.
Born on March 13, 1930, he was cast because of his uncanny resemblance to Matt Damon. He was 68 at the time of filming.
16. In the landing scene, two of the craft were actually used during World War 2.
There are a total of 12 actual World War 2 crafts used in the movie – 10 LCVP or Higgins Boat and 2 LCMs.
17. Steven Spielberg chose Matt Damon because he wanted an unknown actor to play the part of Paratrooper Private First Class James Francis Ryan.
Robin Williams introduced Matt Damon to Spielberg during their filming of Good Will Hunting. Spielberg first saw Damon in Courage Under Fire but thought he was too skinny for the part.
18. This was the first movie that Steven Spielberg directed Tom Hanks.
It was the first of other future collaborations such as Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Shooting War, A Timeless Call and more recently, Bridge of Spies.
19. Tom Hanks was inducted as an honorary member into the U.S. Army’s Ranger Hall of Fame.
In part, this was for his accurate portrayal as US Army Company Commander Captain John H. Miller. He was also cited for his role as the national spokesman for the World War II Memorial Campaign and for being the honorary chairman of the D-Day Museum Capital Campaign.
20. Billy Bob Thornton turned down the role of Technical Sergeant Mike Horvath.
It was due to his phobia of water which would have been a problem while filming the Omaha Beach scenes.