In September 1995, Braveheart premiered in British cinemas, bringing with it a wave of Scottish nationalist pride, a worldwide box office gross of over $200million and five Academy Awards.
To celebrate the release of the 15th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray, TotalFilm.com sat down with director/star Mel Gibson, and cinematographer John Toll to discuss the making of the film, its successes, failures and legacy.
The story behind Braveheart begins with a visit to Scotland.
In 1983, screenwriter Randall Wallace made a pilgrimage to Edinburgh to learn about his heritage, and happened upon a statue of William Wallace outside Edinburgh Castle.
Intrigued by this legendary figure who shared his name, Wallace determined to research the man dubbed ‘Scotland’s greatest hero’ as much as possible.
“It appealed to me when I read it,” says Gibson, “Randall Wallace is very passionate about the things he writes and stories he tells.”
“It just reflected his feelings on the subject, about honor and heroism and sacrifice and freedom, which I think are things we’d all like to display.”
Inspired by the big screen epics he had loved as a child, such as Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus and William Wyler's The Big Country, Gibson set out to make the film, with a view to casting Jason Patric as the 28 year-old Scot.
Unfortunately for Patric, the only way Gibson could secure financing was if he agreed with Paramount studios that he would star in the film as well.
“Yeah I was trying to get Jason to do it, but the studio wouldn't have it - they were saying ‘no, you get in it’”
“’They said you get in it, and it’s a worthwhile prospect for us, and you can direct it.’
“So I ended up jumping in. I did think I was a little old, because he was like twenty-eight when he died, and I was already ten years older than that when we started shooting.
“It doesn't matter really, if you can sell it… At least my knees weren’t wrinkly.”
With Paramount pictures onboard and Gibson producing through his Icon Productions banner as well as acting and directing, the project was gathering momentum.
In the summer of 1994, Gibson, Toll and crew gathered in the most obvious location to film the story of a legendary Scot; Ireland.