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DID YOU READ

15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Braveheart

BRAVEHEART, Mel Gibson, 1995. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

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You remember Mel Gibson’s award-winning performance as William Wallace, but these nuggets about the creation of Braveheart may enrich your repeat viewings.

1. Screenwriter Randall Wallace first had the idea on a vacation to Edinburgh.

He saw statues of William Wallace (no relation) and Robert the Bruce adorning Edinburgh Castle and asked a tour guide who they were. The guide proceeded to tell the screenwriter about their story. Wallace was immediately inspired to write a screenplay about the famed warriors.


2. But Wallace didn’t immediately start his research.

Wallace opted to do specific historical research after he completed his screenplay because he wanted to capture the drama of the story first and input historical details later. Wallace brushes off claims of the movie’s historical inaccuracy by saying that the script is only his dramatic interpretation.


3. Mel Gibson didn’t want a title sequence.

The director opted against including a main title sequence because he felt the film should launch right into the story. Nevertheless, famous designer Kyle Cooper created a brief title sequence for the film. Cooper would go on to do the noted title sequences for films like Se7en, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and American Horror Story.


4. There’s a little Spartacus in Gibson’s direction.

Gibson’s main inspirations for Braveheart were sword-and-sandal epics he watched growing up, like El Cid and Spartacus.


5. Gibson worked in order.

The first shot in the movie was the first shot that he filmed.


6. James Robinson, who plays Young William, hadn’t acted in a movie before Braveheart.

At one of the casting calls in Glasgow, Gibson asked another young actor there if he knew anybody who would be good for the movie, and the young actor referred Gibson to Robinson.


7. Mel Gibson’s brother makes an appearance.

The director’s brother, Donal Gibson, plays the leader of one of the clans that joins up with William Wallace at the midpoint of the movie.


8. Mad Max influenced the battle scenes.

Gibson admits that he borrowed the cinematic techniques for most of the violent shots in the movie—like shooting at different speeds or using jump cuts to emphasize the violence—from his Mad Max director George Miller. He also admittedly borrowed ideas and techniques for more atmospheric shots from director Peter Weir (who directed Gibson in Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously).

9. Gibson had no choice but to star as William Wallace.

Gibson was relatively new to directing and was known more as an actor when he took on Braveheart – at that point his only directing credit was the small drama The Man Without a Face. Because of his onscreen fame, Paramount Pictures would allegedly only agree to let Gibson direct the movie if he starred in it.


10. Gibson didn’t have actors read lines when they auditioned.

Instead, he sat down and talked to each actor over tea.


11. Gibson brought in actual members of the Wallace clan as extras.

They’re standing around Wallace during the opening shots of battles.


12. There’s a subtle Shakespeare reference in the film’s most famous speech.

William Wallace’s famous “Freedom” speech was heavily inspired by King Henry’s “St. Crispin’s Day Speech” from the Shakespeare play Henry V.


13. The distinctive face paint—called “woad”— is actually an anachronism.

It was never worn in battle at the time the movie takes place.


14. Gibson’s woad went through some revisions.

Gibson originally wanted to have St. Andrew’s Cross (a symbol of Scotland that appears on its contemporary flag) as the woad design on his face, but the film’s makeup artist, Lois Burwell, suggested the now iconic half-face-covering design. Good call by Burwell – she won the Oscar for Best Makeup for Braveheart.


15. Some of the warriors were real-life soldiers.

The production used reserve soldiers from the Irish territorial army as extras during the battle scenes. To save money, the same group played both Scottish and English forces and simply changed costumes depending on the angles Gibson wanted to shoot.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…