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Mel Gibson: ‘Scotland wasn’t a friendly place to film Braveheart’

Mel Gibson abandoned plans to film Braveheart entirely in Scotland because the country wasn’t “people-friendly” enough.

The 1995 war epic, in which the actor portrayed Scottish national hero William Wallace, won an Academy Award for Best Picture and has often been credited with inspiring a revival of nationalism in the country.

However, the actor and director has now revealed that he decided to film the major battle scenes in Ireland as Scotland wasn’t “friendly” enough.

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Braveheart, Mel Gibson
20th Century Fox Film

“We started off in Scotland and we were thinking, ‘How are we going to do this? It’s not horse-friendly. It’s not people-friendly,” he said in an interview on Irish radio show Dermot & Dave on Today FM.

He went on to explain that Ireland’s Minister for Arts at the time, Michael D. Higgins, had “opened the gates up over here and really greased the wheels and helped us get it done”.

One of the ways the Irish government help Mel make the film was by allowing him to use Irish Army reservists as extras in battle scenes, with the same reservists playing both armies.


The 61-year-old confessed that his memories of making the film were hazy though, as the shoot was so demanding.

Mel explained, “I was getting like four hours a night sleep and working seven days a week. I don’t remember a whole lot outside of memories of painting myself blue and just turning up!”

The film also won the star the Academy Award for Best Director at the 1996 Oscars and generated a huge boost to the Scottish tourist industry, and is estimated to have earned the country millions of dollars as visitors flocked to see its historic sites.

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Mel’s appearance on the radio show was to promote his new movie, Daddy’s Home 2, which also stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

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