Mel Gibson reveals critical details surrounding his brush with death while filming Braveheart.
The 1995 film stars Mel Gibson as a Scottish warrior who leads a rebellion to liberate his homeland from the oppressive rule of King Edward I of England. The movie received the highest of recognitions primarily because of it’s well put together battle scenes that left viewers on the edge of their seats.
At first, Gibson was only meant to assume the role of director, but after a change of heart, he decided to adopt the lead role as well. Brad Pitt and Jason Patric were also considered for the role, but Gibson doubled down on becoming the iconic protagonist, William Wallace.
The film faced many challenges during production, the production team’s hard work paid off. As one critic from Rotten Tomatoes says, “It’s Mel Gibson’s movie all the way, and he comes through triumphantly.”
Well, Gibson has recently shed light on an incident that “nearly killed him” during the movie’s production.
It all started…with a horse.
Once again, Braveheart is known for it’s intense battle scenes. A good majority of these action-packed scenes had to be cut from the movie due to budget shortages under Icon Productions who had partnered with The Ladd Company. Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox later stepped in to cover additional expenses in exchange for distribution rights.
It was in an interview with Empire that Gibson went into more detail about the events that took place during Braveheart’s production. During one incident, Gibson describes being trampled by a horse but before his stunt double intervened. Gibson told Empire Magazine:
“There was a horse that nearly killed me. He had a good trick where he did this whole rear-up thing, but he’d also fall backwards, which is a problem if you’ve fallen off first and you’re behind him. He did that to me. My stunt double ran in and pulled me out of the way just as the horse fell.”
Most of the horses in the battle scenes were actually fake, mechanical ones. Despite this, Gibson wanted to include some real horses for “realism.” To add members of the Irish Reserve Army played as background extras for both English and Scottish soldiers.
Gibson states that handling real horses proved to be difficult on the set. The Passion of the Christ director and Signs actor described moments when his horse would behave erratically whenever he shouted his lines in each battle scene.
The Irish Prevention of Animal Cruelty organization even raised concerns about the possible mistreatment of the horses. However, reported injuries on the set were only as bad as “a broken ankle and a hangnail and a busted nose,” Gibson shared.
A typical day on the set of Braveheart for Gibson lasted 14 hours. For 105 days, the Maverick actor faced the most demanding film project of his career. His hard work paid off when Braveheart grossed $213.2 million at the box office. While the film didn’t secure a spot on the SAG Awards list, it prevailed over strong contenders during that time.
Nevertheless, the film garnered mixed reviews regarding its historical accuracy. Gibson clarified that it was a fictionalized interpretation of events, inspired by the storytelling elements from writer Randall Wallace.
Horses can be so unpredictable, but we are glad that Mel Gibson recovered and has given us amazing films over the years!