But the other actors? Not so much. The main group of actors went through a grueling 10-day boot camp prior to filming, but Matt Damon was spared the hell week so that the other actors’ resent for him would show in their performances.
2. Spielberg Would Have Re-Shot The Movie Because Of Heroin
Actor Tom Sizemore, who plays Sergeant Horvath, was a heroin addict prior to filming the movie. Spielberg forced Sizemore to take drug tests on set and vowed that if the actor tested positive for drugs, he would fire him. According to Sizemore, Spielberg said “he would fire me on the spot and shoot all 58 days that I’d worked over again with someone else.”
The Normandy beach where D-Day had actually occurred had strict filming restrictions, so the Omaha Beach sequence was actually filmed in Ireland. More than 2,000 Irish Reserve Army troops were recruited to storm the beach during the battle scenes.
4. It Took Four Weeks To Film The Omaha Beach Battle
To this day, the D-Day sequence in Saving Private Ryan is considered one of the best, most realistic battle scenes in cinema. To accomplish this feat, Spielberg spent four weeks filming the sequence, which cost an extraordinary 12 million dollars and was never storyboarded in order to enhance the realism of the battle.
5. Damon Wasn’t The Only Actor Considered For Private Ryan
Spielberg wanted a relatively unknown actor for the part of Private Ryan, which ultimately backfired when Matt Damon skyrocketed to stardom right before Saving Private Ryan due to his role in Good Will Hunting. Another actor that was considered for the role of Private Ryan was Neil Patrick Harris.
6. Other A-List Stars Were Also Considered For Tom Hanks’ Role
Tom Hanks, who played Captain John Miller, received an Academy Award nomination for the lead role in Saving Private Ryan. He wasn’t the only high-profile actor considered for the part, though. Spielberg also considered Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson before choosing Hanks (definitely the right choice, in my book).
Saving Private Ryan is partly based on the real-life story of the Niland brothers, who fought for the U.S. during World War II. Three of the brothers were thought to have been killed in action, so the last remaining Niland brother was shipped back home so the family wouldn’t lose all of the sons. One of the other Niland brothers, Edward, was ultimately found alive after surviving a Japanese prison camp.
8. Matt Damon’s Ad-Lib Story Made It Into The Movie
Remember that scene where Private Ryan rambles on about spying on his brother and an “ugly” in the barn? Well, none of it was in the script. Matt Damon ad-libbed the entire story, and Steven Spielberg felt that it was very true to Ryan’s character so he kept it in the movie.
During the D-Day scene, somewhere between 20 and 30 actual amputees portrayed injured soldiers in order to make the scene more realistic. The maimed American soldiers that you see during the landing scene? They’re actually Irish amputees.
11. Many Veterans Couldn’t Make It Through The Film
The battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan were so realistic that many veterans walked out of theaters mid-movie. In preparation for the film’s release, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also established a special hotline for veterans to call if the movie brought on PTSD.