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War Movies with Lasting Impact on Actors' Lives

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Get ready for action as this captivating gallery takes you behind the scenes of some of the most iconic war movies in history. Discover the harsh reality that actors faced, from grueling boot camps that pushed their physical limits to on-set accidents that left lasting scars. This collection showcases the commitment, endurance, and sheer determination that brought these intense roles to life. Each image and accompanying story unveils the true nature of the industry, far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Delve into the intense training behind ‘Platoon,’ the unexpected typhoon that disrupted ‘Apocalypse Now,’ and the camaraderie that helped the cast of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ recreate the horrors of D-Day. So grab a bucket of popcorn, get comfortable, and prepare yourself for an inside look into the world of war films that is just as riveting as the movies themselves.

License Required for Exhumation of Ancient Cadavers During Filming of ‘1917

License Required for Exhumation of Ancient Cadavers During Filming of '1917
Universal Pictures
Emma Pill, the location manager for the film 1917, had to ensure that all necessary procedures were followed before making any alterations to the landscape near Stonehenge where many scenes were filmed. This included completing all the paperwork in case they accidentally uncovered any ancient corpses. In order to be prepared for such a situation, Emma had to obtain a license to exhume bodies. While modern bodies would require immediate involvement of the police, ancient bodies necessitated a license and permission to be removed from the ground. Fortunately, no bodies were found during the trench-digging process. However, it was the responsibility of the film crew to refill all the holes they had dug by the time the movie production was finished.

Cast of ‘Black Hawk Down’ United by Challenging Filming Experiences, Eric Bana Reveals

Cast of 'Black Hawk Down' United by Challenging Filming Experiences, Eric Bana Reveals
Sony Pictures Releasing
The 2001 film Black Hawk Down is often associated with the phrase “grueling endeavor.” The actors underwent a demanding Ranger orientation program, guided by experienced military officers who were part of the actual battle. This training was exceptionally rigorous, pushing the actors to their limits both physically and mentally, mirroring the hardships faced by the soldiers they portrayed. The scorching Moroccan climate presented a significant hurdle for the cast and crew. Despite these challenges, Eric Bana, who portrayed Hoot, believes that the experience ultimately strengthened the bond among the cast.

Obstacle Course Scene in ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Leads to Ligament Tear for Vincent D’Onofrio Due to His Remarkable Weight Gain

Obstacle Course Scene in 'Full Metal Jacket' Leads to Ligament Tear for Vincent D'Onofrio Due to His Remarkable Weight Gain
Warner Bros
For his role as Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket, actor Vincent D’Onofrio underwent a drastic transformation. He gained a remarkable 70 pounds, which made him almost unrecognizable and put a significant strain on his body. Unfortunately, the extra weight caused him to tear the ligaments in his legs during the memorable “obstacle course” scene of the film. The toll was not only physical but also emotional and psychological, as D’Onofrio’s character endured intense abuse from R. Lee Ermey’s character, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. After filming concluded, it took D’Onofrio more than nine months to return to his original body weight.

Hacksaw Ridge’ Helped Andrew Garfield Find Spiritual Clarity for His Character

Hacksaw Ridge' Helped Andrew Garfield Find Spiritual Clarity for His Character
Lionsgate
Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, recounts the remarkable true tale of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who courageously served as a medic during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. Despite his strong religious beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist, Doss felt a deep sense of duty to his country and saved numerous lives without ever resorting to violence. This contradiction intrigued actor Andrew Garfield, who fully immersed himself in Doss’s world in order to prepare for the role. Garfield delved into Doss’s personal writings and religious texts, listened to his recorded speeches to grasp his southern accent, and even visited the locations from Doss’s childhood and spoke with those who knew him. The character of Doss resonated with Garfield, as Doss managed to transcend the prevailing cultural norms through his unwavering faith. He became a symbol of compassion and selflessness, embodying the golden rule of treating others as one would like to be treated and willing to sacrifice himself for his fellow soldiers. Despite facing armed adversaries, Doss fearlessly maintained his innocence and resolved, stating, “I can’t do that.”

Full Metal Jacket’ Nearly Destroyed Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Friendship

Full Metal Jacket' Nearly Destroyed Matthew Modine and Vincent D'Onofrio's Friendship
Warner Bros
While filming Full Metal Jacket, Matthew Modine, who portrayed Private Joker, and Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Private Pyle, had a strong bond that was nearly broken due to their different artistic approaches. Modine was not fond of D’Onofrio’s method acting, while D’Onofrio believed Modine’s more relaxed approach indicated a lack of dedication.

The Deer Hunter’ Set Incident: Christopher Walken Endured a Slap During Filming

The Deer Hunter' Set Incident: Christopher Walken Endured a Slap During Filming
Universal Pictures
The Deer Hunter, directed by Michael Cimino and winner of an Oscar, features multiple impactful scenes. However, one scene stands out as particularly powerful, chilling, and controversial – the infamous Russian roulette sequence. This scene is filled with palpable tension, as Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken portray characters clearly on edge. Surprisingly, the intensity of their performances may have been fueled by the fact that they were actually being slapped by the person overseeing the game. Interestingly, the first actor hired for the film was unable to slap DeNiro, leading the production team to recruit a local individual with a dislike for Americans. The repeated slapping during filming left the actors feeling quite unsettled, ultimately contributing to the added intensity of the scene.

Apocalypse Now’ Sets Devastated by Typhoon Olga

Apocalypse Now' Sets Devastated by Typhoon Olga
United Artists
The making of Apocalypse Now was filled with chaos and challenges. The production faced numerous obstacles, from health issues among the cast to delays in shooting and a growing budget. Amidst all this turmoil, nature decided to contribute its own twist to the story. In 1976, a powerful typhoon named Olga hit the Philippines, causing havoc on the film sets with its strong winds and heavy rainfall. The storm wreaked havoc, damaging expensive sets and equipment. As a result, the production had to be put on hold for almost two months, causing major disruptions to the shooting schedule and forcing the crew to evacuate. However, director Coppola was not discouraged easily. He saw the disaster as an integral part of the filmmaking process, a physical representation of the chaos and unpredictability the movie aimed to capture. Consequently, the typhoon became a legendary part of the film’s history, symbolizing the tumultuous journey taken to bring Apocalypse Now to the silver screen.

Fury’ Training Designed to Inflict Misery on Us, Reveals Brad Pitt

Fury' Training Designed to Inflict Misery on Us, Reveals Brad Pitt
Sony Pictures Releasing
In the movie Fury, Brad Pitt takes on the role of Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier, who leads a crew of five in a Sherman tank. Director David Ayer aimed to accurately depict the life of tank soldiers, so he put the cast through an intense training program led by Navy SEALs. This training not only focused on physical fitness, but also emphasized building camaraderie and understanding of military hierarchy. As the tank commander, Pitt was responsible for pushing his crew members during this training to establish his authority. Additionally, the cast spent a significant amount of time inside the tight and confined space of the tank, learning about its operation and mechanics. Ayer’s dedication to realism led to challenging shooting conditions, with the actors performing their own stunts whenever possible. Pitt even sustained an injury during one scene, but he was determined to continue filming. Despite the difficulties, Pitt had a positive outlook on the experience, particularly highlighting the strong bond he formed with his fellow actors.

Brad Pitt Suffers Achilles Tendon Injury on Set of ‘Troy

Brad Pitt Suffers Achilles Tendon Injury on Set of 'Troy
Warner Bros
In the movie Troy, Brad Pitt took on the role of Achilles, the legendary Greek hero known for his almost invincible nature, except for his vulnerable heel. Interestingly, life imitated art during the filming when Pitt actually injured his Achilles tendon, the same body part closely associated with his character. The injury occurred due to the physical demands of the role, such as constant jumping and fighting in the sand. Towards the end of filming, after months of intense shooting and training, Pitt’s Achilles tendon gave in and required rest. While this setback affected the production of Troy, it also added a unique layer of mythology to the film, highlighting the susceptibility of the seemingly indestructible Achilles.

Bradley Cooper Takes Precautions Against Potential Threats When Entering Rooms Following ‘American Sniper

Bradley Cooper Takes Precautions Against Potential Threats When Entering Rooms Following 'American Sniper
Warner Bros
To portray the character of Chris Kyle in American Sniper, Cooper had to undergo a remarkable transformation, both physically and mentally. Reports suggest that he gained approximately 40 pounds of muscle for the role, adhering to a strict diet and workout routine that involved consuming 6,000 calories per day and intense weightlifting training. The production of American Sniper was also emotionally challenging for Cooper. One of the most stressful scenes he had to film was the phone conversation between Chris Kyle and his wife, Taya, while he was in the midst of a firefight. In interviews, Cooper has expressed how difficult and emotionally exhausting it was to shoot this sequence, and how he continues to feel the presence of Kyle within him.

Kubrick’s Wavelength Was Unattainable for ‘Paths Of Glory’ Actors

Kubrick's Wavelength Was Unattainable for 'Paths Of Glory' Actors
United Artists
Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 film, “Paths of Glory,” has gained recognition for its powerful criticism of the military and the futility of war. The dedicated cast and crew faced the notorious precision of Kubrick’s direction, all while delivering emotionally charged performances. One notable instance was the “last meal” scene, which required a staggering 68 takes, each demanding a freshly prepared roast duck. Additionally, the filming of the prison scene, where the characters pondered their destinies, went beyond the scheduled time and spilled into a Saturday. Despite the producer reminding Kubrick that overtime filming was not allowed in Germany, he persisted until he was satisfied, ultimately completing Take 74. It is these very challenges that have contributed to the enduring legacy of “Paths of Glory.”

Adrien Brody’s Heart was Broken by the Thin Red Line

Adrien Brody's Heart was Broken by the Thin Red Line
20th Century Fox
The Thin Red Line, a film directed by Terrence Malick and released in 1998, strays from the typical war genre. Instead, it offers a profound and introspective examination of the human experience amidst the Guadalcanal campaign in World War II. The movie features an impressive ensemble cast including Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, and Jim Caviezel, portraying characters who grapple with their fears, guilt, and the moral complexities of war. Unfortunately, Brody experienced heartbreak when he saw his role as Geoffrey Fife, originally intended as a lead character, reduced to just two lines in the final cut.

Eric Bana and Brad Pitt Enter Agreement to Exchange Payments for Successful Hits in ‘Troy

Eric Bana and Brad Pitt Enter Agreement to Exchange Payments for Successful Hits in 'Troy
Warner Bros
That’s where all that Hollywood money ends up! During the filming of Troy, Eric Bana, portraying Hector, and Brad Pitt, portraying Achilles, made the bold decision to forgo stunt doubles and personally film their fight scenes. To add excitement, they even placed bets – $100 for a solid strike and $50 for a softer touch. Unfortunately for Pitt, this gamble proved unfavorable as he ended up owing Bana a hefty sum of $750. Undoubtedly, that must have been quite painful!

Gettysburg’ Filming Incident Leaves Extra with Concussion

Gettysburg' Filming Incident Leaves Extra with Concussion
New Line Cinema
The 1993 film Gettysburg was renowned for its expansive scope and meticulous attention to historical accuracy. Portraying a crucial battle of the American Civil War, the film required a large number of extras, including Civil War reenactors, to represent the Union and Confederate armies. These individuals played a vital role in the film’s endeavor to faithfully recreate the historic clash. Unfortunately, during one of the battle scenes, an extra named Bradley Egan suffered a concussion caused by an unidentified person. Egan’s brother, Brian, recalls the incident, describing the surreal atmosphere of reenacting a famous Civil War charge while his brother was genuinely injured. Due to the chaos of the battle and being briefly knocked out, Bradley does not remember the exact details of what happened but recalls seeing a musket’s stock swinging towards his face. The guilty party never came forward, remaining just out of the camera’s view, leaving the mystery of Bradley’s injury on the Little Round Top set unsolved. Fortunately, Egan’s concussion was not severe, and both he and his brother left the Gettysburg set unharmed.

Meg Ryan Finds M16 ‘Insufficiently Challenging’ Following ‘Courage Under Fire

Meg Ryan Finds M16 'Insufficiently Challenging' Following 'Courage Under Fire
20th Century Fox
In 1996, Courage Under Fire made its debut and provided a unique viewpoint on the Gulf War, presenting a captivating blend of mystery, bravery, and selflessness. Denzel Washington’s remarkable portrayal of a remorseful officer and Meg Ryan’s transformative character as a helicopter pilot showcased the film’s exceptional character progression. Despite Ryan’s unwavering support for gun control, her experience with the weaponry utilized during the making of Courage Under Fire and her preparation for the role intensified her dedication to being a passionate advocate.

Channing Tatum Sustains Injury to His Private Parts During ‘The Eagle’ Filming

Channing Tatum Sustains Injury to His Private Parts During 'The Eagle' Filming
Focus Features
It is often said that actors must endure hardships for their craft, and Channing Tatum experienced this firsthand while playing a Roman soldier in the 2011 film The Eagle. Filming in the unforgiving cold of the Scottish Highlands proved to be an unexpected trial for Tatum. To combat the freezing temperatures, the actors would pour warm water into their pants, over their wetsuits. However, on one unfortunate day, Tatum was mistakenly given scalding water instead of the intended warm water. This resulted in burns to his intimate areas and caused him to panic. Overwhelmed, he began hyperventilating and screaming, jumping back into the hypothermic river. The fact that they were wearing wetsuits made the situation even worse.

Tom Hanks Considers Omaha Beach a Sacred Place After ‘Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks Considers Omaha Beach a Sacred Place After 'Saving Private Ryan
Dreamworks Pictures
Filming Saving Private Ryan had a profound impact on Tom Hanks, transforming him in the process. To adequately prepare for the film, Hanks and the rest of the cast underwent an intensive boot camp under the guidance of military advisor Captain Dale Dye, a former Marine. This boot camp replicated the rigorous physical demands and absence of creature comforts experienced in real military training. Dye’s objective was not solely to get the actors in shape but also to instill in them a genuine understanding of the unbreakable bond that soldiers form when facing adversity. The infamous Omaha Beach landing scene, renowned for its realistic and raw portrayal of war, took a toll on everyone involved, both physically and emotionally. When Hanks visited the actual Omaha beach, he described the experience as treading on sacred ground.

Exorbitant Effort and Finances Invested Into Capturing the D-Day Sequence in ‘Saving Private Ryan

Exorbitant Effort and Finances Invested Into Capturing the D-Day Sequence in 'Saving Private Ryan
Dreamworks Pictures
The opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan,” known as the D-Day sequence, has been widely praised for its realistic portrayal of war in cinema history. Lasting 27 minutes, this sequence depicts the brutal and chaotic events of the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944. Not only is it a technical achievement, but it also demonstrates director Steven Spielberg’s dedication to authenticity. The filming process lasted for more than two weeks, involving 1,500 extras, and was done in chronological order to maintain the scene’s emotional consistency. To find a suitable location, Spielberg chose Ballinesker Beach in Ireland due to its striking resemblance to Omaha Beach in Normandy, the actual site of the invasion. Spielberg and his team devoted great attention to detail in creating the soundscape, aiming to fully immerse the audience in the battle’s chaos and brutality. The contrast between the deafening sounds of war and the ringing silence experienced by Captain Miller, played by Tom Hanks, effectively conveys the disorientation and fear faced by soldiers on the battlefield.

The Hurt Locker’ Training Equipped Jeremy Renner with Bomb-Building Expertise

The Hurt Locker' Training Equipped Jeremy Renner with Bomb-Building Expertise
Summit Entertainment
During the preparation for The Hurt Locker, actor Jeremy Renner and his fellow actors underwent extensive training at California’s Fort Irwin alongside actual bomb crews. Their training involved acquiring skills in constructing and disassembling bombs. Given Renner’s role as Staff Sergeant Will James, a proficient bomb technician, it was crucial for him to familiarize himself with the intricacies of explosives. Nevertheless, some of the knowledge imparted by the bomb crew during training proved to be unsettling.

Shia LaBeouf Emerged from ‘Fury’ Missing a Tooth

Shia LaBeouf Emerged from 'Fury' Missing a Tooth
Sony Pictures Releasing
In his pursuit of authenticity and dedication to his character, Boyd “Bible” Swan in David Ayer’s World War II film Fury, actor Shia LaBeouf took method acting to an entirely new level. LaBeouf immersed himself in the role by spending a month living on an army base, abstaining from showering for weeks to better understand the harsh conditions of the battlefield. However, what shocked many was his extreme commitment when he decided to pull out one of his own teeth. He believed that Swan, being a rugged and tough soldier, would likely have a missing tooth. To accurately portray this aspect of the character, LaBeouf visited a dentist and had a healthy tooth extracted, without using any anesthesia. Undoubtedly, this level of commitment showcases LaBeouf’s dedication to his craft.

Tom Cruise Reveals Constant Tension during the Making of ‘Born on the Fourth of July

Tom Cruise Reveals Constant Tension during the Making of 'Born on the Fourth of July
Universal Pictures
Born On The Fourth Of July was a film that demanded a great deal of dedication from everyone involved, especially its star, Tom Cruise, who portrayed Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. In order to fully inhabit the role, Cruise dedicated himself to a thorough period of research and physical preparation. He spent significant time with Kovic, gaining insight into his firsthand experiences, his views on the war, the life-altering injury that rendered him paralyzed from the waist down, and his subsequent activism against the conflict. The demanding nature of playing Kovic caused the boundaries between Cruise and the character to become increasingly blurred.

Charlie Sheen Shares Feeling of Being Expected to Scrub Latrines on Set of ‘Platoon

Charlie Sheen Shares Feeling of Being Expected to Scrub Latrines on Set of 'Platoon
Orion Pictures
Platoon, a Vietnam War classic directed by Oliver Stone in 1986, is widely acclaimed for its gripping and unfiltered depiction of the horrors of war. This authenticity was achieved through a rigorous and demanding preparation process that pushed the ensemble cast, including Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, and Tom Berenger, to their physical and mental limits and even beyond. The actors swiftly shed their familiar Hollywood comforts as they were made to construct their own foxholes, sleep on the bare ground, and endure grueling physical exercises every day, all while carrying heavy military equipment. Playing the character Chris, Sheen portrayed a low-ranking soldier, thus requiring him to tackle the most menial and laborious tasks.

Evacuation Required as Severe Weather Halts ‘Starship Troopers’ Filming

Evacuation Required as Severe Weather Halts 'Starship Troopers' Filming
Tristar Pictures
Director Paul Verhoeven’s satirical film Starship Troopers faced numerous unique challenges, including the unpredictable and brutal weather conditions. The majority of the action sequences, which took place on an alien planet, were shot in South Dakota’s Badlands. These locations were specifically chosen for their desolate and otherworldly landscapes that perfectly matched Verhoeven’s vision. However, the Badlands were also notorious for their harsh and ever-changing weather, characterized by scorching days and freezing nights. To make matters worse, a two-week long rainstorm hit, leading to the evacuation of the cast and crew. Nevertheless, despite these obstacles, Starship Troopers successfully depicted an alien warzone in a visually stunning and captivating manner.

Martin Sheen’s Struggle with Personal Demons During the Filming of ‘Apocalypse Now

Martin Sheen's Struggle with Personal Demons During the Filming of 'Apocalypse Now
United Artists
Martin Sheen’s portrayal of Captain Benjamin L. Willard in Apocalypse Now was a defining moment in his career, although the making of the film was notoriously difficult. Originally, Harvey Keitel had been cast in the role of Willard, but was replaced just one week into production. Sheen fully immersed himself in the character, which proved to be a challenging role that often blurred the boundaries between fiction and reality. In the film’s memorable opening scene, an intoxicated and mentally troubled Willard destroys his hotel room. Sheen, genuinely intoxicated during filming, improvised much of the scene, even going so far as to injure himself by punching a mirror. The most distressing incident took place when Sheen suffered a heart attack while filming in the Philippines, at the young age of 36. After a brief break, Sheen returned to finish his scenes, despite not being fully recovered. Despite the physical and emotional toll of the production, Sheen’s performance in Apocalypse Now is widely considered one of his finest.

Demi Moore Discovers Elite Soldiers Exist in a “Different Reality” while Filming ‘G.I. Jane

Demi Moore Discovers Elite Soldiers Exist in a "Different Reality" while Filming 'G.I. Jane
Buena Vista Pictures
In 1997, the release of the movie “G.I. Jane” left audiences in awe as they witnessed Demi Moore’s astonishing transformation into Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil, the first woman to partake in the arduous SEAL program of the U.S. Navy. With the guidance of former Navy SEALs, Moore’s grueling daily schedule commenced before sunrise and stretched late into the night. Her regime consisted of a ruthless amalgamation of strength training, endurance exercises, martial arts, and extensive weapons training. In order to truly capture the essence of the demanding SEAL training, Moore was subjected to a series of physically grueling and mentally taxing trials, including obstacle courses, lengthy swims, and live-fire exercises. These challenges were designed to push her to her limits, to teach her the invaluable lesson of digging deep and persevering even when every fiber of her being yearned to give up.

The Hurt Locker’ Forced Jeremy Renner to Endure 100 Degree Days Trapped in Bomb Suit

The Hurt Locker' Forced Jeremy Renner to Endure 100 Degree Days Trapped in Bomb Suit
Summit Entertainment
In the film The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner portrayed William James, an EOD bomb technician. Renner referred to his connection with the blast-resistant bomb suit he wore as a complex mixture of affection and frustration. This sentiment is easily comprehensible considering the extensive hours he spent donning the suit, enduring scorching temperatures in the desert. Furthermore, the 100 lb suit played a significant role in the overall impact of The Hurt Locker.

Close Call: ‘Inglorious Basterds’ Cast Escapes Incineration in Theater Scene

Close Call: 'Inglorious Basterds' Cast Escapes Incineration in Theater Scene
The Weinstein Company
In typical Quentin Tarantino fashion, Inglourious Basterds showcases bold storytelling and exhilarating climaxes, and the film’s climax is no different. Set during a movie premiere in Nazi-occupied Paris, the Basterds, a group of Jewish American soldiers, and Shosanna Dreyfus, a vengeful theater owner, hatch a plot. Their goal? To trap the Nazis inside the theater and set it ablaze. While the on-screen execution goes smoothly, behind the scenes, things almost went awry. Eli Roth, who portrayed Donny Donowitz, revealed in an interview that it was a nail-biting close call.

Medevac Required for Willem DaFoe on the Set of ‘Platoon

Medevac Required for Willem DaFoe on the Set of 'Platoon
Orion Pictures
During the filming of Platoon, Willem Dafoe, along with his co-actors John C. McGinley, Charlie Sheen, and Tom Berenger, underwent intense training. However, it was Dafoe who unfortunately had to be medevac’d, due to an unfortunate incident involving a dead ox. John C. McGinley vividly recounts the event and describes the entire filming experience as resembling a horrifying nightmare.

Stuntmen Endured Numerous Injuries While Filming ‘Lone Survivor

Stuntmen Endured Numerous Injuries While Filming 'Lone Survivor
Universal Pictures
To bring a story like “Lone Survivor” to life, an unmatched dedication to authenticity was required. This commitment was not only expected from the actors but also from the stuntmen who were responsible for executing the film’s most dangerous scenes. One particular sequence that stands out is the cliff fall, known for its intensity and inherent danger. In this scene, the SEAL team members throw themselves down a rocky cliffside to evade enemy fire. Filming this sequence was just as perilous as it appeared on screen. Experienced stuntmen performed it, but the actors, including Ben Foster and Mark Wahlberg, initially expressed a desire to do the fall themselves. However, director Peter Berg had to intervene and remind them to entrust the task to the professionals.

1917′ Actor George MacKay Truly Tumbled During the Trench Run

1917' Actor George MacKay Truly Tumbled During the Trench Run
Universal Pictures
In the iconic Trench Run scene, an unexpected twist occurred. While en route to Colonel Mckenzie, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, Lance Corporal William Schofield, portrayed by George MacKay, was unexpectedly bumped into by another soldier. This unplanned stumble was not originally scripted, as MacKay was intended to navigate around the other cast members. However, the incident proved to be so compelling that the filmmakers ultimately chose to include it in the final version of the scene.