20 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Famous Action Movies

List Rules
Vote up the facts that made you say, 'Whoa.'

Action movies are probably some of the best-earning films of all time, thanks in no small part to the recent run of superhero movies. Of course, action flicks are more than just superheroes - they can feature an everyman hero like John McClane from the Die Hard franchise or a muscle-bound super soldier like Arnold Schwarzenegger in any of his action movies, not to mention Sylvester Stallone and Dwayne Johnson in any of theirs.

They may seem like easy-to-make popcorn flicks targeting easy money, and while there's undoubtedly some of that in the genre, most good action films have a lot going on that fans know little to nothing about. No matter how many times you watch First Blood, John Wick, or The Dark Knight trilogy, you're not going to know everything there is to know about the movies... unless you worked on them, and even then, there are probably a few things you didn't know about famous action movies!

This list features some of the most interesting nuances of the very best action movies ever made. Whether it's about the actors playing a hero or about the production itself, odds are, even the most ardent action movie fan won't know it all. 

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    222 VOTES

    'Indiana Jones' Exists Because Steven Spielberg Wasn't Allowed To Direct A 'James Bond' Movie

    Steven Spielberg is one of the world's most prolific and profitable directors, so when he decided he wanted to make a James Bond movie, it was a bit surprising that he wasn't allowed to film one. Spielberg went to one of his best friends, fellow director George Lucas, and told him about his dissatisfaction with being rejected. Lucas recounted the conversation they had on a beach one day:

    Steven was telling me how he really wanted to do a James Bond film, and that he actually went to the people who owned James Bond and asked them if he could direct one... and they turned him down. So I said, "Well, look, Steven, I've got a James Bond film. It's great - it's just like James Bond but even better." I told him the story about this archeologist and said it was like a Saturday-matinee serial, that he just got into one mess after another. And Steven said, "Fantastic, let's do this!"

    So, with that conversation, Indiana Jones was born, and Raiders of the Lost Ark became one of the greatest action-adventure movies ever made. It spawned a sequel (or two), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom features a little nod to the franchise Spielberg initially wanted to make. The scene with Indiana Jones wearing a white tuxedo with a red flower has the archaeologist wearing the same costume James Bond (Sean Connery) wore in Goldfinger. It appeared decades later when Bond (Daniel Craig) wore it in Spectre.

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    190 VOTES

    The Nazi Uniforms In 'The Last Crusade' Are 100% Legit From WWII

    There's not a lot of historical accuracy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade despite the fact that it incorporates real-world events. Still, it's a fictional tale, and most people probably wouldn't expect to find a whole lot of accuracy in it. That said, it's always important to try and get the costumes as historically accurate as possible since the filmmaker's goal is to present a realistic depiction of events.

    In The Last Crusade, the uniforms were actually on point, and the uniforms in question were those worn by the Nazis during the "book burning" scene. Not only were the Nazi uniforms historically accurate, but they were also 100% real. Costume designer Anthony Powell scoured Germany for uniforms for the scene, which included hundreds of extras. He found hundreds of authentic WWII Nazi uniforms, and those were used in the scene, making them some of the most/only authentic Nazi uniforms used in a major feature film production.

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    213 VOTES

    Carrie Fisher Worked On The Scripts For 'Lethal Weapon 3,' 'Hook,' And The 'Star Wars' Prequels

    Carrie Fisher wrote eight books, two plays, and two screenplays, but she was also a prominent script doctor, which is pretty much what it sounds like. A script doctor joins a project to rewrite and polish an existing script by adding structure, fixing the pacing, fleshing out characters, and repairing other elements.

    Fisher was often called on to help with a script, and because the role of a script doctor is uncredited as a writer, most people never knew. She worked on Sister Act, Last Action HeroAnastasia, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, The Wedding Singer, and all three Star Wars prequel films. She was lauded as "one of the most sought-after doctors in town" by Entertainment Weekly

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    206 VOTES

    Keanu Reeves Learned Judo And Jiu-Jitsu To Prepare For 'John Wick'

    Keanu Reeves Learned Judo And Jiu-Jitsu To Prepare For 'John Wick'
    Photo: Lionsgate

    Keanu Reeves is one of those actors who devotes a great deal of time preparing for roles. When he appeared in The Matrix and had his "I know kung fu" line, he wasn't just saying what his character said in the script. The man literally learned kung fu, and for the entirety of the Matrix trilogy, he learned around 200 martial arts moves, so his blocks and attacks were correctly done in every scene.

    Reeves didn't stop learning to prepare for a role with Neo. He dug in even deeper to prepare for his eponymous role in John Wick. While it's true the character uses a firearm in most scenes, when he gets up close and personal, the retired assassin utilizes judo and Jiu-Jitsu to take down his enemies. Reeves learned both martial arts in preparation for the role, and he spent a solid four months on Judo alone. He was awarded an honorary black belt, presented to him by three-time Olympic champion Nomura Tadahiro. In the movie, John Wick performs one of Nomura's trademark moves, the ippon seoi nage.

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    149 VOTES

    The Special Effects In 'Jurassic Park' Revolutionized The Film Industry

    If you sit down and watch the original Jurassic Park, you'll see a movie with special effects that still stand up today. That's important, seeing as the film was released in 1993, and those special effects made a massive impact on the industry. Creating realistic dinosaurs that don't look overly animated, touched-up, or fake managed to open the eyes of several filmmakers of the time, suggesting there were other possibilities they hadn't thought of previously. The inspiration Jurassic Park provided to some of the best directors of the late-20th century made a significant impact on the film industry.

    Some of those filmmakers were George Lucas, Stanley Kubrick, and Peter Jackson. After seeing Jurassic Park, George Lucas decided the time was right for making those Star Wars prequels he teased back in 1983. For Kubrick, he chose to invest in a project he wanted to see realized, resulting in another Spielberg film, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, which is an homage to the late filmmaker. Then there's Peter Jackson, a man who probably thought making a realistic Lord of the Rings film/trilogy wasn't possible for some time, and we all know what happened with that little project.

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    226 VOTES

    The Normandy Landing Scene In 'Saving Private Ryan' Is Widely Considered The Best Battle Scene Of All Time

    War movies have been around for about as long as the medium existed, and there are plenty of incredible examples in the genre. There are fantastic war movies about all kinds of conflicts spread throughout history and all over the world, and most of them are reasonably accurate. Still, it's almost impossible to create an entirely accurate depiction of combat. Even people who've experienced it have some memory gaps, making an accurate reconstruction difficult.

    It's difficult, but not impossible, and Steven Spielberg managed to create what is widely believed to be the most accurate combat scene of all time in Saving Private Ryan. To be clear, the entire movie doesn't hold that distinction, but the opening scene depicting the Normandy invasion of Operation Overlord was so accurately depicted, it created some problems. Some military veterans who were there on D-Day experienced flashbacks from watching the scene.

    The Veteran's Administration in the United States offered up a phone number vets could call if they had some trouble after watching the movie. The PTSD hotline was overloaded by traumatized vets suffering from the intense realism of the scene. It's a remarkable scene, and it cost $12 million to film. That's the cost for a single scene in a movie, and it used more than 1,000 extras to make it as realistic as possible. Some of the extras were members of reenactment groups and the Irish Reserve Defence Forces.

    Tom Hanks described his first day of shooting the scene, saying, "I was in the back of the landing craft, and that ramp went down, and I saw the first 1-2-3-4 rows of guys just getting blown to bits. In my head, of course, I knew it was special effects, but I still wasn't prepared for how tactile it was. The air literally went pink, and the noise was deafening, and there's bits and pieces of stuff falling all on top of you, and it was horrifying."