Many movie genres exist, but action flicks are a particularly interesting and nostalgic niche, as they can include everything from war to science fiction, and from crime to fantasy. It seems like the main genre of the 1980s was action movies, but that's not the only decade to feature exceptional examples of the category.
Thousands of talented writers, artists, actors, producers, directors, and cinematographers created some of the most memorable action scenes dealing with wars, vengeance, crime, and much more. Many of these films still stand up despite the times they're set in having come and gone. These include the likes of Commando, Red Dawn, and Bloodsport - all classics that carry nostalgia for those who viewed them years ago and then watched them later in life.
Looking back through the decades filled with engaging action movies, a few periods truly stand out. While every decade features notable films in the genre, the 1980s and '90s had something special going on. This list identifies some of the more interesting behind-the-scenes facts from these films that many viewers don’t know about. Vote up those that blew you away the most!
- Photo: Warner Bros.123 VOTES
Al Pacino Said He Played His ‘Heat’ Character As A Cocaine User
If you've seen 1995's Heat, you know Al Pacino went all out in playing Lt. Vincent Hanna, and the character is a bit unhinged. Apparently, there's a good reason for his disposition, and it has everything to do with the inimitable actor's choice of how to play him.
While answering questions at a live Q&A in 2016, Pacino explained that Hanna is constantly taking cocaine: “He's a guy who chips cocaine. That was a choice we made and yet not showing it because it would be too [obvious].”
This is clear if you watch the scene where Hanna questions Alan Marciano (Hank Azaria). It was filmed relatively normally, but then Pacino wanted to try something a bit different, and that's the take that made it into the film. Azaria's reaction is genuine because nobody gave him a heads up before Pacino went off the rails, yelling, “Because she's got a greeaaat a**! And you've got your head all the way up it!”
Director Michael Mann recounted the process:
[Pacino's] takes that were great takes, that became prints, were always, like, five, six, or seven. Five, six, or seven, he hit the zone, and that's where all the great takes were… And then he'd say, ‘let me do a wild one.’ And that became a shorthand for Al to just basically unplug. And sometimes it would be outrageous and absolutely terrible, and sometimes it would be absolutely brilliant. ‘Cause he wouldn't know what was going to happen… It didn't occur to me that this was… Azaria's first day on the show… so Hank had no idea what was coming. Neither did I, neither did Al.
- Photo: MGM/UA Distribution Co.223 VOTES
The ‘GoldenEye’ Filmmakers Offered Alan Cumming The Statue Of Him Frozen To Death
For many fans new to the franchise, GoldenEye was an exceptionally well-made James Bond film. It was Pierce Brosnan's debut as 007, and features all the tropes that make the Bond franchise so compelling. One of the best characters is Alan Cummings's Boris Grishenko, who functions as the main bad guy - Alec Trevelyan's henchman/IT expert.
In the final act of the 1995 film, Grishenko thinks he has miraculously survived the destruction of the villain's base. He triumphantly stands up, raises his fists in excitement, shouts his catchphrase “I am invincible!” – and is immediately covered with liquid nitrogen, freezing him for all time. The visual effects folks made a full-size statue of Cummings for the final shot. After production wrapped, they offered it to him, but he declined. As he explained in a Vulture interview:
We also had to get this life-size model of me crafted - once all that dry ice clears and I’m frozen, that’s a model - and they said to me, “Do you want to keep this model?” What, a model of myself frozen to death, looking really unattractive? Hmm. Let me think about that. No.
But I wish I had because it’s always in these James Bond exhibitions all over the place - it was in Planet Hollywood in London in the window. I was like, “Oh, for f**k's sake.” Then people sent me photographs of it around the world in various places. I wish I had kept it, so they wouldn’t be able to take my ugly, frozen-dead self and parade it around the world.
- Photo: Tri-Star Pictures310 VOTES
A Producer Bought The Rights To ‘The Running Man’ Book Without Knowing The Author Was Stephen King
The Running Man is a 1980s action movie featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and many of his pals in a contest for survival and ratings. The film mixes sci-fi with action and some of the cheesiest one-liners imaginable into a riveting tale of vengeance and corny killing machines. It’s a quintessential ‘80s action flick, but what many people never realize is that it’s based on a novel by Stephen King.
King once wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, which is the name he used when he penned The Running Man in 1982. As it happens, George Linder, the producer who bought the film rights, had no idea who Bachman was. In an interview with Cinefantastique, he explained how he went about acquiring the license:
I contacted the author’s agent and was a bit taken aback to learn that he was asking a comparatively great deal of money for the option of a book which had less than 100,000 copies in print. I mean, who had ever heard of Richard Bachman."
Despite the hefty price tag, Linder coughed up the $20,000 fee to acquire the rights (with a bump that would kick in if it was filmed). It took some time, but Linder finally realized who he was truly dealing with when he brought Rob Cohen in on the project. Screenwriter Steven Souza recounted how that went down:
Cohen said, “Boy, you made a lousy deal. Why is the second payment [on the option] so high?” That’s when they realized it was Stephen King.
- Photo: The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day / Apparition428 VOTES
During Casting, 'The Boondocks Saints’ Director Rejected Ethan Hawke As A ‘Talentless Fool’
The Boondock Saints has always been a cult classic. The film came out of nowhere in 1999 and blew everyone away via its unique storytelling, fascinating characters, and Tarantino-esque levels of violence. Written and directed by Troy Duffy in his debut film, it stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as Connor and Murphy MacManus, brothers who take up arms against the local crime syndicate in Boston.
Like any film, a plethora of actors auditioned or were discussed for the lead roles, and director Duffy rejected a bunch of A-listers. Brad Pitt's name was floated, but Duffy outright rejected him for any roles, while he called Keanu Reeves a “punk” and believed Ethan Hawke was “a talentless fool.” While it's easy to argue with Duffy's opinions, it's difficult to imagine anyone but Flanery and Reedus playing the MacManus brothers.