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Highlander (1986) Poster

(1986)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (11)
All of Sean Connery's scenes had to be filmed in a week due to Connery's schedule. He had a bet with director Russell Mulcahy that they would not finish in seven days, but Mulcahy won the bet.
Gregory Widen's original screenplay was much darker, grittier and graphically violent. The main characters are also different in a number of ways; Connor was born in 1408 instead of 1518. He lived with his mother and father. In the draft, Heather (Connor's beloved wife in the film) does not exist; Connor was promised to a young girl named Mara whom he loved with all his heart, but who later rejects him after he becomes immortal. Connor leaves his village instead of being banished. His alias in the draft was Richard Tupin and he used an assortment of swords rather than the katana he took after Ramirez's death in the film. Ramirez was a Spaniard born in 1100 instead of being an ancient Egyptian born more than two thousand years earlier. The Kurgan was known as the Knight using the alias Carl Smith. He was not a savage, but a cold blooded killer. Brenda was known as Brenna Cartwright. Other major aspects were later changed during rewrites. Initially, Immortals could have children; in the draft Connor is said to have had 37. In a flashback in the first draft, Connor attends the funeral of one of his sons. His wife (in her 70s) and his two sons, who are in their mid 50s, see him revealed as an Immortal. Also, there is no "Quickening" in the first draft. When an Immortal kills another, nothing special occurs. There is no mention of the Prize either. When Connor finally kills the Knight, he feels a sharp burning pain.
Christopher Lambert had just barely learned to speak English when he took this role. The only other English-speaking film he had been in at that point was Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984), in which he spoke only a few words.
Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert got along so well during filming that they called each other by their characters' names even when they were not filming and it was at Lambert's insistence that Connery and his character returned for Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).
Queen originally intended to record only one song for the film, but after viewing footage from the movie, they were inspired to write more. The band members each had a favorite scene and composed songs specifically for them. Brian May wrote "Who Wants to Live Forever" during the cab ride home after seeing the film, and Roger Taylor used the line "It's a kind of magic" as the basis for the end title song.
The church scene involving Kurgan (Clancy Brown) was filmed at night time with the permission of the priests in charge. Still, Brown's lines were ad-libbed and were reportedly considered so sacrilegious that the priests off-camera were making the sign of the cross as he said them.
The swords sparking while clashing was accomplished by attaching a wire to each sword that led down the arms of the actors to a car battery. One was connected to the positive terminal and the other to the negative terminal, so when the swords touched there was an arc.
The opening voice over by Sean Connery has an echo effect because it was recorded in a bathroom. It was played for the producers over the phone, and they approved of it because they could not discern the quality of the recording that way.
Clancy Brown nearly turned down the role of Kurgan, concerned that his allergy to makeup would prevent him from wearing the prosthetics required late in the film.
The quickening is a term for when a baby in the womb shows its first sign of life, its first noticeable movement within the womb.
Christopher Lambert spent time with a dialogue coach, developing an accent which sounded non-specifically foreign.
Eight minutes of footage was removed from the original American theatrical release. The original version of the film was not released in America until 1996, with the "10th Anniversary Director's Cut" DVD. All subsequent DVD releases have included the director's cut. Among the footage removed: The opening flashbacks to Scotland as Connor sits in the stadium, Fasil doing back flips in the parking garage, Connor's first wife saying goodbye to him as he rides off into battle, Connor lying on the ground in agony after being stabbed by the Kurgan, and a flashback to World War II with Connor rescuing a young Rachel. In addition, the scene in which Connor is driven away from his village was trimmed, removing the head butts and the more violent punches and kicks.
Gregory Widen was inspired by the story while visiting Scotland on vacation. He was visiting a museum in Edinburgh and came across a suit of Armour and wondered what it would have been like if the man who wore the Armour was alive today.
The brandy scene with Macleod and Brenda was inspired by Russell Mulcahy's dinner with Jim Steinman who, as a wine bottle from 1949 was being opened, sniffed the air between the cork and the bottle and told Mulcahy that he just sniffed air from 1949.
During the film scene at Eilean Donan castle, the car park by the castle had to be covered up with tons of peat to disguise it, the house located by the bridge out to the Castle was boxed in with hardboard and painted over so that it looked just like real stone even when you stood right beside it. Extras were paid £25 a day with a £10 bonus if they took their own horse. A lot of the locals took days off work to do it.
The Duellists (1977) was one of Gregory Widen's inspirations for the film.
The brief snippet of "New York, New York" performed by Queen during the movie has never been released officially on an album or single by the group. It wasn't included on the official soundtrack either. The soundtrack was released and then deleted, and re-released in 2003 as a numbered limited edition.
The opening scene was intended to take place during an NHL hockey match, but the NHL refused to allow the crew to film there because, by the crew's own admission, they were intending to emphasize the violence of the hockey match.
The opening credits, with red text on a black background, were only intended to be temporary, place-holding credits, but the producers liked the look of them so much that they were kept for the final cut of the film.
Kurgan's pseudonym, Victor Krueger, is actually an inside joke. Victor, of course, means winner. Krueger might falsely been seen as a variation on the German word, Krieger, which means warrior. So, Victor Krueger would mean, Winning Warrior. The actual meaning of Krueger is "someone who produces jugs/jars/pitchers/mugs"
In the Scottish festival scene, Ramirez shows MacLeod his sword, claiming it was made by his last father-in-law, Masamune. There was a real Masamune, Goro Masamune, who is renowned as the greatest swordsmith of the Tokugawa Shogunate era. Believed to have lived in the late 13th/early 14th century, his swords were the most cited in the Kyoho Meibutsu Cho, a Kyoho-era sword catalogue compiled by the Honami family of sword polishers and appraisers in 1714 on the orders of Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune.
Christopher Lambert did his own dubbing for the French language version.
The opening shot sweeping through the stadium was accomplished using a computerized system that held the camera on four wires. The system was invented by the inventor of the Steadicam stabilizing camera system, Garrett Brown.
Sean Connery would later reprise his role as Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez in Highlander II: The Quickening (1991). Other than James Bond, this is the only character that he has played in more than one film.
The Queen song "One Year of Love" (which can be heard in the background in the scene where Brenda meets Connor in the bar) was never released as a single in Europe or the United States, but was a hit in Japan. The 7" single was released as part of the Highlander marketing wave, and its label said it was from the forthcoming soundtrack album (which never surfaced). However, it was featured on Queen's 1986 studio album "A Kind of Magic".
Two of the main characters of the film have played the Mortal Kombat character Rayden. Clancy Brown provided Rayden's voice in Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1995), and Christopher Lambert played Lord Rayden in Mortal Kombat (1995) in the same year.
Marc Singer was the original choice for the role of Connor Macleod. But he turned it down due to scheduling conflicts. Mickey Rourke was also offered the role but turned it down.
The sword fight between MacLeod and Fasil was filmed in a London fruit market made to look like a parking garage. The producers had scheduled to film in England but couldn't film in a parking garage there because they had lower ceilings than American parking garages and could not convincingly be made to look like Madison Square Garden's garage.
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Kurt Russell was originally cast as Connor Macleod. But he pulled out of the project at the insistence of his girlfriend Goldie Hawn.
The wrestling match in the beginning scene was between the legendary AWA (American Wrestling Association) tag teams of "The Fabulous Freebirds", consisting of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, and the team of Greg Gagne (son of AWA owner Verne Gagne), Jumping Jim Brunzell (the same Brunzell of the WWF tag team The Killer Bees), and the Tonga Kid (also known as Tama of the WWF tag team The Islanders).
Virginia Madsen auditioned for the role of Heather MacLeod. She later appeared as Connor's love interest in Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).
Although Queen's songs have become closely associated with the franchise, they were not actually the original choice. Before Queen decided to do the soundtrack for the film, David Bowie, Sting and Duran Duran were considered to do the soundtrack instead. British rock band Marillion, who had enjoyed a big success in the UK in 1985 with their "Misplaced Childhood" album, turned down an offer to record the soundtrack because they were busy on a world tour. Guitarist Steve Rothery later said in an interview this was "a really stupid thing for us to turn down".
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The final fight scene that takes place at the Silvercup studios (the sign is used in a few shots) used to be a bakery for the Silvercup bread company that had gone out of business a few years earlier.
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The producers tested dozens of actors for the role of Garfield, the cop who berates MacLeod in the police station. The actors were Americans living in England, and the producers decided not to cast any of them because they had developed English accents after living in England for several years.
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Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez was born in 896 BC.
Brooke Adams was the original choice for the role of Brenda Wyatt. Rosanna Arquette, Jennifer Beals, Tanya Roberts and Elisabeth Brooks were considered for the role of Brenda. Roberts turned down the role to star in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985).
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According to Hulk Hogan, he was offered the part of Connor MacLeod, but he turned it down in order to focus on his wrestling career.
Some scenes were deleted from the movie and ended up being lost forever when they were destroyed in warehouse fire. One of these was a duel sequence that introduced an Asian immortal named Yung Dol Kim. In this deleted scene Kim was working as a night security guard in a New York City office building at the time of the Gathering, where he was challenged by the Kurgan. Kim fights Japanese two-sword style. During the fight Kim surrenders wearying of Immortal life and is willing to suicide himself. The Kurgan takes his head and the body explodes out of the 40th floor of the building. In the continuity of the film, the Kurgan's duel with Kim takes place before his duel with Kastagir. A few stills from the sequence, some in color and others in black & white, did survive and were later used in the collectible card game based on Highlander for cards featuring the Kim character. Other deleted and lost scenes are flashback where Connor meets with Thomas Jefferson, bar scene when Connor and Kastagir go out for a drink and are partying in bar where they meet Det. Walter Bedsoe who ends up drinking and partying with them, this scene also expanded more on Kastagir and Connor's relationship and revealed that they met during the American Revolutionary War. There was also a scene in which Connor shows Brenda his katana, the sword she was so intrigued about after finding metal shards from it in the parking garage, after their sex scene.
The character of Sunda Kastagir was originally written to be an Asian Immortal (Mongolian or Chinese) in the original script.
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According to Roxanne Hart, Brooke Adams was initially considered for the part of Brenda Wyatt.
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Catherine Mary Stewart was originally cast as Brenda Wyatt. But for unknown reasons, she was dropped out.
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Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, Sting , Mel Gibson and Patrick Swayze were all considered for the role of Connor Macleod.
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Rutger Hauer and Nick Nolte were considered for the role of The Kurgan.
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Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood, Malcolm McDowell, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine and Peter O'Toole were considered for the role of Ramirez before Sean Connery was cast.
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Sigourney Weaver, Glenn Close, Lorraine Bracco, Sean Young, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Perkins, Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw and Diane Lane were considered for the role Brenda Wyatt. Lane would later on marry Christopher Lambert years later.
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Sion Tudor Owen reports that he filmed his scene in two days.
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As well as his band being offered the soundtrack, Scottish singer Fish (then lead singer of Marillion) was also offered a part in the film and even grew a beard especially for the character, but touring dates with the band conflicted with the filming schedule. Fish revealed this in an interview with rock journalist Mick Wall, which is published in his book "Appetite for Destruction - Legendary Encounters with Mick Wall".
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While filming in the Scottish Highlands, the productions medical team were kept busy in the afternoons. After a liquid lunch many of the hundreds of local Scottish extras got a bit too enthusiastic during the clan battles with many minor injuries resulting.
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After filming the scene where The Kurgan confronts MacLeod in the church, Clancy Brown actually apologized to the priest and nuns there for his character's dialogue for fear that he had offended them.
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The novelization delves into The Kurgan's backstory: His first death occurred in 970 BC, when his drunken father crushed his head with a rock. Upon returning to life, the Kurgan proceeded to force his father to swallow a searing hot stone, killing him. He then went off to join a group of bandits that raided caravans. He eventually encountered another Immortal, "The Bedouin," who revealed to him his true nature, and who became the only person who could be labeled as his friend. During the intervening centuries, the Kurgan took an incalculable number of Immortal heads. Circa 410 AD, the Kurgan joined the Vandals, Goths, and Visigoths in attacking Rome and other Roman settlements, also fighting with the Goths against the Huns. He would then later ally himself with the Huns directly, fighting alongside Attila, around the year 453. From the fifth to thirteenth centuries, the Kurgan would spread terror with the Tatars of the Gobi and ancient Turkey, as well as with Viking raiders and the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan.
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According to Russell Mulcahy, when they first shot the scene of The Kurgan bursting through a door to cut the table in half, Clancy Brown instead ran in and cut through the candelabra, nearly decapitating Sean Connery. As a result, Connery stormed off the set. Later, Connery returned and Brown apologized, saying he was very nervous.
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According to Russell Mulcahy, the crew felt that Clancy Brown had become The Kurgan and some refused to go near him.
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When the film was in it's early development, Scott Glenn and Roy Scheider were the top choices for the role of The Kurgan.
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According to the scene where a computer compares the signatures on the deeds to MacLeod's house, his previous aliases before Russell Nash were Adrien Montague, Jacques Lefebert, Alfred Nicholson and Rupert Wallingford.
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This was originally a stand alone movie. However, the sequel Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) came about, because this was so beloved.
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The low flying aircraft in the final scene was a Sepecat Jaguar T2 belonging to 226 Operational Conversion Unit based at R.A.F. Lossiemouth. This unit is incorrectly listed in the final credits as the "Jaguar Fighter Wing, R.A.F. Lossiemouth." The Jaguar is actually a ground attack aircraft and not a fighter. 226 O.C.U. was a training unit used to train pilots to fly the Jaguar.
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The filmmakers were shocked to find out after signing a contract for Christopher Lambert to play Connor MacLeod that he spoke absolutely no English.
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Many of the extras in the battle scenes were students from Glasgow University, who were recruited because of their long hair.
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Clancy Brown almost turned down the role of The Kurgan (which required prosthetics) because he had experienced an allergic reaction to prosthetic glue. Brown had just finished portraying Frankenstein's monster in The Bride (1985) and production had to be shut down for three weeks, his allergy was so severe.
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The film takes place in 1536, 1541, the late 16th Century, 1783, the 1940s and 1985.
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Filming began in April 1985 and ended on August 30th, 1985.
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Connor MacLeod was born in 1518.
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William Hurt, Scott Glenn, Peter Weller, David Keith, Sam Shepard and Ed Harris were also considered for the role of Conner Macleod.
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Director of photography Arthur Smith actually filmed the scene in which fish fall out of MacLeod's kilt, but Christopher Lambert's kilt proved to be too short. Smith said, "I stuck part of a drain pipe above Chris's kilt out of camera range, and fed live trout down the tube." Smith also had difficulties shooting MacLeod meeting the Kurgan. It was raining that day and the crew had to use umbrellas and hair dryers to prevent water from hitting the camera lenses and appearing on the film. Smith also remembered that Lambert, who was near-sighted, "kept forgetting to take off his glasses as he came over the hill on his horse."
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Clancy Brown improvised the line in which he poignantly addresses the sparse congregation and clergy in the Church, "I have something to say! It's better to burn out... Than to fade away!!!"
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The cast had such a good time doing the movie, they filmed additional scenes for free, detailing Macleod's relationship with his assistant.
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According to Clancy Brown, the original script contained more dialogue reflecting on the Immortals' long lives.
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According to Russell Mulcahy, Sean Connery was fond of getting the producers and director together to discuss in detail what he thought the crew was doing incorrectly. "He can't stand inefficiency of any kind," Mulcahy said. "He would group us together and air his views on why so and so wasn't doing his job correctly. This was free advice-very expensive, I might add-that none of us needed. When he saw the rushes though, things changed."
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Peter Diamond, who played Iman Fasil, was also the stunt coordinator.
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Russell Mulcahy Mulcahy said that filming the stag "was a nightmare." Because at the time of filming all stags had lost their horns, it was decided to glue on antlers. A veterinarian put the animal to sleep, the horns were glued on and then, they had to wait for it to awaken; once it did, all the deer wanted to do was shake off the antlers. During filming, the stag ran away and never came back. It was found later, 25 miles away and without the horns. Some of the stag scene (standing in water) is National Geographic stock footage.
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A special light--next to the camera lens--made Christopher Lambert's eyes sparkle on film.
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Russell Mulcahy said that the biggest dilemma of the film was "the visualization of the prize." He said, "Not knowing what to do, we did what we did." A combination of lighting effects and animation was used; the "electricity" seen was to cover the wires holding up Lambert, and the animation represented "Demonic souls of the past and all the immortals who have gone before him."
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In preparation for the film, Christopher Lambert trained extensively with Sword Master and Canadian Olympic champion, Bobby Anderson.
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Christopher Lambert spent six weeks working on his English and Russell Mulcahy felt the film worked fine because of his line, "I come from so many places."
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Russell Nash was born and died on October 22, 1945.
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The film was originally going to take place in Washington D.C. rather than New York City.
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In the Spanish dubbed version of the film Ramirez's surnames are swapped, thus ending with the character being called Juan Ramirez Sanchez-Villalobos instead of Juan Sanchez-Villalobos Ramirez.
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Gregory Widen wrote the script as a class assignment while he was an undergraduate in the screenwriting program at UCLA. Widen sold the script for US$200,000.
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The original title was Shadow Clan.
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The entire budget was put up by Thorn EMI.
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The dragon sword that Connor uses, originally had no dragon head on it, but was added on in pre-production. It was put on with a big screw that you can see clearly in the scene where he's reaching for it under the car in the first fight.
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Clancy Brown originally wanted The Kurgan to be dressed in a suit and bowler hat.
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The view of New York from MacLeod's apartment is actually photos of New York, blown up and cut into shapes that fit the windows.
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Russell Mulcahy donated Sean Connery's peacock feathered costume to the London Film Museum.
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According to Russell Mulcahy, the battle scenes were filmed in all kinds of crazy weather including snow and horizontal rain. He spoke highly of the extras, all of whom were locals and wanted "nothing but a good bottle of scotch at the end of the day." The director marvelled that they would even sleep outside, drink half the night and show up for work in the morning.
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The first battle scene was filmed at a tourist attraction, Eilean Donan Castle; the parking lot was covered over with dirt and grass and the entire village constructed.
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Russell Mulcahy filmed the movie using music video techniques including fast cutting and pacy music.
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Detective Bedsoe who appeared in a deleted bar scene is actually mentioned by an investigating officer in Highlander 3 The Sourcerer. He remembers Russell Nash and says "but I ain't Lieutenant Bedsoe.."
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When Connor is confronted in the village tavern by his cousin he states they have 'been kinsmen for 20 years' ...If Connor was born in 1518 and this conversation was in 1536 then Connor is only 18 years old.
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The script came from Gregory Widen's senior thesis at UCLA entitled "Dark Knight."
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Director Cameo 

Russell Mulcahy:  The first person hit by the Kurgan's car when he's driving on the sidewalk.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Among the many ancient artifacts in MacLeod's storeroom is Ramirez's vest and hat.
In the scenes following Connor taking the Kurgan's head, director Russell Mulcahy had originally envisioned an animated dragon with the Kurgan's skull battle helmet emerging from the Kurgan's decapitated body and challenging Connor again. Only after Connor had defeated this Ghost-Dragon would he have received the final quickening and subsequent Prize. This idea was eventually cut due to budget restraints.
According to the director's commentary, the animated lightning on Connor's shoulders when he receives The Prize was actually supposed to disguise the wires - ironically, this may have just drawn more attention to them.
Ramirez was born in 896 BC in Egypt, during the XXII Dynasty. When Ramirez meets McLeod in 1541 AD he is 2437 years old, and he was 357 years old when Masumune, Ramirez's father-in-law, made the katana sword for him in tribute to Sakiko, Ramirez's wife and Masumune's daughter.
The scene in the alley where the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) beheads Kastagir (Hugh Quarshie) and then stabs the gun nut, followed by the explosion, was filmed in an alley in England even though it was set in New York. The director was reluctant to set off the explosion in the alley because the windows were full of Victorian glass, but he was given permission to do so because that particular site was going to be destroyed in a few months anyway.
According to the DVD commentary, the film's climax was originally intended to take place on top of the Statue of Liberty. This was then changed to an amusement park, and finally changed to the rooftop of the Silvercup Studios building.
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MacLeod was born in Scotland in 1518, acquiring his immortality in 1536 when he was 18 years old, hurt in battle by The Kurgan. At the time of the final Quickening, MacLeod is 467 years old.
During the final fight sequence between McLeod and Kurgan on the roof of the Silvercup Studios building, cables can be seen in the foreground pulling the studio's neon sign down - in post-production they have bolts of electricity coursing down them to hide them. After filming had been completed, the production discovered that they had done so much damage to both the set and the actual roof of the Silvercup studios building as to make re-takes impossible.
Christopher Lambert was considered to play Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987) a year after this film but Mel Gibson got the part. Michael Kamen who made the music of this film also made the music on all 4 Lethal Weapon movies.
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Kurt Russell and Scott Glenn who were considered to play Connor Macleod later worked together 5 years later on Backdraft (1991), also written by Gregory Widen.
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Kurt Russell was originally cast as Connor MacLeod, but he later turned down the role after his girlfriend Goldie Hawn advised him to turn it down.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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