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Courage Under Fire (1996) Poster

Trivia

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In order to lose the required amount of weight for the present day scenes, Matt Damon went on a strict regimen of food deprivation and physical training. This caused his health to become so frail, that he was put on medical supervision for several months after the shoot. However, his efforts didn't go unnoticed: director Francis Ford Coppola was so impressed by Damon's display of method acting, that he offered him the leading role in The Rainmaker (1997). While making Good Will Hunting (1997), after regaining his healthy weight, Damon met Steven Spielberg (who was then casting Saving Private Ryan (1998)). Spielberg told Damon that he had loved his performance in "Courage Under Fire" and had wanted to hire him to play Private Ryan, but was afraid that Damon was too skinny. Once Spielberg saw Damon at his normal weight, he hired him for Ryan.
In an October 2009 interview, actor Bronson Pinchot said that Denzel Washington was verbally abusive to him and others on the set of Courage Under Fire (1996), for the sake of "staying in character."
Matt Damon lost forty pounds for his role in the movie.
The tanks are British Centurions, with sheet metal added to make them look like M1A1 Abrams tanks; they were shipped from Australia when the U.S. Department of Defense withdrew their cooperation.
Matt Damon not only went on an extreme diet, he would also run twelve miles a day, drinking four to six pots of coffee to muster up the energy. His extreme dieting went to the point where he had to had to wash his mouth every time his girlfriend kissed him, because he could taste what she had been eating. Director Edward Zwick got so scared by Damon's emaciated appearance that he ordered the actor to start eating again, but Damon refused. Unfortunately for him, as he was not an established star at the time, he had to do all of this under his own steam, without the help of a nutritionist. After filming was done, Damon was diagnosed with deregulated blood sugar, which required medication. It would take Damon a good two years to get his body back to normal.
When Denzel Washington was first approached with the script, his immediate thought was to contact Edward Zwick to direct. Washington had worked with Zwick on Glory (1989) to Oscar-winning effect.
In some of the background scenes in the training camp, cadets from Texas A&M University were used as extras.
To prepare for his part in the film, Denzel Washington met with two combat veterans from the Gulf War, to ask about their experiences there, and any particular memories that had stuck with them since the war.
The White House rose garden set was destroyed twice: once by a tornado, and once by a sandstorm.
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Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks were considered for the role of Nathan Serling.
The basic concept of the movie is borrowed from Rashômon (1950).
The unit portrayed in the movie, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Serling, is the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2nd ACR). The Regiment was comprised of heavy tanks (M1A1) and fighting vehicles (Bradly FV M3). The unit as such no longer exists. It is now known as the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Stryker) which fights as an infantry (non-tanks) unit.
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The patch on Denzel Washington shoulder is referring to the U.S. Army 2nd Cavalry. The motto in french "toujours prêt" means "Always Ready" and the fleur-de-lis is related to the fact that they fought in France during both World Wars.
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The Iraqi battle scenes were filmed at the Indian Cliffs Ranch, located just outside of El Paso, Texas. Many of the props were left there, and became a tourist attraction.
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Steve Zahn auditioned for the role of Specialist Ilario (Matt Damon's character).
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This was the first movie produced by Fox 2000 Pictures to be released in theatres.
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Denzel Washington visited with B 1-12 CAV at Fort Hood, to prepare for his role of Lieutenant Colonel Nate Serling. The dip he puts in, while giving his OPORD in the opening sequence, is a tribute to the time he spent with B 1-12.
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Matt Damon and Zeljko Ivanek also appeared in School ties (1992).
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In the scene where Denzel Washington's character is packing to begin his trip to investigate the Medal of Honor, there is a picture on the bedroom wall of the Watts Towers in Los Angels, CA. These towers were also the stage for the final climactic scene of another Denzel Washington movie, Ricochet (1991).
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Denzel Washington and Scott Glenn would work together again in Training Day (2001). They also played the same role in different versions of the same story; Glenn in Man on Fire (1987) and Washington in Man on Fire (2004).
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Matt Damon and Edward Zwick share the same birthday of October 8th.
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At least one of the Centurion-based M1A1 Abrams tank mock-ups, used during the 'Al-Bathra' battle scene in the film, was re-used in Cradle 2 the Grave (2003).
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Scott Glenn and Albert Hall also appeared in Apocalypse Now (1979).
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

When Lieutenant Colonel Serling meets Sergeant Monfriez for the first time, Monfriez is chastising a trainee soldier for leaving his comrades behind. It's ironic that a major aspect of the plot involves Monfriez doing just that to Captain Walden.

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