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Michael Collins (1996) Poster

Trivia

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Liam Neeson was 43 when this movie was made. The real-life Michael Collins was 31 when he died.
Despite containing several brutal scenes of violence, the film was given a very lenient 'PG' rating in Ireland mainly because of its historical context. Sheamus Smith, the censor, issued a press statement defending his decision, claiming the film was a landmark in Irish cinema and that he believed "because of the subject matter, parents should have the option of making their own decision as to whether their children should see the film or not." The quad poster used to advertise the film in Ireland carried a warning message that read, "WARNING TO PARENTS AND GUARDIANS: This film includes scenes depicting explicit cruelty and violence along with crude language. It is advised that children under 12 years be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian." The film subsequently became the second most successful movie ever released in Ireland.
After he had delivered a hit in the form of Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) to its studio, David Geffen asked Neil Jordan what he would like to make next. Jordan unearthed a script he had written twelve years earlier - Michael Collins (1996).
It is considered likely that Collins was killed by a dum-dum bullet fired by Denis "Sonny" O'Neill, an anti-Treaty IRA man who died in 1950.
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Brendan Gleeson, who plays Liam Tobin in the film, played Collins in The Treaty (1991). Liam Neeson consulted with Gleeson during pre-production and on set on portraying the character.
Michael Collins adopted guerrilla tactics used by the Boers during the Second Boer War (1899-1902).
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The character Ned Broy, played by Stephen Rea in the film, is in fact a composite of the historical figures Ned Broy, who was a double agent in the police, and Dick McKee, who was Commandant of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA, and hence a central figure in planning intelligence operations with Collins. Broy survived the war, but McKee was captured the night before the attack on British agents and shot, reputedly while attempting to escape. Broy, only a Sergeant in the Dublin Metropolitan Police would be rewarded by being made head of the Irish Free State's new police national force, the Garda. Ironically, he would go to great lengths to encourage ex-Royal Irish Constabulary officers to join the new force, giving them preference in recruitment and absorb the Dublin Metropolitan Police as a whole into the new organization.
Gabriel Byrne was attached to the role of Michael Collins when Michael Cimino was set to direct.
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Tom Cruise was offered the Jonathan Rhys Meyers cameo of the assassin. Cruise would later co-star in Mission: Impossible III (2006) with Rhys Meyers.
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Mary-Louise Parker was at the point of being signed for the part of Kitty, when Neil Jordan got a call from Julia Roberts, expressing interest in the role.
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When the film was in production, the IRA exploded a bomb in London's Canary Wharf, thereby ending a ceasefire in the Northern Ireland conflict.
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John Turturro turned down the role of Eamon de Valera.
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Recently released documents show that Michael Collins used former Black and Tans against the IRA during the Battle of Dublin (June 28-July 5, 1922). It is unclear whether Collins requested these reinforcements, or whether the UK government provided them because they did not believe the National Army was capable of driving the anti-Treaty forces out of Dublin.
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The final piece of score by Elliot Goldenthal in the film, "Funeral/Coda," is actually Goldenthal's rejected finale for Heat (1995), which director Michael Mann replaced with an existing Moby piece.
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Bray Wanderers' Carlisle Grounds substituted for 1920's Croke Park, at a cost of approximately one million Irish pounds to renovate the ground accordingly.
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Matt Dillon was originally up for the part of Harry Boland, later taken by Aidan Quinn.
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This was originally going to be a Kevin Costner feature.
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In the mid '60s, Richard Harris and Thunderball (1965) Producer Kevin McClory, planned a Michael Collins biopic.
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John Boorman's short segment from Lumière et compagnie (1995) was filmed on the set of this movie (most precisely the location used for the Easter Rising sequence), and features Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, and Alan Rickman.
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The film takes place from 1916 to 1922.
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Many of the Black and Tans served with the 10th Irish Division during World War I.
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The Treaty ports were returned to Ireland in 1938, ensuring the country could remain neutral throughout World War II.
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Robert Redford spent a short time in Dublin in the early '80s doing research on an unrealized Michael Collins biopic.
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Alan Rickman, Brendan Gleeson, and Ian Hart all appeared in many films of the Harry Potter franchise.
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The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Julia Roberts; and two Oscar nominees: Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The first DVD release was flippable, and had two sides, much like an old LP (similar to the first DVD release of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)). In one of the first scenes, Michael Collins fought along with the rebellion against the military. After you flip over the DVD, the first scene shown is Collins now on the military side fighting against the newly formed rebellion. The side-change of the DVD dramatically marks the change of Collins' position.
This film did not show Eamon De Valera ordering the assassination of Collins, but it did insinuate that he ordered it. This has been a highly contentious issue in Ireland ever since. Although De Valera was widely believed to have ordered the murder, he always denied it.
The film, like most films of historical characters, used the Hollywood version of events. Harry Boland was shot dead leaving a hotel in Skerries, North Dublin, and not in the river.
It could be considered a plausible theory that the unnamed Jonathan Rhys Meyers character, represents the post-Free State founding, and later versions of, the "New" IRA method of using the gun in politics to get their way, replacing Michael Collins' more cerebral negotiations, with a gun as a last resort "original" IRA methodology.
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