1. The film is based on a novel
The Revenant is in part based on the book of the same by American author Michael Punke. The book, which was released in 2002, was based as much on the author’s own childhood growing up in the great outdoors as it was the life of frontiersman Hugh Glass.
2. Which itself was based on a true story
Amazing as it might seem the story of Hugh Glass, who is played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie, is actually based on real life. Glass, who lived from 1783 to 1833, is famed for his feats of survival after being attacked by a bear and dragging himself 200 miles to safety.
3. The Revenant isn’t the first time Glass’s story has been made into a movie
The Revenant wasn’t the first time that Glass’s incredible true-life tale was adapted for the silver screen. That honour goes to the 1971 film Man in the Wilderness, which starred Richard Harris and John Huston.
4. Development originally started in 2001
After purchasing the rights to Michael Punke’s novel in August 2001 it took producer Akiva Goldsman almost 15 years to get the move into the multiplex.
5. Leonard DiCaprio wasn’t originally meant to star in it
It’s almost impossible to imagine now, but Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t the first choice to take on the role of Hugh Glass. Indeed, Christian Bale and Samuel L. Jackson were among the other actors considered for the role before The Revenant found its leading man.
6. Nor was Tom Hardy
In fact the producers wanted Sean Penn to play the role of John Fitzgerald, however the actor was forced to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts.
7. And Alejandro G. Iñárritu wasn’t meant to direct
Iñárritu only got the directing gig in 2011. Before he took over the reins, Korean director Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy) and Australia helmer John Hillcoat (The Road) had been attached to the project.
8. Leo got the gig in part because of his beliefs
Leonardo DiCaprio eventually landed the leading role in Iñárritu’s movie in part due to his environmental beliefs.
9. The filmmakers created their own avalanche
The avalanche you’ll see in the movie wasn’t actually a natural phenomenon, nor was it computer generated. Instead the crew used aeroplanes to drop explosives onto a mountain to trigger the epic event.
10. And they had to move locations as Canada’s weather wasn’t cold enough
Yes amazing as it may sound, the Great White North wasn’t cold enough for the purposes of shooting the film. Due to unseasonably warm temperatures and a distinct lack of snow, production had to be moved to Argentina to finish filming.
11. Sometimes however it got so cold the cameras wouldn’t work
The cast and crew had to endure temperatures as low as -40°C during production. In fact the set was so cold that the cameras stopped working at one point.
12. The film was shot using natural light
Oscar-Winning cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki (Birdman) decided to shoot the entire movie using only natural light or light sources that would have been available in the early 19th Century. No, really!
13. The cast and crew regularly had to get up before sunrise
Impossibly early starts were common for the cast and the crew who sometimes had to trek for hours just to reach their set. As a result the window of opportunity to capture certain shots was incredibly short, leading to frequent delays to the filming schedule.
14. It took 9 months to shoot
That’s a long time to be spent out in the cold.
15. In fact it took so long that Tom Hardy had to drop out of Suicide Squad
Hardy had originally meant to play the role of Rick Flagg in Warner Brothers’ Suicide Squad. However due to production overrunning on The Revenant, Hardy’s role was eventually handed to Joel Kinnaman.
16. All of Leonardo DiCaprio’s bodily fluids in the film are his own (well apart from the blood)
As yucky as it may sound all of the vomit and phlegm you’ll see in the film is actually DiCaprio’s own. Ewwww.
17. In fact Leo got seriously sick on set
With its exposed locations and freezing temperatures, hyperthermia was a very real danger on the set of the film as Leo and his fellow cast members were plunged into freezing water and icy conditions on an almost daily basis.
18. He also ate raw bison liver
DiCaprio even forewent his vegetarianism to eat raw Bison liver just as Hugh Glass had done. Talk about method acting.
19. He didn't sleep in a horse carcass though
Even though DiCaprio described the film as one of the hardest things he’s ever done, one of those moments didn’t involve sleeping in an actual animal carcass despite rumours to the contrary.
20. Or fight a real bear
THAT bear scene has been widely praised in the industry, and for good reason. The VFX teams spent months meticulously crafting every aspect of the animal, even researching actual bear attacks to ensure that the sequence was as accurate as possible.
21. He did however start competitive axe throwing
It turns out that Leonardo DiCaprio was a pretty good outdoorsman even before he started work on The Revenant. After first learning the art of axe throwing during production of Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, DiCaprio decided to take up the sport competitively during production of The Revenant.
22. It’s no wonder then that he won an Oscar
Talk about going method! But at the sixth time of asking DiCaprio won a richly deserved Best Actor Oscar for his role at the 2016 Academy Awards.
23. Tom Hardy got into a fight with the director
The production on the movie was so intense that Tom Hardy even got into an altercation with Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Concerned that the director was pushing the cast and the crew beyond their limits Hardy and Iñárritu got into a scuffle on set, which ended with the actor putting his boss into a chokehold.
24. And the crew thought it was funny
The cast and crew clearly saw the lighter side of the confrontation however, as Hardy had a set of T-shirts made up depicting their on set throw down.
25. The film went way over budget
Due to delays and the intense nature of the shoot The Revenant’s budget soared to some $165 million bucks, almost twice its original budget. However after taking a $533 million sized bite out of the box office and landing a gaggle of gongs, we doubt the bean counters are that bothered.
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