25 years since its release, here are 25 things you didn't know about the movie Michael Collins 1 year ago

25 years since its release, here are 25 things you didn't know about the movie Michael Collins

Chicago Town

Yep, it has been a full quarter of a century since the movie arrived in cinemas.

First given its proper cinematic release on 11 October 1996, it has been 25 years since Neil Jordan's epic biopic Micheal Collins was released.


To celebrate the anniversary, here are 25 things you might not have known about the movie.

1. Following the huge commercial success of Interview With A Vampire in 1994, director Neil Jordan was essentially given carte blanche on what he wanted to make next by Hollywood producers. He dug out his script for Michael Collins, which he reportedly had written 12 years earlier.

2. Liam Neeson was 43 years old when he made this movie. Michael Collins was 31 years old when he died.

3. Five years ago, ahead of the movie's 20-year anniversary, JOE spoke to Neil Jordan about the making of the movie. You can check out that interview in full right here:


4. Neil Jordan was not the first person to attempt to make a biopic of Michael Collins. Michael Camino (the Oscar-winning director of The Deer Hunter) had initially set up the project in the '80s.

5. His leading man for the telling of Michael Collins' life story? Gabriel Byrne.

6. There were a lot of alternative casting choices for Jordan's take, too. Initially the role of Éamon de Valera was offered to John Turturro (The Big Lebowski, The Night Of) before being taken on by Alan Rickman.


7. Aidan Quinn did great work in the role of Harry Boland, but he was not the only option for the part, with both Matt Dillon (There's Something About Mary) and Adam Baldwin (Independence Day) reported to have been in discussions.

8. Mary Louise Parker (RED) was all-but-cast in the role of Kitty Kiernan, but the story goes that Julia Roberts rang Neil Jordan directly, expressing an interest in the role. The rest was history...

9. Rumour has it that Neil Jordan offered the cameo of the man who assassinated Michael Collins to none other than Tom Cruise, whom he had just worked with on Interview With A Vampire, but scheduling conflicts got in the way (Tom was making both Jerry Maguire AND Mission: Impossible at the time). So the role went to Jonathan Rhys Myers.

10. Another actor (and director!) who almost made the movie was none other than Kevin Costner, who JOE spoke to about the missed adaptation right here:


11. One million Irish punts were spent on converting the Bray Wanderers' football stadium Carlisle Grounds so that it looked more like Croke Park circa the 1920s.

12. Without a studio big enough in Ireland to house it at the time of filming, 1.5 million Irish punts were spent on creating the exterior of the GPO at the then-derelict Richmond Asylum (now the site of TUD Grangegorman). By complete coincidence, the same architect who designed the GPO exterior also designed the exterior of the Richmond Asylum.

13. Aengus O'Malley, who is the great-grandnephew of Michael Collins, played the role of a student filmed in Marsh's Library.

14. The movie was criticised at the time for a series of historical inaccuracies, which Jordan defended by explaining that some artistic licence is needed when distilling years of events down to a two-hour movie. The biggest difference revolves around the death of Harry Boland, who did not die in a river like it was depicted in the movie, but was actually shot leaving a hotel in Skerries during the Battle of Dublin.


15. Elliot's Goldenthal's closing credits music, titled 'Funeral/Coda', was originally written for Michael Mann's 1995 movie Heat, but Mann decided to go with a Moby song for his movie instead.

Clip via Liradrin

16. The movie was originally due for release in June 1996, but due to the breakdown of the IRA ceasefire, it was pushed back to November of that year, with conversations behind the scenes involving producers pushing the ending of the movie to be changed to focus more on the love story between Collins and Kiernan and less on the breakdown of the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

17. Despite receiving a 15s in the UK and being rated R in the US, the movie was given a PG rating in Ireland. Sheamus Smith, the Irish film censor at the time, explained his decision:

"Because of the historical significance of this film, many parents may wish to make their own decision as to whether or not their children should see it," he said.

"For this reason the film censor has decided to grant a parental guidance (PG) certificate to the film Michael Collins. The certificate is accompanied by a warning to parents and guardians that the film includes scenes depicting explicit cruelty and violence along with some crude language not usually associated with the parental guidance classification. The film censor advises that in all cases, children under the age of 12 years should be accompanied by a parent or guardian."

18. Premiering at the Venice Film Festival that year, the movie won Best Actor (for Neeson) and The Golden Lion (the equivalent of Best Picture), making it a major Oscar frontrunner.

19. That never came to pass however, as the movie was nominated for two awards - Best Cinematography and Best Score - and won neither of them. The Best Picture nominees that year were The English Patient (which won), Jerry Maguire, Fargo, Secret & Lies and Shine.

20. Upon release in Ireland, it quickly became the biggest box office hit of all time here, and kept that title until the release of Titanic in 1998. By 2015, it had slipped out of the top ten box office hits of all time here.

21. Despite doing so well in Ireland, the $25 million production (not including promotion and advertising) made only $27.5 million worldwide.

22. Holding a decent score of 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, not all critics enjoyed the finished product, with a one-star review from New Republic stating: "For me, the execution of the picture is so weak, so imitative, so facile that it makes all the thematic discussion seem idle."

23. Upon the DVD release, the movie was a rare example of a "flip-disc", in which you would need to eject the movie, flip it, insert again and play it. The first side starts with Collins fighting alongside the rebellion against the military. On the flip side, the first scene shown is Collins now on the military side fighting against the newly formed rebellion. The flip literally shows Collins flipping sides.

24. At the time of writing, Michael Collins is unavailable on any streaming service in Ireland, but is available to rent or buy on PVOD platforms such as Apple TV, Google Play, Sky Store and Rakuten TV.

25. We previously chatted to Stephen Rea about the movie's wrap party, which you can check out right here:

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