Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war movie directed, produced and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. It was co-written by John Milius with narration written by Michael Herr. It starts Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, and Dennis Hopper. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts about Apocalypse Now.
1. The screenplay for Apocalypse Now, written by John Milius, adapts the story of Joseph Conrad’s novella “Heart of Darkness,” changing its setting from late 19th century Congo to the Vietnam War.
2. Apocalypse Now was honored with the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.
3. The initial reviews were mixed; while Storaro’s cinematography was widely acclaimed, several critics found Coppola’s handling of the story’s major themes to be anticlimactic and intellectually disappointing.
4. In 2000, Apocalypse Now was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
5. Laurence Fishburne was 14 when production began in 1976. He lied about his age.
6. There are no opening credits or titles. The title appears late in the movie, as graffiti which reads, “Our motto: Apocalypse Now.” The movie couldn’t be copyrighted as “Apocalypse Now” unless the title was seen in the movie.
7. The shooting, which was originally schedule for 6 weeks, ended up taking 16 months.
8. Francis Ford Coppola shot nearly 200 hours of footage.
9. The canteen scene with Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore and the wounded Viet Cong, is based on an actual wounded Viet Cong fighter who fought while keeping his entrails strapped to his belly in an enameled cooking pot. The incident was documented by the photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths. The real life U.S. soldier was quoted as saying, “Any soldier who can fight for three days with his insides out can drink from my canteen any time!”
10. Francis Ford Coppola lost 100 pounds while filming Apocalypse Now.
11. Substance abuse was rampant among the cast and crew. Dennis Hopper got a teenage Laurence Fishburne addicted to heroin.
12. Robert Duvall’s iconic Oscar-nominated performance as Colonel Kilgore amounts to just 11 minutes of screentime.
13. Most of the dialogue was added in post-production. Extraneous noise, such as helicopters, left many scenes with unusable audio.
14. Francis Ford Coppola invested $7 million dollars of his own money in the movie after it went severely over budget. He eventually had to mortgage his house and Napa Valley winery to finish the movie.
15. While in pre-production, Francis Ford Coppola consulted his friend and mentor Roger Corman for advice about shooting in the Philippines. Corman’s advice was, “Don’t go.”
16. Francis Ford Coppola threatened suicide several times during the making of Apocalypse Now.
17. Marlon Brando was paid $1 million in advance. He threatened to quit and keep the advance. Francis Ford Coppola told his agent that he didn’t care, and if they couldn’t get Brando, they would try Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, and then Al Pacino. Brando eventually turned up late, drunk, and about 88 pounds overweight. He also admitted that he hadn’t read the script or “Heart of Darkness.”
18. Sam Bottoms was on speed, LSD and marijuana during the shooting of parts of the movie.
19. Marlon Brando got Francis Ford Coppola so mad that Coppola turned over the filming of Brando’s scenes to Assistant Director Jerry Ziesmer.
20. Francis Ford Coppola spent several days reading Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” out loud to Marlon Brando on the set.
21. Clint Eastwood turned down the role of Captain Willard because he felt that the movie was too dark.
22. Nick Nolte has said that he had never wanted a role more than that of Captain Willard, and was very disappointed when Francis Ford Coppola picked Harvey Keitel for the part. When Keitel was fired, Nolte thought the role was his, but Martin Sheen eventually won the role.
23. Martin Sheen had a heart attack during the filming and some shots of Willard’s back are of doubles, including Sheen’s brother, Joe Estevez, who was flown out specially.
24. The letter Martin Sheen is reading int he deleted scene “Letter from Mrs. Kurtz” is actually a poem by Jim Morrison.
25. When asked what he thought about Marlon Brando’s $3.5 million dollar fee after a New York City screening of the movie, Tennessee Williams reportedly said, “Gee, I don’t know. I think they paid him by the pound.”
26. Apocalypse Now is the first movie to use the 70mm Dolby Stereo surround sound system.
27. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos agreed to let his Army supply the helicopters and pilots used in the movie. However, the Marcos government was also fighting rebels in the area where filming was taking place, and sometimes withdrew the helicopters and pilots when they were needed in battle, replacing them with pilots who were not familiar with the filming, which cause some problems.
28. After Martin Sheen recovered from his heart attack, there was concern that he looked too healthy to be the war-weary cynical assassin that Willard was towards the end of his mission.
29. The famous line, “terminate… with extreme prejudice,” is spoken by Assistant Director Jerry Ziesmer.
30. A large typhoon destroyed multiple sets during filming, causing a delay of several months.