The Patriot 2

FOOLS' PARADISE

THE MAKING OF "THE PATRIOT" (2)

The Making of "The Patriot"
(7 Thrilling Pages)

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At The Movies


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Thursday September 28th 1999, 6:30 AM
   I am in the wrong cow pasture. Valet Number 1, whose name is Robert, and I have just discovered this after 45 minutes of wandering around the tents and trailers wondering where everyone is. It is cold. We're supposed to sign in somewhere, but there's nobody there to sign in with. We go in search of our costumes and at last find someone who tells us they're not there. Finally, we stumble upon a man with a radio and introduce ourselves. He wants to know what the heck we're doing there. Armed with a new map with directions to somewhere marked "Fort Carolina" and an admonishment to get moving, we're on the road again in my truck winding through the backroads of South Carolina. At 9 AM we arrive at another circus of trucks and trailers.
   Here everything is different. We are eagerly awaited. We are ushered into a large van, where a nice lady hands us our costumes. An assistant director shows us to the trailer where we have a small changing room. On the way, he tells us the surprising reason behind the morning's confusion. We are special. Those idiots at the production office didn't realize just how special we were. They sent us to the place where all the regular extras change into their costumes, the kind of extras who merge into the general carnage of the battle scenes - not the kind of extras with silver buckles on their shoes.
   Actually, this turns out to be true. Because of the scenes we are in, we are the only extras who get to change with the stars. Our changing room (more of a closet, really) is next to their trailers. We will be sharing hair and make-up with Mel and the rest of them. In the "Hair" trailer a nice lady from Charleston slaps glue all over my head and a wig on top of that. Then we rush through make-up. We are late, and everyone is most anxious that we should not keep Roland waiting. Who's Roland?" I ask. This provokes gasps and incredulous stares. He's the director, as it turns out, but how the hell am I supposed to know that? Nobody tells me anything, except the way to the wrong cow pasture.

Jason Isaacs, the dastardly Colonel Tavington

Celebrate "The Patriot" with this great collectibleGLOW IN THE DARK NEON GAVIN SINCLAIR

   One of the Assistant Directors ushers us into a van and we are off to the set. This is in another cow pasture. We drive up a dirt road to a brick mansion on top of a small hill. It's flanked on one side by a wooden stockade and on the other by trucks and tents. As we approach, I see that the building only has three sides. The back consists of scaffolding. In the stockade, a lot of men in red coats are hanging around, leaning on muskets.
   We get off the bus and hurry into the stockade. We arrive just in time to stand around for an hour or so and then head back down the road for lunch.
   After lunch, it's back up to the stockade, and my first glimpse of the action. They are filming a scene in which Mel Gibson rides into the stockade, gets off his horse and has some harsh words to say to a British officer.
   I ask one of the redcoats what's going on. The officer, he tells me, is called Tavington and he's really, really nasty, although in real life he's a British actor, Jason Isaacs, and he's really, really nice. Mel Gibson is, of course, the good guy. As I watch, Tavington takes four or five steps towards Mel Gibson and, to my surprise, appears to be sinking into the ground. Surely the stockade is not built on quicksand! Suddenly, all becomes clear, the tallish Jason Isaacs is walking into a trench that brings him eye to eye with the smallish Gibson for an intense glaring-at- each-other session. Ah the magic of movies! Then it's back on to the horse for Mel and out through the gates of the stockade, followed after a moment or two by two huge great danes.

Just switch off your computer to see Valet Number 2 give another shining on-screen performance, this time on your monitor.
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