How Old Was Mel Gibson In Braveheart?

When watching Braveheart, it is easy to wonder how old Mel Gibson was compared to the young rebel character he was portraying on screen. In 1995, Mel Gibson donned a kilt to bring the Scottish patriot William Wallace to life in the historical epic that Gibson also directed. Braveheart got nominated for ten academy awards and took home five, including Best Picture and Best Director upon release. The film was praised for generating huge interest regarding Scotland and Scottish history, setting up future success for projects like Outlander, but was also criticized for some of the creative liberties and inaccuracies it took with the historical period of the time.

William Wallace was a Scottish hero who rebelled against the English as the film depicts, but Wallace was not given the nickname “Braveheart.” That title instead belonged to Robert the Bruce, who himself was a national hero and not the villain who betrayed Wallace as the movie paints him out to be. Furthermore, the real-life Princess Isabella also would have been 13 when the true-life-inspired events of Braveheart happened – much younger than 29-year-old Sophie Marceau who ended up playing her in the movie.

But Marceau wasn’t the only actor cast with an age much greater than her real-life counterpart, as Mad Max star Mel Gibson was 38 at the time of filming Braveheart. This is significantly older than the actual William Wallace, who was supposed to be in his early 20s during the events depicted in the movie. A credit to Gibson’s acting ability is that the role which now has defined his career is one that he almost did not play thanks to the age gap between Gibson and the historical figure of Wallace.

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Mel Gibson initially did not want to play the part of Wallace, seeing the age gap as too between the two men big to accurately represent the character. He was already on board as director of the film and wanted a younger actor to play Wallace, even considering Brad Pitt for the role (despite Brad Pitt himself being near retirement now). However, when Gibson tried to cast a younger actor for the role, the executives at Paramount Pictures gave him an ultimatum, saying they would only finance Braveheart if he starred as the lead.

Mel Gibson’s decision to ultimately take the role of William Wallace was one that paid off incredibly, as it is now the defining performance of the actor’s career. Gibson himself doesn’t mind the criticisms of historical inaccuracy in the film, as he sees a movie’s first responsibility to entertain, which Braveheart continues to do. Gibson’s commitment to his performance also guarantees that the legend of William Wallace will be widely and fondly remembered for a long time despite the age gap between Gibson and the legendary Scottish historical figure.

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