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Trivia / Platoon

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: Several of the actors wrote messages on their helmets worn throughout the movie. Charlie Sheen's helmet reads, "When I die, bury me upside-down, so the world can kiss my ass", while Johnny Depp's simply reads, "Sherilyn", a tribute to Sherilyn Fenn, whom Depp was dating at the time. Mark Moses (Lieutenant Wolfe) had on his helmet a drawing of MAD magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman with the phrase "What, me worry?" and, according to Tom Berenger, this caused Oliver Stone to laugh hysterically once during filming.
  • Banned in China: Banned in Vietnam for having the American soldiers destroy a village. Banned in Malaysia for its excessive profanity and violence.
  • California Doubling: The Philippines for Vietnam.
  • Cast the Expert: Director Oliver Stone and technical adviser Dale Dye are both Vietnam veterans.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
    • Oliver Stone wanted to cast Johnny Depp as Chris, but the studio felt he was too young and he got a smaller part. Ironically, Sheen is three years younger than Depp.
    • Willem Dafoe was considered for Sgt. Barnes and Rhah before being cast as Sgt. Grodin.
    • John Spencer was originally cast as Sergeant O'Neill, and John C. McGinley was originally offered the part of Tony. But Spencer dropped out, and Stone offered McGinley the larger role. Ivan Kane ended up playing Tony.
  • Deleted Scene: Here, complete with an alternate ending where Barnes lives.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: This was one of the first films where the actors had to go through basic training similar to the real military to get them into character and act like real soldiers. Dale Dye actually approached Oliver Stone with the idea after being unsatisfied with the depiction of soldiers in previous war films and trained them himself. The success eventually led to him becoming the go to professional for actors' boot camps.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Dale Dye's boot camp for the actors was incredibly stressful. Those who went through it came out of the experience exhausted and on edge, which helped them portray soldiers serving in a tense and ambiguous environment. Charlie Sheen, however, rebelled and refused to show that Dye's training and discipline was wearing him down, which further reinforced his portrayal of Chris Taylor as someone trying to hold onto his morals and dignity in a war that is stripping them away.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted. Charlie Sheen credits Keith David with saving his life during production. While shooting in an open-doored Huey gunship, the helicopter banked too hard and Sheen was thrown towards - and would have gone through - the open door. David grabbed him by the back and pulled him back in.
  • Hostility on the Set: Oliver Stone was very rough and abusive in his treatment of the actors during filming. According to John C. McGinley, everyone hated Stone for the entire duration of the shoot, but this was Stone's specific aim, in order to expose the cast to something resembling the horrors of war and get the most realistic performances. Most cast and crew members agree that Stone's behavior sometimes bordered on psychotic, from a combination of sleep deprivation, post-traumatic stress disorder and the intensity of the shoot itself. The editor claimed that one day, Stone yelled at him for taking away footage of a scene that they hadn't even shot yet. Johnny Depp recalled that during one particularly stressful scene, he was so intimidated by Stone's aggressive behavior that he came close to vomiting. Stone still insisted on a second take.
  • In Memoriam: The film is "Dedicated to the men who fought and died in the Vietnam War".
  • Orphaned Reference: Oliver Stone originally was looking for a Native American actor to play Sergeant Elias. When he failed to do so, he cast Willem Dafoe instead. Several scenes with Elias reflect Stone's original idea of the Native American spirit embodying Elias.
  • Playing Against Type: Oliver Stone intentionally cast Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe against type (Berenger, who played the ruthless, sadistic Sgt. Barnes, was mostly famous at that point for playing good guys, while Dafoe, who had primarily played villains up until then, played the heroic, compassionate Sgt. Elias). The casting worked, and both men received Oscar nominations for their work.
  • Star-Making Role: This is what basically launched Charlie Sheen's career, after a couple of memorable smaller roles. He lampoons his role in this movie in Hot Shots! Part Deux (along with his dad Martin Sheen for Apocalypse Now), "I loved you in Wall Street!" Keith David also found considerable success after this film, though he became more of a veteran of voice acting than screen acting.
  • Throw It In:
    • During the opening credits, Big Harold falls and rolls down a hill. Forest Whitaker claims it was a real, unintentional fall.
    • The scene where O'Neill offers to light Barnes's cigarette, his Zippo fails to ignite and Barnes just stares at him annoyed until he successfully lights it on the second try was a real flub due to the lighter failing to ignite. Oliver Stone used that take because Tom Berenger and John C. McGinley stayed in character and their actions subtly underlined their personalites; Barnes perturbed because a subordinate soldier failed him and O'Neill such a brown nosing sycophant that he immediately tries again to get back into Barnes' good favor.
    • After Taylor takes his revenge on Sgt. Barnes, the other platoon arrives to look for survivors and someone asks Taylor if he's okay. As he does, Taylor quickly drops a grenade. The script didn't call for it, but Charlie Sheen thought his character would be suicidal at that point in the movie, and Oliver Stone liked it and kept it in the movie.
    • The ending where Chris cries inside the Huey was actually real tears and Charlie Sheen was really crying in that scene.
  • Troubled Production: The filming was almost cancelled due to the EDSA revolution happening in the Philippines, which was used for California Doubling. Willem Dafoe remarked that it was "an incredible feeling because a revolution happened" while he was in the streets waiting for the filming to resume.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • John Cusack, Kyle MacLachlan and Keanu Reeves turned down the role of Chris Taylor. Originally Charlie Sheen was turned down for the main role of Chris because it was felt he was too young for the part. His older brother Emilio Estevez was offered the part but the project fell apart due to financial problems. Two years later the project was given the go-ahead, but Estevez had already committed to other projects. Charlie Sheen again read for the part and won it.
    • Stone at one point wanted Mickey Rourke for Barnes and Nick Nolte for Elias, but they both turned it down.
    • Kevin Costner was offered the role of Barnes, but he turned it down, as he had a brother who served in Vietnam and didn't want to disrespect him. William Petersen was offered the role, but declined, as it meant spending six weeks away from his family. Thomas F. Wilson applied for the role, but lost out.
    • Jeff Bridges was considered for Elias and Denzel Washington was interested. Val Kilmer auditioned for the role. According to Stone, he gave a bizarre audition where he portrayed the character as an Indian shaman. Kris Kristofferson was also considered.
    • James Woods turned down a role because he couldn't face working with Stone in another jungle.
    • A young Ben Stiller auditioned for a part in the movie, but reportedly, Stone immediately rejected him before Stiller could even read his lines because he found him "cute".
  • Write What You Know: The film was heavily based on Oliver Stone's experiences in Vietnam. For example, the scene in which Chris saves a Vietnamese girl from being raped is based on an incident in which he intervened in an assault on a villager in Vietnam.