This film is notorious for the amount of animal abuse that took place during production. Actual cockfights, decapitated chickens and physical torture of horses including at least four deaths are all proven to have taken place. The outcry prompted the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) to contractually authorize the American Humane Society to monitor the use of all animals in all filmed media.
Jeff Bridges salvaged the log cabin from the set of the film and now uses it as a family get-away in Montana.
Second of two films that actor Christopher Walken made with director Michael Cimino. The first was The Deer Hunter (1978) where both Walken and Cimino had won Oscars.
Both Kris Kristofferson and Jeff Bridges are very proud of being in this film. Kristofferson says that he'll be proud of it as long as he's in the business, and Bridges says that he likes it better for every time he sees it.
Film debuts of Willem Dafoe and Terry O'Quinn.
Willem Dafoe appears briefly as a cockfighter. According to Dafoe, his role was supposed to be much larger. But during a long lighting setup, Dafoe laughed out loud at a joke that an extra told him. Michael Cimino was so annoyed that he fired Dafoe. Dafoe is uncredited. Dafoe would later narrate the documentary of the making of this film, Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate (2004). |