Back in the 1980’s when the first Highlander was filmed, there was very little CGI. How do you tell the story of an immortal swordsman fighting another immortal barbarian with no CGI and a tiny budget?
Needless to say, there was a lot of drinking.
In an interview with The Guardian, director Russell Mulcahy opened up on what it was like to make the film. “We shot fast – in Scotland, London and New York. The budget was just $13m so it was guerrilla-style film-making. When we were in Glen Coe, the producer had to run down the mountain with a pocket of change to call the studio from a phone box. On the plane up, Sean brought out a bottle of homemade scotch a friend had given him. “C’mon, laddie,” he said, “have a nip of this.” It blew my brains out.”
Back in the day, low-tech was all they had. Coming from a theater background, director Russell Mulcahy had plenty of tricks up his sleeves. For battle scenes, he strapped car batteries to the actors’ legs, so when the sword struck, sparks bounced everywhere. But after about three takes, the sword handle gets crazy hot and they would have to stop.
When Sean Connery and Clancy Brown, who played villain, had their first big fight, Clancy was supposed to charge in and chop the table in half with his sword. But he hit the table with the flat of the blade. The sword broke, shooting a shard over Sean’s head. Sean was on the verge of walking out. He put on his dressing gown and was calling his manager. Clancy said: “I’m so sorry. I was so nervous because it’s Sean Connery.” Sean said: “Maybe we’ll use my stunt double more.”
I would drink too, if I were Sean.
But it wasn’t just Sean who was friendly with the bottle. Actor Christopher Lambert, who played Connor MacLeod in Highlander said, “It was my first time in Scotland. Insurance people completely forbid drinking on set, but try that up there and you’ll get shot. I’m not saying Scottish people drink all the time, but if they drink, they drink. It’s not a sip of wine, it’s a quarter of a bottle of scotch. There were 1,000 extras for the battle scenes and they went at it for real. After each shot, the cries went up: ‘Doctor!’ ‘Nurse!'”
I’m guessing it was a Glenfiddich. They clearly did not drink enough in the sequel.