How Scott Became Patton

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Costing approximately $12 million, Patton became a critical and financial success; even President Richard Nixon said he enjoyed it! Go behind-the-scenes below!

1. Scott got the part thanks to another movie.

Studio head Darryl Zanuck thought Scott would be the perfect Patton after seeing him play Abraham in The Bible. However, others at the studio didn’t believe that he was a big enough star for the part. Others considered for the role included Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, and Robert Mitchum. The part went to George C. Scott, whose performance got recognized by the Academy – though Scott turned down the Oscar.

2. The original director left.

William Wyler was the first director chosen for the film. However, he believed that Francis Ford Coppola’s script wasn’t right, and a second script was completed by James Webb. However, George C. Scott though Coppola’s version presented Patton as a whole character, rather than cliché. “I wanted to play every conceivable facet of the man,” Scott said. As a result, Wyler decided to exit the project and directed Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl instead.

3. Scott dove into the character.

Along with reading thirteen biographies and watching newsreels, Scott had his dentist create caps so that his teeth would look like Patton’s. He also shaved his head and wore a gray wig, used fake moles, and applied putty and tape to give him the general’s nose. He also attempted to copy Patton’s voice but decided that copying its high pitch would only distract the audience.

4. Scott worried about the opening.

George felt that his speech at the beginning of the film was too big and feared that if it remained at the start that the rest of the film wouldn’t be able to match its energy. So the director slyly had Scott do the scene last without telling him that it would open the movie. Each time Scott had to do a retake, he did the whole speech, rather than just picking up at a certain line.

5. The film tried to appeal to the young crowd.

Patton had different subtitles when it was released including “A Salute to a Rebel” and “Lust for Glory.” The “Rebel” line hoped to appeal to the young audience – especially those who were anti-Vietnam. The film’s poster said, “Patton was a rebel before it became fashionable. He rebelled against the Establishment—and its ideas of warfare.”