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12 Little Known Facts About ‘The Patriot’

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Target Practice

patriot facts aim small miss small

Source: Columbia Pictures/

When Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger were getting shooting lessons from technical advisor Mark Baker, they were told to “aim small, miss small,” meaning that if they aimed for a small feature on their larger target, they were more likely to hit the target as a whole (think a button on a soldier, instead of the soldier himself).

Gibson liked this advice so much that he incorporated it into the movie, making it one of the film’s most recognizable mantras.

Great Names

patriot facts great danes


One plot point in the movie is that the militia captures two of Lord Cornwallis’s Great Danes. They become an important bargaining chip later in the film, but as it turns out, writers got the names all wrong.

Great Danes as we know them today didn’t acquire their name until the 19th century. During the Revolutionary War, they would have been known as German Boar-hounds or German Mastiffs.

Runners Up

the patriot fun facts heath ledger

Credit: Carlo Allegri/ Getty Images

Heath Ledger wasn’t always the choice to play Gabriel. Other actors up for the role included Elijah Wood, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Walker. But the decision ultimately came down to Ryan Phillippe and Heath Ledger. You already know who won out.