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Dublin: 15°C Sunday 13 June 2021

Irish weather was glorious for the filming of Saving Private Ryan and Spielberg wasn't happy

He was a big fan of the army reserve soldiers who worked as extras in the film though.

Source: DFMagazine/YouTube

YESTERDAY WE SHOWED you a little of what it was like behind the scenes of the filming of Saving Private Ryan in Wexford.

Hundreds of young army reserves worked as extras on the film and the Defence Forces have released two videos this weekend giving a taste of what it was like to be on set with director Stephen Spielberg and the movie’s star Tom Hanks.

In the second part, we hear from Spielberg himself, who says he thinks the Irish army is “wonderful”.

“Your men are just doing a brilliant, brilliant job. They’re just fantastic,” he tells the Defence Forces camera crew.

He then goes onto ask them to pray for the weather to be overcast. He had been hoping for typically (miserable) Irish weather for the grim scenes but that summer the sun was shining away and making life difficult for the Hollywood crew. They resorted to setting fires on the beach so the smoke would make the sky look more grey and murky.

It meant a lot of waiting around for the extras, now Commandant Shane Keogh, featured in the above video told us.

“It was frustrating for them because they were thinking the weather was going to be terrible and it was beautiful. It meant we were sitting on the beach a lot waiting for the right weather to come,” he said.

So when the chance came to get off the beach and do something a bit different, Keogh, then a teenage cadet, was not going to say no.

He was one of four soldiers picked out of the crowd to have a real (albeit small) part in the movie.

Keogh laughed as he recounted how it all played out:

They didn’t say what they wanted us for – I thought they were picking me out because my hair wasn’t short enough. So one of the helpers said they wanted two of us inside this tent and they said you’re going to be in this scene and this is what you have to do and they sent us off to get more detailed uniforms which looked better than the ones we had as extras. It was only at this stage we figured out what was really going on, that was the beauty of it really, they just told us to do things and we did it without question.

Over the next few hours, Keogh was forced to go over and over his small part, which basically involved sitting at a table in a tent, standing up at one stage and picking up a map.

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After running through it all multiple times with people who were focusing on getting lighting and camera angles right, all of a sudden, Steven Spielberg arrived on the set and Keogh was “completely awestruck”.

“We had been quite distant from him at that point, I wouldn’t have had interaction with him as an extra and he introduced himself. Anyway, after a few takes he yelled “Stop, stop stop” and came down to give out to us. He said he wanted us to put it in context and that we had to take it seriously even though it only looks like I’m russling maps. The problem is, I was more overawed after that.”

Soon after, the actors themselves came on and Tom Hanks nailed the scene in just three takes.

“He was a really nice fella, a gentleman. My lasting impression of him was that he was so professional. When he came on set he was just so slick and smooth and so professional, so courteous to everybody, not just the director,” Keogh said.

For him, it was a great experience to have at such a young age and it’s now his claim to fame.

Every so often people I haven’t seen in ages say “oh I saw you on the telly the other day” and I get a good giggle out of it.

Don’t forget to watch the video above, which also shows the troops being shown how to properly run with their rifles. Their instructor did not seem too impressed, exclaiming “Holy Jesus” as they crawled through the sand.

WATCH: Behind the scenes of Saving Private Ryan filmed on a Wexford beach>

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