According to director Mel Gibson, Desmond T. Doss's son Desmond Jr. attended the screening and was moved to tears by Andrew Garfield's accurate portrayal of his dad.
A number of events were changed or left out of the movie: Desmond almost shooting his father after a fight with his mother. In real life the fight was between Desmond's father and his uncle, and his mother stepped in to take away the gun, getting Desmond to hide it. Desmond also had an older sister, Audrey, who was not portrayed in the film. Desmond didn't meet Dorothy while she was a nurse at a hospital. In fact, she didn't become a nurse until after the war. They met when she came to his church selling Adventist books. He also didn't miss their wedding by being put in a holding cell, as they were already married by that point. Desmond's prior combat at the Battle of Guam and the Battle of Leyte is skipped over, making it seem as if the Battle of Okinawa was his first combat experience. The assault on Hacksaw Ridge seems to only last a few days, although Desmond's Medal of Honor citation covers events over about 3 weeks, and the Battle of Okinawa itself lasted 82 days.
Hal B. Wallis had previously tried to buy this story from Desmond T. Doss in the 1950s, and hoped that Audie Murphy would star. Doss didn't want his story turned into a typical Hollywood movie.
Mel Gibson said that the battle scenes were influenced by nightmares he had during his childhood, when his father Hutton Gibson, a WW2 veteran who served in Guadalcanal in the Pacific theatre, described the horrors he witnessed as bedtime stories.
In 2004 Terry Benedict directed The Conscientious Objector (2004), a documentary on the life of Desmond T. Doss. The film was produced mostly before Doss died, and it reveals many small details that were changed for the Hollywood release. In the documentary Doss reveals that his nonviolence was inspired by a drunken fight between his father and his uncle in which a gun was involved. If his mother hadn't gotten between them, taken the gun, given it to Desmond and told him to hide it, his father may have killed his own brother. Desmond said that was the defining moment in which he swore to never carry a gun.
The trailer states that Desmond T. Doss was the only soldier to serve in a front-line capacity without carrying a weapon. In WWII, Korea and Vietnam, the military gave several Seventh-Day Adventists the status 1A-O--willing to serve but not to carry a weapon in combat. A number of Quakers volunteered for service in WWI.
The film had a 14-year path from idea to production, according to an article in "Variety".
The battlefield sequence, overseen by Mel Gibson's longtime stunt double Mic Rodgers, was filmed on a small dairy farm (about 100 square meters) near Sydney, Australia. Smoke trucks circled the perimeter to make sure any scenery that didn't look like WWII Okinawa was effectively blocked out.
With the exception of Vince Vaughn (Sgt Howell), the rest of the major actors as well as the supporting cast in the movie were born or raised in either England or Australia. This is because the film had a relatively low budget and the production needed a majority-Australian cast to qualify for Australian government subsidies as a supplement.
The film received a standing ovation lasting nine minutes and 48 seconds at the Venice Film Festival in September 2016. Mel Gibson timed it himself.
When the Doss family is eating supper and Desmond's brother enters wearing an army uniform, Desmond only has vegetables on his plate. Later, in the foxhole, Desmond refuses canned meat, saying he doesn't eat meat. In real life, Desmond T. Doss was a vegetarian, like many Seventh Day Adventists.
Harry S. Truman, the US president at that time, gave Desmond T. Doss his Medal of Honor.
When Dorothy gives Desmond Doss the Bible before leaving for basic training, it is bookmarked at 1 Samuel 17. This is the Old Testament account of David and Goliath.
Film debut of Milo Gibson. NOTE: He is the son of Mel Gibson, and this is the first cinematic collaboration between the two.
One aspect that appealed to Mel Gibson in making this movie was that it contained a "real" superhero without spandex.
Teresa Palmer wanted a role in the film so badly that she auditioned via her iPhone and sent the recording to Mel Gibson. She heard nothing back for three months, until Gibson called Palmer to tell her in a Skype chat that she landed the role of Dorothy, Doss' wife.
Several shots of Japanese soldiers charging come from Oba: The Last Samurai (2011).
Mel Gibson stated that if Desmond T. Doss were alive today, he would want him to be President of the United States.
The Biblical passage narrated by Desmond Doss at the beginning of the film is from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 40.
James Horner was originally hired to compose the score. He had previously collaborated with Mel Gibson on The Man Without a Face (1993), Braveheart (1995), and Apocalypto (2006). After Horner's sudden death, John Debney (composer for The Passion of the Christ (2004)) was chosen as the film's composer. His completed score was rejected, and Rupert Gregson-Williams replaced him for the final cut.
Desmond T. Doss was not the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. Sgt. Alvin C. York was also a conscientious objector. Gary Cooper portrayed him in Sergeant York (1941). According to Wikipedia, York denied that he had been a conscientious objector. York carried a weapon; Doss did not.
Desmond Doss lived a long and happy life with Dorothy and their son Tommy on a small farm in northwestern Georgia, despite his injuries and the lingering effect of the tuberculosis he contracted during the war. Desmond and Dorothy were together just shy of 50 years, until her death in 1991. He married Frances Duman in 1993, and remained with her until his death in 2006 at the age of 87.
Stan Jensen from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church took this story to screenwriter/producer Gregory Crosby in the late 1990s.
In order to make the battle scenes look more realistic, Mel Gibson purchased two $1500 hand-held cameras with his own money.
Mel Gibson was originally meant to play Sgt Howell but passed on the role to Vince Vaughn in order stay focused on directing the film.
Mel Gibson stated that Desmond T. Doss was the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor, and he has inspired others to save almost the same number of lives and those inspired have gone on to become recipients of the Medal of Honor.
Teresa Palmer worked on this movie in Melbourne while finalizing her work on Berlin Syndrome (2017) in the same city.
Vince Vaughn's involvement was his first visit to Australia since Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004). During filming he explored Sydney and its attractions and made headlines when he participated in a public climb of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
While only listed as "Japanese General" in the credits, the seppuku (ritual suicide) scene shows the death of Gen. Ushijima Mitsuru, commanding officer of the 32nd Army, which bore the brunt of the fighting on Okinawa. The details as shown were relayed by his chief of staff, Col. Yahara Hiromichi.
One of the philosophies the Japanese soldiers had on Hacksaw Ridge was to target and eliminate medics and B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle) men. Their objective in doing so was to lower American soldiers' morale and which would make them easier to defeat. However, the Americans found out about this and took countermeasures: medics removed their armbands and helmets with the Red Crosses on them so they could not be easily identified and targeted. B.A.R. men took extra precautions as well, and contributed greatly to the Japanese defeat on Hacksaw Ridge.
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the writing categories.
Luke Bracey's character states multiple times how hot he thinks Teresa Palmer's character is. This is notable, since she played his love interest in Point Break (2015).
The weapon Sgt. Howell (Vince Vaughn) is using is an M3, .45-cal. ACP sub-machine gun, known as the "Grease Gun" or "Greaser". It received its name because it resembles the tool mechanics used to grease machinery. It came into use late in the war, replacing the Thompson sub-machine gun (aka the "Tommy Gun"). It was not a general-issue weapon to infantrymen; normally it was the crew weapon on a tank due to its size and maneuverability while riding in a tank. Many, however, did find their way to front-line troops in mid-1944. Therefore, due to delays caused by production issues and approved specification changes, the M3 saw limited combat use in World War II. The feed system consisted of a 30-round detachable box magazine. This earlier-model weapon had a cocking lever on the side that you can see during some scenes in the movie if you look closely. Later models (M3A1) were charged by simply pulling back on the bolt by inserting your finger into a recess in the bolt. The M3A1 wire stock included a tab to help load magazines, the ends were threaded to accept a cleaning brush to clean the barrel as well as being used as a wrench to unscrew the barrel for disassembly. The M3A1 was used in the Korean War and later conflicts and did not see any action during WWII. The weapon was only manufactured during WWII by General Motors Headlight Division and cost about $20 apiece to manufacture, as opposed to the Thompson sub-machine gun which cost about $100 apiece to manufacture. In 2016 the unit cost to manufacture the M3 was approximately $208.00.
In an interview, Desmond Doss stated that he did not feel like a hero: "The real heroes are still buried over there."
Experts at GoldDerby.com had widely predicted the film to be the Academy Award front runner for Best Sound Editing. Arrival (2016) won instead, while this film won two Oscars that La La Land (2016) had been predicted to win.
Vince Vaughn says the line, "Well, Dorothy, looks like we're not in Kansas anymore", a reference to The Wizard of Oz (1939) to Jon Favreau's failed chat-up line in Swingers (1996), in which Vaughn also stars.