1998’s The Man In The Iron Mask has just about everything you could want from a great historical fiction movie. It has action, romance, tension, betrayal, and the greatest team of warriors 17th Century France had to offer; The Musketeers. We love it, and we’re sure you do too, but we’re also willing to bet that you didn’t know a few of these facts about the movie.
Sir Anthony Hopkins was the first choice to play Aramis, which ultimately went to Jeremy Irons
They also considered Sam Neill and Alan Rickman for the part.
The original story is loosely based on a joke by Voltaire
Alexandre Dumas’s original novel was inspired by a real-life prisoner in the Bastille who was forced to wear a leather mask for the two years leading to his execution. However, Voltaire was the one who joked about the man being a royal lookalike, nearly 70 years after the execution.
All four Musketeers are played by actors of different nationalities
Jeremy Irons is English, John Malkovich is American, Gérard Depardieu is French, and Gabriel Byrne is Irish.
The “Iron Mask” was actually made of polystyrene
The facts get more interesting from here…
Aramis’ statement, “I am a genius, not an engineer,” is a pun in the original French
it goes “Je suis un génie, pas un ingénieur.”
D’Artagnan is supposed to be much younger than the other Musketeers, but Gabriel Byrne is the same age as Jeremy Irons and Gérard Depardieu
Aramis had much more selfish motivations in the book
He wanted to install Philippe as King not for justice, but to try to get Philippe to make him a Cardinal and support his candidacy for Pope.
MGM discovered that 55% of the movie’s audience was female, 46% of which were under 25. This was attributed to Leonardo DiCaprio’s casting.
The romance between Athos’ son Raoul and the girl Christine is a reference to “The Phantom of the Opera”
They share names with the leading romantic couple from Gaston Leroux’s novel.
There is a real-life conspiracy theory about Louis XIV’s birth
Some people believe the real-life masked man was Louis XIV’s biological father, and that the King’s birth was in fact a conspiracy hatched by Queen Anne and Cardinal Richelieu to keep Louis XIII’s brother Gaston off the throne of France. This is considered by most historians to be nonsense.