A Scottish vacation led Wallace to make the transition to the big screen. While visiting Edinburgh, he learned of the 13th-century adventurer William Wallace, who led a revolt against English rule. After further research, he penned the script for "Braveheart" (1995), which caught the attention of Mel Gibson, who directed and starred in the epic. Wallace's screenplay won praise from critics, enthralled audiences and earned nominations for both the Writers Guild of America Award and an Oscar. The script writer moved behind the camera to helm the uneven but popular 1998 remake of "The Man in the Iron Mask," starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Wallace next turned to a WWII-era drama about a pair of sailor brothers in love with the same woman. He had encountered director Michael Bay at an industry function and at Bay's recommendation was offered a job by Disney to write the screenplay for "Pearl Harbor" (2001). Rejiggering the original story idea, Wallace made the main characters friends from Tennessee instead of siblings. As played by Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett, the pair are buddies and friendly rivals both in the skies (as pilots) and on the ground (for the affections of a nurse played by Kate Beckinsale). During the pre-production phase, Wallace and director Bay clashed over rewrites. The writer was particularly adamant about not making the dialogue too contemporary (including the use of certain profanities), but the director won out by hiring other writers to tweak the script. (Although Bay did ask Wallace to remain on the project and consult with the new writers, an offer Wallace rejected.) Despite the difficulties, "Pearl Harbor" was one of the summer's most anticipated films. Retaining a war theme, Wallace returned to the director's chair to helm "We Were Soldiers" (2002), his own adaptation of the Vietnam War-themed book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," which marked a reunion with Mel Gibson who both produced and starred.
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