One day, Kathy Wood, the wife of Edward D. Wood, Jr. visited the set, and asked to meet Johnny Depp. That day, they were filming a scene where Wood would look really messed up, which made Burton nervous for what Kathy would think of the movie. When Depp exited his trailer, she said, "That's my Eddie."
This film cost more to produce than all of Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s films put together.
Martin Landau's Academy Award for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi marked the first time in Oscar history that a performer in any category won for playing a movie star. A decade later, Cate Blanchett won a "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" Academy Award for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004).
Initially, Bela Lugosi, Jr. didn't want to see the film because he thought it wouldn't portray his father correctly, but upon further persuasion, he saw the film, and agreed that Martin Landau honored his father in the performance. The two later became friends.
Tim Burton said that he was drawn to the story because of the similarities between Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s relationship with Bela Lugosi, and his own friendship with Vincent Price late in the actor's life.
Bela Lugosi, Jr.'s only objection to the film's portrayal of his father was his speech. In Lugosi's memory, his father never used foul language.
During the bar scene with Wood, Orson Welles complains that Universal Pictures wanted him to make a film with Charlton Heston cast as a Mexican, a reference to Touch of Evil (1958). In reality, Welles was first approached by Universal to act in the film. Heston was the one who insisted that Welles be allowed to direct it, too. The film was based on a novel, Badge of Evil, in which Heston's character was an American. Since Welles also wrote the screenplay, casting Heston as a Mexican was Welles' idea.
Unhappy with Vincent D'Onofrio, Tim Burton had his voice dubbed by Maurice LaMarche.
In this film, the footage of Bela Lugosi picking a flower is filmed by Ed outside Lugosi's own house. In reality, the house was Tor Johnson's.
Martin Landau's face had to be painted unnaturally white in order for the black-and-white film stock to record it properly.
It has been estimated that the opening title and credit sequence cost more (in unadjusted dollars) than the entire budget of any of the real Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s films.
Dolores Fuller has disputed her depiction in the movie. She claims that she helped raise money for Glen or Glenda (1953), and helped pick out Ed's wardrobe for the movie, which included some of her own clothes. Fuller also said she left Wood because of his alcoholism, which was not depicted.
Johnny Depp's (Ed Wood's) Hollywood house overlooking his nightclub "The Viper Room" was previously owned by Bela Lugosi.
Johnny Depp has said that his characterization of Edward D. Wood, Jr. was a mixture of "the blind optimism of Ronald Reagan, the enthusiasm of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Casey Kasem."
One story claims that the producers decided to make the film in black and white because no one could decide how Bela Lugosi should look filmed in color.
Originally developed at Columbia Pictures, studio boss Mark Canton and Tim Burton fell out, when the former objected to the film being made in black and white. Burton walked off with the project, shopping it around various other studios, until Disney decided to make it through its Touchstone banner.
In the early scene, in which Ed Wood and his friends look at the review of his play (this is the scene in which he enthusiastically says, "Look, he's got some nice things to say here. 'The soldiers' costumes are very realistic.' That's positive!"), they are looking at a newspaper review in the "Los Angeles Register," at a column entitled "The Theatrical Life by Victor Crowley." The opening paragraphs read: "World War II, a time for brave men with 'guts,' forms the backdrop for 'The Casual Company,' which opened last night in Hollywood. Let me tell you this is definitely a play about 'guts.' It certainly took 'guts' to stage this disappointment. Penned by one Edward D. Wood, Jr., who also has the 'guts' to take credit for directing this foxhole piece, 'The Casual Company' takes place on a barn stage with only rudimentary lighting. ..." Wood really did produce this play, which was based on some of his experiences in the Marines, and which really was a flop.
Wood's line, "They're driving me CRAZY! These Baptists are stupid. Stupid. STUPID!" is modeled on a line from Wood's film Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), in which Eros says "Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!"
George "The Animal" Steele was given heavy shoes with extra weight to help recreate the lumbering walk of the real Tor Johnson.
The musical cue when Ed goes to help the suicidal Lugosi (when Lugosi falls in the chair), and Ed is repeatedly watching the film clip of Lugosi smelling the flower, is an adaptation of the 2nd Act theme from Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, as adapted for the main title of Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931) by Heinz Roemheld. It was also used as the main title for Universal's 1932 follow-up for Lugosi, Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) as well as Boris Karloff's original The Mummy (1932).
Conrad Brooks, one of Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s regulars as an actor, is both a character (portrayed by Brent Hinkley) and an actor (playing the bartender in the scene where Wood meets Orson Welles).
The character of Bela Lugosi continually puts down Boris Karloff and the Frankenstein monster, then later laments that he turned down the role of the monster himself. In reality, Lugosi did play the monster (years after Karloff), in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). Incidentally, he also played the role of Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939) against Karloff's final portrayal as the monster.
Jeffrey Jones' monologue at the beginning of the film is a play on Criswell's monologue from Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).
Vampira's line, "He gives me the willies!" was an in-joke reference to the writer's friend's movie The Willies (1990).
In a scene with Wood and Dolores, the camera angle showing the ceiling, is similar to a scene in Citizen Kane (1941). In the very next scene Ed stands in front of a poster for "Citizen Kane".
The sweeping music during the epilogue is based on the music from Glen or Glenda (1953).
In the final shot of the epilogue with Criswell in the haunted house, before he retreats into the coffin, he says, "My friends, you have seen these incidents based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn't happen?". These are the real Criswell's closing remarks from Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). The film was originally supposed to end with Criswell delivering these lines, but his speech was muted when the filmmakers decided to add the epilogue.
The first costumes Colleen Atwood designed for the Ed Wood character, were his drag wardrobe.
During the bar scene with Wood, Orson Welles (Vincent D'Onofrio) complains of how the finances keeps falling through for his Don Quixote picture. In August 2000, Johnny Depp took part in the filming of "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" with Terry Gilliam directing. Unfortunately, the movie was never completed due to budget cuts, among other problems.
In the scene where Ed is frantically typing a script, and begging Bunny Breckinridge on the phone to get him some transsexuals, he spends more time separating jammed type-bars inside the machine than actually typing. This was a very common annoyance with aging, portable typewriters. However, this may also be due to the format of writing screenplays.
The producers requested that George "The Animal" Steele submit an audition on video for his role as Tor Johnson. Steele made a comedy short, and sent that to the producers. A second audition tape was requested. Steele's wife produced and directed the second audition tape, which used dialogue from the script.
When Ed Wood talks to film backer Old Man McCoy in the meat packing scene, Mr McCoy says "I got a son, he's a little slow, but a good boy." In real-life, Rance Howard's son is Producer and Director Ron Howard.
George "The Animal" Steele worked with a dialect coach for three weeks to recreate Tor Johnson's Swedish accent.
In the scene, when Lugosi appears on the television show playing Dracula, the comic in the skit (played by Bobby Slayton) was probably based on Huntz Hall.
Korla Pandit, who plays the Indian keyboard player, was a real-life local Los Angeles television star in the early 1950s. His show, "A Musical Evening With Korla Pandit", aired on station KTLA in Los Angeles, and consisted of Pandit gazing into the camera while playing the Hammond organ. He never spoke, nor smiled. Audiences found this highly intriguing, and the show was a major hit.
Orson Welles didn't look the same in the mid 1950s. The movie he was making, by the time he spoke to Edward D. Wood, Jr., was Touch of Evil (1958). At that time, his body would have been much larger, and with all gray hair. Instead, his appearance is how he looked in the early 40s, with a slimmer body, and all brown hair.
Michael Lehmann was originally set to direct. Tim Burton was approached to produce, and wanted to direct the film as well, but only if this could be his next project, instead of Mary Reilly (1996), which he was set to officially sign on to in several days. A first treatment of this script was written in six days, and Burton accepted. Lehmann moved on to direct Airheads (1994).
At the time, Johnny Depp was depressed about films and filmmaking. By accepting this part, it gave him a "chance to stretch out and have some fun", and working with Martin Landau, "rejuvenated my love for acting".
Early in the film, Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) tells Ed (Johnny Depp) "If you want to make out with a young lady, take her to see Dracula (1931)". Later in the film, during Ed's first date with Kathy (Patricia Arquette, they ride the haunted house attraction at a fair, during which Dracula shows up both as a dummy, and as a topic of conversation.
Martin Landau did not want to deliver an over-the-top performance. "Lugosi was theatrical, but I never wanted the audience to feel I was an actor chewing the scenery... I felt it had to be Lugosi's theatricality, not mine."
John "Bunny" Breckinridge originally had very little dialogue. His role was greatly expanded when Bill Murray was cast.
In order to imitate Bela Lugosi's voice and mannerisms, Martin Landau watched approximately 35 Lugosi movies, and purchased Hungarian language tapes. With the latter, he would "literally practice the language and see where the tongue would go." When Hungarian-born director Peter Medak saw the film, he called Landau to praise him. Medak said that Landau's accent sounded spot-on, because, "You are not an actor trying to do a Hungarian accent, you're a character trying not to do (one)."
Johnny Depp developed a love-hate relationship with angora sweaters. He jokingly told MTV that he learned too much about women's clothing while making the film. Because angora sheds profusely, Depp joked that in certain scenes, he may have "inhaled more angora than oxygen."
When Tim Burton approached Johnny Depp to star in the film, Depp agreed within ten minutes.
Johnny Depp was already familiar with some of Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s films through John Waters, who had shown him Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and Glen or Glenda (1953).
In the film, Lugosi dismisses Boris Karloff's role of Frankenstein's monster as "all make-up and grunting." In real life, Lugosi himself was offered the part and turned it down because it didn't have any speaking lines and required too much make-up.
The closing scenes, in which Plan 9 is screened, the actual opening credits to Plan 9 appear, as does the original audio.
The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Patricia Arquette and Martin Landau; and two Oscar nominees: Bill Murray and Johnny Depp.
Johnny Depp and Bill Murray have both portrayed Hunter S. Thompson in separate films. Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) (as Thompsons alias Raoul Duke), and Murray in Where the Buffalo Roam (1980).
The first of four films where Lisa Marie and Tim Burton would collaborate together. The other three are Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), and Planet of the Apes (2001).
Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette's first movies were from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Depp debuted in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and Arquette was in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987).