Nicolas Cage's screen test didn't impress the studio, and they wanted to get someone else to play Ronny. But Cher insisted that Cage was the one to play that role, and threatened to quit unless he was hired. After a few days, the studio relented.
Director Norman Jewison was fined by the actors' union for not allowing his actors to go to lunch until they perfected the moods of their characters for the climax scene in the kitchen.
Norman Jewison has stated that the climactic kitchen sequence was the most difficult scene that he ever shot in his career. The crew were dismissed and Jewison rehearsed with the cast for some time, using a stage production approach. Only after the actors perfected their timing did he decide where to put the camera.
The opening title sequence was originally played on the score from "La bohème" opera but was changed to the Dean Martin track "That's Amore" because the preview drew negative test audience reaction. Many shifted uncomfortably on their seats, thinking that they had been lured into an art film.
According to casting director Howard Feuer, both Anne Bancroft and Maureen Stapleton had been considered for the role of Cher's mother, but their fees were too expensive for the production budget. Feuer remembered Olympia Dukakis, a character actress known for years to most in casting, she read for director Norman Jewison and he hired her instantly.
While filming between takes, Cher motioned to Olympia Dukakis that the movie was going to be a dud. She originally thought that she was giving a bad performance. She went on to win the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actress.
John Mahoney later revealed that his role in the film got him widespread attention, helping him get cast in the TV series Frasier (1993).
The studio heads had Peter Gallagher in mind for the role of Ronny Cammareri, but Cher adamantly wanted Nicolas Cage to play Ronny, as she thought he could play "crazy" more realistically. She shot a screen test with Gallagher, and also one with Cage. After the tests, the studio still wanted Gallagher in the role. However, Cher fought for Cage, insisting that she wouldn't do the movie without him. The studio relented, and Cage was cast. Gallagher would eventually be cast in a similarly themed film, While You Were Sleeping (1995).
The despondent moan that Olympia Dukakis repeats to herself throughout the film is a direct homage to the same moans that Dustin Hoffman delivers throughout "The Graduate".
According to Nicolas Cage, the acting style he was channeling while doing the hand speech was inspired by watching the body language of actor Rudolf Klein-Rogge in director Fritz Lang's 1927 German expressionist film 'Metropolis'.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Cher, Olympia Dukakis and Nicolas Cage; and two Oscar nominees: Vincent Gardenia and Danny Aiello.
Ranked #8 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Romantic Comedy" in June 2008.
The movie's line "Snap out of it!" was voted as the #96 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Actors Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, and John Mahoney all share a June 20th birthday. Actors Nicolas Cage and Vincent Gardenia share a January 7th birthday.
The only Best Picture Oscar-nominated film that either Cher or Nicolas Cage have appeared in.
Danny Aiello and Nicolas Cage play brothers, but Aiello is 31 years older than Cage.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
The opening credits show a sign advertising the opera "La Bohème", conducted by "Roger Paradiso". Roger Paradiso was involved with the production of this film.
Watch the shot where Johnny kneels down in the Grand Ticino - as he kneels down and his face nearly leaves the camera with the nervous expression, you can see him burst out laughing for about one second. If you listen closely, you can hear people laughing at him, obviously the camera crew.
When Johnny hails a cab at the airport after his return from Sicily, he asks the driver to take him to "19 Cranberry Street, Brooklyn." This is a real house located a few blocks from the East River, just like the exteriors shown in the movie.
Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley wrote the film's script with Sally Field in mind for the lead role, which in the end was played by Cher instead.
1987 was a busy year for Cher. Along with Moonstruck, she also starred in the feature films Suspect (1987) (with Liam Neeson and Dennis Quaid) and The Witches of Eastwick (1987) (with Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer). It was also the year she resurrected her solo music career with her hit self-titled album Cher. Sadly, it was the unexpected pinnacle of her acting career. She would only follow up with the box office disappointment Mermaids (1990), eventually disappearing from the big screen altogether. She has only made a few film appearances since in films such as Faithful (1996), Tea with Mussolini (1999), and Burlesque (2010). Though she never regained a big status as an actress, her musical career flourished with hits like "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "Believe". She has stated that acting was too demanding after being diagnosed with Epstein-Barr Syndrome in the late 1980s. Her biggest regrets regarding her acting career include turning down roles in Thelma & Louise (1991), The Addams Family (1991), The Piano (1993), and Death Becomes Her (1992).
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
The "Old Man" is played by Feodor Chaliapin Jr. (although credited in the film as Feodor Chaliapin). He is the son of Feodor Chaliapin Sr., who was one of the greatest bassists of all time - a Russian who often performed at the Metropolitan Opera in the early 1900s.
The original screenplay featured a subplot that showed the characters played by Cher and Vincent Gardenia volunteering at a men's homeless shelter as penance for their sins. The subplot was discarded.
As of 2018, Olympia Dukakis's Oscar-winning performance is her only Academy Award nomination.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The storefront (502 Henry St.) that once housed the famous Cammareri Bros. Italian bakery became Maybelle's Cafe for a while. That has since closed and a new restaurant (Purbird Flame Grilled Chicken) opened in 2015. The original bakery equipment is still stored in the basement of the building - it's too big and expensive to remove.
Like several other members of the production crew, costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge is also credited on the poster for "La bohème" shown at the beginning of the film.
Philip Rosenberg, in charge of production design, is also credited on the billboard at the Met for the production of "La bohème" attended by Loretta and Ronnie.
The only film that year to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress Oscars.
Producer Patrick J. Palmer initially rejected the script, saying that a special quality was not on the page.
Louis Guss and Julie Bovasso, who play Cher's uncle and aunt, also appeared as husband and wife eight years earlier in Willie and Phil (1980).
Vincent Gardenia & Olympia Dukakis previously co-starred together in Death Wish (1974). Gardenia played the main detective investigating the murders, while Dukakis played a police officer.
Nicolas Cage plays Ronny, a man with only one hand. In Cage's previous role in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Cage's character begged Peggy to marry him, saying he doesn't know what the future might bring: he might lose his arm.
All crew members named on the advertisements for La Bohème worked on the film. However, the only crew member whose depicted work is consistent with their actual job is Costume Designer Theoni Aldredge.