The film was financed with the understanding that Jennifer Tilly was to play the role of Corky. The actress playing Violet dropped out of the project shortly before shooting began, however. At this point Gina Gershon became available to do the film. At first she was to play Violet; but since she was better suited to Corky, she and Tilly switched roles.
Joe Pantoliano was instructed by the Wachowskis to watch The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and base his Cesar character on Humphrey Bogart's Fred C. Dobbs.
This was the film that convinced the studio of the Wachowski's talent as directors so that they could make the The Matrix (1999), a screenplay/story they had come up with during the filming of their first screenplay, Assassins (1995).
When executives at some studios read the script, they told the Wachowskis that if they changed the character of Corky to that of a man, they would be interested. The siblings declined, saying "that movie's been made a million times, so we're really not interested in it."
Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly went fully nude for the main lesbian sex scene between Corky and Violet and they declined the use of body doubles.
Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly were nervous about filming the sex scenes and prepared by drinking tequila.
Jennifer Tilly originally read for the part of Corky. She loved the role and was looking forward to playing a character very different from previous parts in her career. When the part of Violet became available, and Gina Gershon came in to read for Corky, Tilly agreed that Gershon would make a better Corky. She realized that she identified with the character of Violet, a woman "underestimated by all the men around her" who has to "play the game".
The Wachowskis struggled to cast the roles of Violet and Corky, seemingly because of the lesbian content of the film. Few actresses were interested.
Susie Bright was the technical consultant for the bedroom scenes. The Wachowskis were fans of Bright and sent her a copy of the script with a letter asking her to be an extra in the film. When she read the script she loved it, particularly as it was about women enjoying having sex and not apologizing for it. Disappointed that they never described exactly what was happening in the sex scenes, she asked if she could be a sex consultant for the film and they agreed. Bright also appeared as Jesse, the woman Corky tries to talk to in the bar and the extras in the bar scene were Bright's friends-"real life San Francisco dykes".
Bill Pope and the Wachowskis drew from their love of comics and were influenced by Frank Miller's neo-noir Sin City series in particular.
The physical exchanges in the script caused some injuries. Barry Kivel received a head injury from his head being banged against the toilet and in the scenes between Corky and Caesar near the end of the film, Gina Gershon hit her hand so hard when she knocked a gun from Joe Pantoliano's hand that she required stitches.
The main sex scene set in Corky's apartment was filmed in one long shot. The Wachowskis believed that this would look more realistic than several shots edited together. Although it should have been a closed set, there were actually many people present, moving the walls of the set in order to allow full movement of the camera around the actors.
This was Joe Pantoliano's first leading role in a film. It's also his favourite role.
Joel Silver has said that after working as scriptwriters on Assassins (1995), the Wachowskis made Bound as an "audition piece" to prove that they knew what to do on a movie set. Conversely, Lana Wachowski has said Joel "made that up." The Wachowskis themselves claim they "decided simply to focus on making their own directorial debut." They had the idea to write a story about how one might see a woman on the street and make assumptions about her sexuality, but how those assumptions might be wrong. They wanted to play with stereotypes and make an entertaining film that contained sex and violence, because those are the kinds of films that they like to watch. Seeing film noir as a genre within which they could tell a contained story and twist conventions, they described Billy Wilder as a big influence.
It had been rumored that the Wachowski sisters had originally wanted Gina Gershon to play Trinity in The Matrix trilogy, which Carrie Ann-Moss was cast.
The Wachowskis were significantly limited by their budget when it came to choosing songs for the soundtrack. They had wanted to use "The Girl from Ipanema" and Frank Sinatra songs, but could not afford to.
The Wachowskis' original director of photography resigned on the grounds that he could not do the film with the limited budget he had available, nor did he know anyone he believed could. Subsequently cinematographer Bill Pope was hired, who knew "a bunch of cheap guys".
Gina Gershon's influences for her role were James Dean, Marlon Brando and Clint Eastwood.
Very little improvisation took place during the filming due to the Wachowskis' extensive planning and clear vision for the film.
Joe Pantoliano would later work with the Wachowski sisters again in The Matrix (1999) which he played secondary antagonist Cypher, and the TV-show Sense8 (2015).
The film is mentioned in dialogue in Jennifer Tilly's later film Seed of Chucky (2004), which Tilly plays herself and when she is asked about Gina Gershon in the film, which she answers that they remained friends after they finished work on the film.
Frank Miller's Sin City and Billy Wilder were The Wachowski Sisters' influences behind the film.
The apartments & characters have a green color scheme with some black & white, dashed with the red of blood & Violet's dress, but very little blue. The only real blue is in the uniforms of the policemen who represent the real world lying beyond the tight realm of the gangsters. This foreshadows the coloring used by the Wachowskis in their later movies The Matrix (1999) and its sequels.
After production on the film was completed, the Wachowski sisters began work on the script of The Matrix (1999). Gina Gershon would star opposite John Travolta and Nicholas Cage in Face/Off (1997) and Jennifer Tilly would star opposite Jim Carey in Liar, Liar (1997).
Larry Wachowski later became Lana Wachowski. "Lana" is also the name of Rebecca De Mornay's character in Risky Business (1983), in which Joe Pantoliano appeared.