Director and star Johnny Depp was deeply upset at negative reviews by American critics attending an otherwise successful screening at the Cannes Film Festival. As a result, he refused to release the film in the United States.
In this film, Johnny Depp plays a Native American. A character mocks him by calling him "Tonto." Johnny Depp also played the character Tonto in The Lone Ranger (2013).
Aziz Ghazal, manager of USC film school's equipment room, optioned the novel in 1992 and got the producers to convince Touchstone to let him make his directorial debut with the film. However, before production began, Ghazal bludgeoned his wife and 13-year-old daughter to death, and went missing in late 1993. Touchstone backed out. A month later, Ghazal's body was discovered by hikers in a secluded area south of Mt. San Jacinto in Riverside County. It was determined he had committed suicide, shooting himself with a .380 caliber pistol. A note was found inside his abandoned car that read "You can never know the pain you caused me" as well as a copy of The Brave. The producers later went to Depp, who liked the concept but not the script, which he rewrote with his brother and made his own directorial debut with it.
Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando both previously starred together in Don Juan de Marco (1995).