The poetry written by Simon Templar's long-haired artist character, Thomas Moore, was actually written by Val Kilmer.
Simon uses a Nokia 9000 Communicator cell phone. This phone was very cutting-edge when it was introduced in 1996, as it functioned as both a handheld phone and a clamshell pocket computer, complete with a mini-QWERTY keyboard, and several built-in apps.
The voice of the radio announcer at the end of this movie was Sir Roger Moore, who played The Saint (1962) on British television. The announcer mentions the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as one of the charities that have been given major donations. Moore was heavily involved with UNICEF.
In the original version of this movie, Dr. Russell collapses while giving a lecture and dies in The Saint's arms. The Saint sees Tretiak, Jr. stabbing her in the leg with the tip of his cane. Thus the final half-hour has him set to destroy the villains' plans and avenge her death. With Dr. Botvin's help, he switches the formulas around and humiliates Tretiak during his show trial of the Russian President. The Saint battles Dr. Russell's killer on a stairwell as Russian tanks pound outside, exposing and setting fire to the vast stockpile of heating oil in the basement. With the stairwell disintegrating around them, the fight spills out on to the chandelier, suspended above the blazing oil. The Saint teases Tretiak, Jr. with the disc containing the formula for cold fusion. As he reaches out for it, The Saint cuts the rope and Tretiak, Jr. plummets to a fiery death. Returning to Dr. Russell's home, the Saint finds a letter from her, a tear fills his eye and he vows from now on to use his skills only for good. Test audiences didn't like the way Dr. Russell died three-quarters of the way into the movie. Footage from the original ending features prominently in the primary trailer. Director Phillip Noyce hopes one day to be able to restore the original version for a Director's Cut DVD.
Val Kilmer turned down returning to the Batman franchise after the box-office smash Batman Forever (1995) due to his commitment to this movie.
The saint pin that Dr. Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue) gives to Simon Templar (Val Kilmer) is a re-creation of the original television series' logo.
While filming in Oxford, England, the producers had the Bodleian Library (the main library of The University of Oxford) closed to the public for several days. This caused much complaint in the University, as a large proportion of the students were studying for exams.
At the end, when Simon Templar is driving and listening to the radio news announcer state that $3 billion was donated to the American Red Cross and other charities, the reflection of sunlight in the windshield creates a halo around Simon's head.
When Simon Templar is disguised as a long-haired artist, his accent is a passable imitation South African, specifically Capetonian. He refers to his "home in Africa" and uses the vernacular Afrikaans pronunciation of Jesus ("Yissus!") as an expletive. Kilmer learned the accent from a South African assistant with whom he worked on The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), the movie he completed before he started filming this movie. It is interesting to note that in the short story "The Man Who Was Clever", someone does describe the Saint as South African. However, since the Saint has resorted to deception in the past to achieve his goals, the reliability of this information remains questionable.
A May 1996 Entertainment Weekly set report cited Val Kilmer as being volatile on-set, missing call times, and putting out a lit cigarette in a crew member's face. Elisabeth Shue and producer Mace Neufeld denied Kilmer's misconduct, praising his professionalism and dedication, eventually working seven days a week during re-shoots three months before this movie's release.
A Volvo P1800 can be seen parked directly outside Simon's apartment building in London. This was the type of car driven by Simon in The Saint (1962).
In his autobiography, Sir Roger Moore recalled meeting Val Kilmer at a Cannes Film Festival after this movie came out. Kilmer said of this movie, "Boy, we really messed that up, didn't we?" When Moore asked what he meant, Kilmer replied, "Well, after we finished filming, I went and read the stories. Those were some damn good stories." Moore didn't argue with Kilmer.
The nickname "Boris the Spider", used by Ivan Tretiak to communicate with the Saint, is a reference to a 1966 song by The Who, written by bassist John Entwistle.
The name of the production buyer, John Lanzer, appears as the author of the book, "The Knights of Templar - Their Crowning Crusade", which Simon is reading in secret at the beginning of the movie during class at the orphanage.
This movie uses the classic "Saint" theme tune that, though often thought of as starting with the 1960s television show, actually began in the 1930s and 1940s R.K.O. Saint movies, and appeared in the radio show with Vincent Price. This theme tune, having appeared in numerous post 1960s television adaptations of the Saint, serves as one of the most frequently and longest lasting theme tunes of a media franchise.
While the uses of the Nokia phone might seem like a case of product placement, its use in the movie was accidental. Director Phillip Noyce was talking to a technician working on the movie when he noticed the flip phone with the attached keyboard. He thought it was a movie prop created for the movie, and when the technician said it was a real phone, Noyce decided it was the phone Templar would use.
First big-screen Saint movie since the 1950s. Plans for a Saint movie date back to the 1980s, when Pierce Brosnan was reported to be a leading contender for the Templar role in a Saint movie that was to be produced by Sir Roger Moore. This project never materialized.
The blonde Russian woman who hides Emma and Simon after he falls into the river, was played by Lucija Serbedzija, the real-life daughter of Rade Serbedzija (Tretiak).
The song that is playing in the Russian community flat where Simon and Emma hide is a Turkmen song performed by Atabay Chariguliyev, "Ayrilsa".
For the climatic riot scene, actual newsreel footage from similar protest rallies were intermixed with the new footage they shot. In order to make the new and the old look alike, the new footage had to be degraded in quality, to more closely match the old television footage.
The car alarm in the garage scene uses the same tones from the theme music of The Saint (1962).
The car driven by Simon is a Volvo C70, the only coupe from Volvo in 1997, like the Volvo coupe P1800 from the original series.
Sir Kenneth Branagh, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role of Simon Templar.
When Val Kilmer does his southern voice, for one of his many voices, he sounded just like he did when he portrayed Doc Holliday in Tombstone (1993).
Director Phillip Noyce originally hoped to have Mel Gibson play the lead. Gibson was initially interested, but then decided that he had spent too long away from home making Braveheart (1995).
In close-up shots it's easy to see that the medication Emma is taking is propranolol, a beta blocker. It's used to treat angina (chest pain), irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and other conditions. One can assume Emma's plagued by an irregular heartbeat as her symptoms don't fit the other diseases this medication treats.
During the political rally for Tretiak, the movie cuts to a scene showing a video switching console with various live camera feeds. The individual TV monitors are labeled with names, presumably of the camera operators, scrawled on masking tape in Russian. The names, in Cyrillic, actually read "Michael," "Bill," "Tony," and "Pete." This is likely an inside joke, as the names match technical crew assigned to the Russia second unit.
Paramount Pictures' attempt to make this movie with Robert Evans as producer, Steven Zaillian as writer, and Sydney Pollack as director. Ralph Fiennes was offered $1 million for the lead, but eventually passed. In a 1994 interview for Premiere Magazine, Fiennes said the screenplay, racing fast cars, breaking into Swiss banks, was nothing he hadn't seen before.
In a 1997 interview with Des O'Connor for his ITV show, Hugh Grant says he passed on the role after a meeting with director Phillip Noyce because he didn't like Noyce's approach to the character.
There is a poster dated October 13, 1997 Ku Klux Klan Rally Alabama, Georgia inside the Red Square office where the doctor is mending to the Russian politician's son.
There were two rounds of re-shoots on the film. The first was over 8 days in December 1996, ending just before Christmas. The second was over another 8 days in Oxford, England during January 1997. These re-shoots ended up costing over $2 million.
Emily Mortimer has a brief scene with Val Kilmer on an airplane. They previously played husband and wife in The Ghost and the Darkness.
On May 29, 1991, Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat wrote that Finnish director Renny Harlin had signed a contract with Paramount Pictures to direct the new movie adaptation of The Saint, with Robert Evans producing.
Ivan Tretiak and the Russian prostitute were both portrayed by Croatians rather than actual Russians.
Jonathan Hensleigh's draft cast Simon Templar as a mercenary hired by a billionaire Russian oil and gas tycoon to steal the secret of cold fusion from an eccentric, but beautiful American scientist. The story would take place in Washington, D.C., upstate New York, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Setpieces included Dr. Russell skydiving while strapped into a wheelchair and a plane landing in Red Square. Darwin Mayflower described it as one of the top unproduced screenplays.