According to one of the featurettes on the DVD, Stephen King called this film the single most faithful adaptation of his work.
For emotional scenes, Michael Clarke Duncan would recall his father leaving him as a child.
Fifteen mice were used in the movie. Each spent months being trained to do different tricks.
Originally set in 1932, the timeframe was bumped to 1935 so that the movie Top Hat (1935) could be featured.
Tom Hanks accepted the role of Paul Edgecomb as a favor to Frank Darabont, after he was forced to turn down the role of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption (1994), in order to play the title role in Forrest Gump (1994).
Many times the actors are looking at a laser pointing at the floor and not a mouse.
Michael Jeter was the soul of the cast, according to producer David Valdes. He remembers Tom Hanks crying on Michael's last day of shooting.
When the producers were having trouble finding the right actor to fill the role of John Coffey, Bruce Willis suggested Michael Clarke Duncan, with whom he had co-starred in Armageddon (1998).
According to director Frank Darabont, Doug Hutchison (Percy) was given the squeakiest shoes he had ever heard. He thought this was the greatest bit of fate, and a "perfectly wonderful, annoying character trait" that he kept it in the movie, and you can hear sometimes how loud his shoes are.
The prison guards wear uniforms to give the movie an "authentic" feel, even though uniforms were not in use at the time in which the movie is set. The book states that all of the guards were in uniform when they were working The Mile.
The reason Stephen King serialized "The Green Mile" was a deliberate response to fans who flipped to the end of his books, something his mother used to do. Publishing it in installments meant that fans would have to wait for the last installment to find out the ending. King wrote each one with its own miniature climax, but even he admitted he did not have a clue how the story would end.
Tom Hanks stayed in character as Paul Edgecomb whenever Stephen King visited the set. King asked him if he would like to sit in Old Sparky, but Hanks refused since he is in charge of the block.
(at around 1h 35 mins) Tom Hanks wasn't pretending to swipe his shirt. The mouse really defecated on him in the scene.
Coffey's bed was built shorter in order to make Michael Clarke Duncan look like a giant.
Just as director Frank Darabont was getting started writing the screenplay, he found out that his cat had developed a tumor. With the cat dying but not being in any pain, he decided to not have it put down. Instead he cared for it at home while adapting "The Green Mile", referring to it as his "co-writer" or "co-pilot", as it spent a lot of time keeping him company at his desk. Darabont said, "It's the whole 'Green Mile' death row experience . . . The writing of it was very much that. I had this creature I really cared about walking that mile". The cat passed away two months later, just about the same time the script was finished.
In reality, Michael Clarke Duncan was of a similar height to his co-star David Morse, and was a couple of inches shorter than James Cromwell. Amongst other things, creative camera angles were used to create the illusion that Duncan, as John Coffey, towered over the prison staff, even "Brutal" Howell and Warden Moores.
Originally, Tom Hanks was going to play the older Paul Edgecomb, but the makeup tests did not make him look credible enough to be an elderly man. Dabbs Greer was cast instead as the older Paul Edgecomb.
Michael Clarke Duncan had to stop lifting weights while filming to look more like a man from 1935.
Tom Hanks said that the movie is about "great myths that communicate the complexities of being a human."
More than 30 works of Stephen King have been adapted to movies, but this was the only one to have broken the $100-million mark at the U.S. box-office until It (2017).
Doug Hutchison said that every week on set was "a different chapter in Percy abuse."
Rodney Barnes was Michael Clarke Duncan's stand-in. According to Barnes, he sneaked onto the set by hiding in the paddy wagon. He surprised Frank Darabont and asked for a job. Darabont was impressed with Barnes' effort and hired him. Barnes wanted to work on the film so that he could meet his favorite author, Stephen King.
(at around 1h 40 mins) It was Michael Jeter's idea for Delacroix to be reciting the Hail Mary in Cajun French when he's in the electric chair.
Mr. Jingles' cigar box is from Marsh Wheeling, the oldest cigar manufacturer in the U.S.
When Stephen King visited the set of this film, he asked to be strapped into Old Sparky to see how it felt. He did not like it and asked to be released.
(at around 1h 30 mins) No mice were injured during the stomping scene. They used a puppet.
(at around 2h 5 mins) When Paul and Brutus take John Coffey outdoors at night, John looks at the stars and says, "Look Boss, it's Cassie, the lady in the rocking chair." This is a reference to the constellation Cassiopeia. In Greek mythology, Queen Cassiopeia is often depicted as sitting in a chair or rocking chair.
Frank Darabont controlled the lightning machine himself to create all the flashes. "I have a little control panel with buttons on it and I get to go crazy."
Final film of Dabbs Greer. NOTE: Greer had originally turned down the role because he had health issues, but director Frank Darabont was determined to have him, so he shot around Greer's character, Paul Edgecomb, until Greer's health issues had been resolved enough to enable him to take the role.
Doug Hutchison (Percy) made a $20 bet with the extras (behind the scenes) during Del's execution that they couldn't recite his lines. Unknowingly, Tom Hanks wrote Hutchison's lines on big cue cards behind him. Hutchison caught on to the joke when the extras kept laughing. By the end of the day, he owed at least $60 to different people.
(at around 1h 21 mins) The crew made a small cannon to shoot chocolate goo at David Morse. The goo hit Morse so hard it went up his nose, in his eyes, and into his mouth. Morse wasn't amused, as he's allergic to chocolate.
Stephen King responded to criticism that saw the film as a racial allegory by saying the only reason he made John Coffey a black man was that, given the time, place and setting of the novel and the crime for which Coffey was convicted, it was the only way to leave no doubt that he would have been sentenced to death.
(at around 2h 40 mins) According to Frank Darabont, it's no coincidence that the projector is creating a halo over John's head.
E Block was built as one giant set so cameras could follow actors for longer shots.
(at around 15 mins) Early in the film, Paul yells at Percy to "Get the fuck off my block," but it was later re-dubbed to "Get the hell off my block."
In order to make Melinda look strange, makeup artists made it look like she didn't have eyebrows.
The name for the character John Coffey was lifted from a college professor, Rev. John Coffee. Stephen King had met him once and really liked his name and used it in "The Green Mile." Rev. Coffee taught history classes at Emerson College in Boston, MA, and retired in May 2005.
(at around 2h 30 mins) The sequence of what Paul sees when he takes John's hand was shot at a slower speed in order to give it a dream-like quality.
Frank Darabont originally wanted Barry Pepper to play the part of sadistic guard Percy.
According to the novel by Stephen King, Percy Wetmore is supposed to be 21 years old. During production, Doug Hutchison (Percy) was 39. He told director Frank Darabont he was in his early/mid 30s. When he went to audition for The Salton Sea (2002), the director for that film told him he was "too young," at which point Hutchison showed his driver's license to prove his age.
According to Frank Darabont, the electricity is meant to sound like a beast being unleashed.
(at around 3 mins) The music played over the loudspeakers in the retirement home as Old Paul Edgecomb first walks out of his room is the same as the music the nurses played at medication time in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). The music used is Mantovani's "Charmaine".
Although Harry Dean Stanton appears in this film, and there are characters named "Harry" and "Dean Stanton", they are only coincidences; they were in the original novel, which was written long before Stanton was cast in the film.
In order to stay true to the book, Sam Rockwell requested the makeup team apply fake zits for his nude scene.
This film was voted #2 in Channel 4's (U.K.) "Top 100 Tearjerkers" countdown, losing first place to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
(at around 3 mins) At the beginning of the movie, when the elderly Paul Edgecomb is walking to get breakfast after waking from his bad dream, he is walking on a tiled floor that is very green, as if it is his own Green Mile.
Frank Darabont cast Dabbs Greer because he was a fan of It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), in both of which Greer had appeared. "It!" was was also an inspiration for Alien (1979), another of Darabont's favorite films and which featured cast member Harry Dean Stanton.
That giant brick wall in the background of the prison is made out of lightweight fiberglass. All the walls could be moved to make room for cameras and lighting.
The film flips the action of the first two installments of the novel. The first book, "The Two Dead Girls," begins with John Coffey arriving on the Mile, but at this point Arlen Bitterbuck has already been executed and Eduard Delacroix already has his mouse. The second book goes back to before John's arrival and tells of Bitterbuck's fate and the origins of the mouse.
Stephen King's original novel "The Green Mile" was published in 100-page paperback installments between March and August of 1996. He had begun developing the story while writing "Desperation" and needed to finish that novel but still wanted to see where his death row story would go. Ralph Vicinanza, a friend of King's who sells foreign publication rights, had recently had a discussion with another friend in England about Charles Dickens, in which he learned that Dickens often published his novels in installments in newspapers and magazines, and it had been suggested that, in the U.S., King could try writing a book that way. Vicinanza was under the impression that no recent novels had been written this way. He was, in fact, mistaken--Tom Wolfe had published his first draft of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" in installments in "Rolling Stone", and that story was also turned into a Tom Hanks film (The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). "Green Mile, as it turned out, was not King's only story published in installments: his "Dark Tower" series spanned seven full-length books, published over the course of 22 years, from 1982 until 2004.
While many of Stephen King's novels are set in the author's native Maine, "The Green Mile" takes place in Louisiana. However, the surname of the main character, Edgecomb, is the name of a town on Maine's mid-coast.
Many actors in this film have previously or subsequently appeared in other Stephen King adaptations. David Morse appeared in The Langoliers (1995) and Hearts in Atlantis (2001). James Cromwell appeared in Salem's Lot (2004), which was previously made with his wife, Julie Cobb. Patricia Clarkson appeared in Carrie (2002). Jeffrey DeMunn and William Sadler appeared together in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) as well as The Mist (2007), also both directed by Frank Darabont. Harry Dean Stanton appeared in Christine (1983), and Gary Sinise appeared in The Stand (1994).
Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise also appeared together in Forrest Gump (1994) and Apollo 13 (1995).
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to not be nominated for Best Director.
(at around 32 mins) It's ironic that when Percy first encounters Mr. Jingles he calls him "scurvy", which is a condition caused by lack of vitamin C. Mice have an active gene that synthesizes vitamin C.
The film cast includes two Oscar winners (Tom Hanks and Sam Rockwell) and five Oscar nominees (Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell, Patricia Clarkson, Gary Sinise and Graham Greene)
Michael Jeter (who plays Eduard Delacroix) was also in Mousehunt (1997), another film which co-starred a gifted mouse.
This movie features four actors who have portrayed real-life U.S. Presidents: David Morse played George Washington in John Adams (2008), Gary Sinise played Harry S. Truman in Truman (1995), James Cromwell played George H. W. Bush in W. (2008), and Sam Rockwell played George W. Bush in Vice (2018).
Eduard Delacroix's botched execution scene was inspired by the real-life execution of wrongfully accused murderer Jesse Tafero. On May 4, 1990, six-inch flames shot out of his head during his electric chair execution. It was deduced a synthetic sponge was used rather than a sea sponge.
Five people who worked on The Shawshank Redemption (1994) worked on this film; Jeffrey DeMunn, William Sadler, Brian Libby, and Frank Darabont. DeMunn played the D.A. in the beginning of the film, and Sadler played Heywood. Mack Miles played an orderly here and played Tyrell, the prisoner in The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Brian Libby was an inmate in Shawshank and the Sheriff in this film. Both movies are Stephen King adaptions.
Bonnie Hunt and Patricia Clarkson both appeared in Jumanji (1995). They did not share any scenes there and only share one here.
This is the first of two 1930s-era films starring Tom Hanks with a music score by Thomas Newman, the other being Road to Perdition (2002). The respective directors of both films, Frank Darabont and Sam Mendes, always use Newman to score their films.
In addition to the other titles mentioned actor Jeffrey DeMunn also worked with writer/producer Frank Darabont on his AMC series The Walking Dead (2010). DeMunn portrayed feisty, RV owning Dale Horvath who often acted as the group's moral compass.
(at around 2h 30 mins) The expression about the cheese slipping off the cracker was used in True Blood (2008), which also takes place in Louisiana.
David Morse appeared in Stephen King mini-series years earlier The Langoliers (1995).
David Morse appeared in an episode of Tales from the Crypt (1989) that was written by Frank Darabont.
The main antagonist of Michael Jeter's character, Edward Delacroix, is named Percy. Jeter would go on to portray a likeable character named Percy in 2003's Open Range (2003).
4 actors in this film have appeared with Bruce Willis in different films. Tom Hanks (Paul Edgecomb) appeared in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). David Morse (Brutus Howell) appeared in Twelve Monkeys and 16 Blocks (2006). William Sadler (Klaus Detterick) appeared in Die Hard 2 (1990), and Michael Clarke Duncan (John Coffey) appeared in Breakfast of Champions (1999), Sin City (2005), Armageddon (1998), and The Whole Nine Yards (2000).
Tom Hanks and Bonnie Hunt both starred in dog movies. Hanks starred in Turner & Hooch (1989). Hunt starred in Beethoven (1992) and its sequel Beethoven's 2nd (1993).
Gary sinise (Burt Hammersmith ) also played Stuart Redman in another Stephen king adaptation The Stand 1994
In the novel, Harry Terwilliger is described as being a young bachelor, while Dean Stanton (Paul's 3rd in command) is the man with the family who is always polishing his glasses. In the film, it is the other way round - the physical appearance and the names have been switched (Harry wears glasses, etc). However, both in the movie and in the book, it is the character by the name of Dean who is attacked by Wild Bill.
Tom Hanks and Sam Rockwell both appeared in films with Tim Allen during the holiday season this year. Hanks appeared in Toy Story 2, and Rockwell appeared in Galaxy Quest.
Harry Dean Stanton also appeared this year in The Straight Story, opposite Richard Farnsworth and Sissy Spacek. Farnsworth and Spacek have also both appeared in Stephen King adaptations: Carrie and Misery.