The joke with the elephant defecating while Edward daydreams was unscripted. The filming crew found it hilarious, and quickly zoomed out to get the whole thing.
Ewan McGregor was cast as Young Ed Bloom when producers noticed the striking similarity between him and pictures of a young Albert Finney, who plays Senior Ed Bloom.
When Norther Winslow shows his half finished poem to Edward (Grass so green/Skies so blue/Spectre is really great!), the handwriting is director Tim Burton's.
As a big fan of Tim Burton, Marion Cotillard slept with the film's script under her pillow for a month until she got the part.
When young Edward Bloom is singing in the church and his voice breaks, that single note that we hear is actually Ewan McGregor singing.
Three years is a prominent amount of time that appears in the film on multiple occasions. Examples include Will and his father, Edward, not talking to each other for three years, Edward mentioned he had to stay in his bed for three years, he worked for Calloway's circus for three years, and he mentioned he had to stay in the army for three years.
Young Edward becomes a traveling salesman for a company that sells hands with metal tools as fingers, all held together by a plastic base. The crew were aware that people would draw connections between it and Edward Scissorhands (1990), and therefore purposely did not include scissors in the design.
For scenes in the United States, Alabama was the only state where filming took place. One scene included France, where Will and Joséphine lived at the time.
Even though Young Edward lands in Korea, the ventriloquist and his puppet speak in Tagalog (language of the Philippines) while the Siamese twins and Edward speak in Cantonese (a Chinese dialect). The soldiers who pull the ventriloquist off the stage speak Mandarin Chinese (language of mainland China and Taiwan) while the other soldiers speak in Korean.
The scenes at Auburn were originally supposed to be shot on location on the campus of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, but the school officials asked for script approval and the production did not have time to wait, so they filmed the scenes at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama instead.
Steven Spielberg was attached to this project and wanted Jack Nicholson to star, but dropped out due to his full schedule, soon after which Tim Burton signed on to direct.
Matthew McGrory (Karl the Giant) appreciated the shoes the costume department made for him out of luggage. While he was alive he held the Guinness World Record for the largest feet: size US 29.5.
The actor who plays the banjo in Spectre, Billy Redden, is playing the iconic song "Dueling Banjos" from the film Deliverance (1972) when Edward Bloom arrives for the first time. Redden played Lonnie in Deliverance (1972).
Though the circus Colossus (George McArthur) is shown being dwarfed by Karl the Giant (Matthew McGrory), in reality he's only three inches shorter. McArthur is 7' 3" and McGrory was 7' 6". Creative camera angles and platforms were used to exaggerate McGrory's height.
While Spectre is a fictional town, the ZIP Code shown on the deed to Jenny's house is real. 36104 is one of the ZIP Codes for Montgomery, Alabama. You can however, Google "The Town of Spectre" and see the private island where the set is now abandoned.
When young Will is in his UPI office in Paris he receives a letter from home addressed to 2, Rue Gabriel in the 8th arrondissement. This is actually the address of the US Embassy in Paris.
Tim Burton kept the ventriloquist dummy from the war sequence and has it at his home. He named it Lang.
The circus fat man was played by famed sideshow attraction Howard Huge (Bruce Snowdon). This movie was his final appearance as a professional fat man. His weight peaked at 712 pounds during his career which spanned more than 25 years. When he died in 2009, he reportedly weighed 'only' 609 pounds.
Joseph Campbell's book, "The Hero With A Thousand Faces," appears in this film. It is shown first on a sleeping Edward Bloom (before being picked up and placed on the nightstand by Josephine) and then later still on the nightstand during a scene between Ed and Will. Daniel Wallace is an outspoken fan of Campbell's.
The town of Ashton, Alabama is actually Wetumpka and Prattville in the same state, combined.
A major scene in the film involves Edward Bloom visiting a sorority house at Auburn University. Auburn does not actually have any sorority houses.
After Ed takes a beating in the field of daffodils, the design of his tie is visible. A remarkably similar mirror image of the movie poster for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
Following the apparent suicide of author and monologist Spalding Gray in 2004, this was stated to have been the last movie he saw.
When Edward Bloom arrives home from the War in his dress uniform, the patch on his shoulder shows that he was assigned to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, known as the Rakkasans. Which is located in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky/Tennessee. Home of the 101st Airborne.
The image of a skull can be seen on one of the fishing lures as it turns. This can be seen in the beginning of the movie as Ewan McGregor, as narrator, talks about how some fish cannot be caught.
Even though Helena Bonham Carter played a character ten years younger than Ewan McGregor, in real life, she is five years older than him.
The two portraits on the walls in the bank scene are actually of the founders of Bishop-Parker Furniture Co., Montgomery, Alabama. Several props were purchased there. The buyer noticed the portraits and thought they would pass as old bankers.
Ada Tai and Arlene Tai (Ping and Jing) are twins, though not conjoined. They were attached at the hip and waist with a metal corset-like contraption to fit into the custom dress for their stage performance. They did not do their own singing, however. When their legs needed to appear on camera, two of them were digitally removed.
At 1:17 the commercial on the TV is a real commercial for an actual car dealership in Alabama. Though the name is never clearly shown, Alabamans who saw the film reportedly recognized it immediately.
Matthew McGrory (Karl the giant) passed away two years after this film was released at age 32, from natural causes.
Edward's car is a 1966 Dodge Charger. 1966 was the first year that Dodge made the Charger.
The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Marion Cotillard and Jessica Lange; and three Oscar nominees: Albert Finney, Helena Bonham Carter and Danny DeVito.
When Edward and Karl are walking in their parade as they leave Ashton, From Here to Eternity (1953) can be seen showing at a movie theater.
When Ed Bloom is being given the key to the city, the marching band is playing "The Victors," fight song of The University of Michigan and Bloomington High School North, Indiana. And Franklin High School, Franklin, North Carolina.
When Edward brings Karl to town after he goes to reason with him, the band is playing a song which is actually the Michigan theme song, "The Victors."
When Edward Bloom buys the house with the white picket fence, the sign out front is for the Clancy Realty Company. Daniel B. Clancy was an assistant set decorator for the movie.
The screenplay has been adapted to a stage musical with songs by Andrew Lippa, first performed in 2013. The setting and characters are slightly different.
When Josephine asks for Ed Bloom's permission to take his picture, she holds a cult rangefinder camera, the Leica M6.
The regular 1993 Columbia Pictures logo used during the 2000s wasn't featured at the movie's beginning. The old 1970s "Sunburst" logo, the first of two logos to display a sunburst shape on the torch light, is displayed at the start of the film instead. This was the one that was used between 1976 and 1981, and was the logo used during the 1970s era when the movie was set.
Tim Burton: [distorted female face] Edward imagines Jenny becoming the Witch, with her face aged and wrinkled and one eye missing.