Anthony Quinn said in an interview a few years before his death that he originally accepted a deal that would have paid him a percentage of the profits this film generated instead of an upfront salary. When his agent found out about it, the agent changed the deal and insisted an upfront salary and no percentage. Quinn said that decision cost him several million dollars.
Anthony Quinn was working on a film with Giulietta Masina when she introduced him to her husband, Federico Fellini. Fellini was immediately convinced that the American actor would make the perfect Zampano the strongman in his new film, which was to become (La Strada (1954), and implored him to accept the role. The nonplussed actor, who had no idea who Fellini was, initially turned him down, but Fellini was persistent, pestering him for days about the project. Shortly thereafter, Quinn spent the evening with Ingrid Bergman and her husband, director Roberto Rossellini. After dinner, the three watched Fellini's most recent film, the comedy-drama (I Vitelloni (1953), and Quinn realized with astonishment that the crazy Italian filmmaker who had been hounding him for days was a genius.