Audrey Hepburn's salary of $350,000 for the film was the highest salary an actress had ever received to date. When notified of her record salary Hepburn modestly told her agent, "I'm not worth it. It's impossible. Please don't tell anyone."
For the filming of the epic battle scenes, the producers hired 65 physicians, dressed them as soldiers and scattered them throughout the location to take care of any extras or stuntmen who might get injured during filming of the scenes.
Italian director Mario Soldati directed about one-third of the picture including the Battle of Borodino, the entry of the Grand Army into Moscow, their retreat, the Beresina Crossing, and scenes in Bolkonsky's country house. He appears only in the credits as a Second Unit Director.
Henry Fonda claimed that he had agreed to do the film after reading a version of the screenplay written by Irwin Shaw, and was much displeased when this was re-written by others. He also claimed that producer Dino De Laurentiis would go into fits of screaming rage whenever he saw him wearing eyeglasses, as the character of Pierre is supposed to do; De Laurentiis insisted that this was not properly heroic, which suggested to both Fonda and King Vidor that he had never actually read the book. Fonda and Vidor used the eyeglasses only on those days when De Laurentiis didn't visit the set (which, fortunately, were quite numerous).
There were 3 rival productions mentioned in the US trade papers at this time, Alexander Korda was trying to mount a version where Orson Welles would direct Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and Welles himself, while impresario Mike Todd planned to film it with his wife Elizabeth Taylor. De Laurentiis was first off the starters block with this., the fourth biggest grosser of 1956 taking in $12.5m on a budget of $6m.