Elizabeth Taylor was present at the shooting of the final Tower of London scene, out of fear that her husband, Richard Burton, and his co-star Geneviève Bujold, were having an affair. Before she began filming the scene, a furious Bujold told the director, "I'm going to give that bitch an acting lesson she'll never forget!"
Although the source "Anne of the Thousand Days" stage play opened on Broadway in 1948, it had to wait until 1969 to be filmed, due to its frank discussions of adultery, illegitimacy, and incest, on which the storyline relies heavily. The old censorship code still existed in the 1940s and 1950s, and would not have allowed a play in which these subjects were discussed to be filmed, no matter how tastefully.
Actresses Olivia Hussey, Julie Christie, and Faye Dunaway all turned down the role of Anne Boleyn. Hussey was the first choice for the part but she declined due to personal problems she was dealing with at the time. Lead star Richard Burton's wife of the time Elizabeth Taylor wanted to play the character but at age 37 was deemed too old to play the part which the film's advertising clearly stated was barely 18 years of age at the start of the story. The leading female part in the end was cast with French Canadian actress Geneviève Bujold.
First of two consecutive back-to-back historical costume pictures directed by Charles Jarrott about a 16th century British monarch with "Anne of the Thousand Days" being about King Henry VIII. The second movie was Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), about Henry's great-niece, two years later.
If star Richard Burton, who was nominated the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as King Henry VIII in this film, had won the category that year, he would have been the second actor to do so for playing Henry VIII, and the first to win for playing a role that someone else had already won an Oscar for playing the same character. Actor Charles Laughton first played the monarch in 1933 for The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933) and won the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance. Laughton was not present at the awards ceremony and so fellow actor Leslie Howard accepted the award on his behalf. The first two actors to win Oscars for playing the same character were Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972) and Robert De Niro for The Godfather: Part II (1974), playing mob boss Don Vito Corleone at different ages.
The original 1948-1949 Broadway stage production in New York starred Rex Harrison and Joyce Redman playing King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn respectively. Harrison won the Best Actor Tony Award for his performance
John Colicos (Thomas Cromwell) is perhaps best known for playing Kor the Klingon in multiple appearances within the Star Trek Universe (filmed in California), and had to forgo yet another appearance because he was filming this movie in England. Geneviève Bujold (Anne Boleyn) was cast as Captain Elizabeth Janeway (later renamed Kathryn) in Star Trek: Voyager (1995), but dropped out before filming a complete episode.
Maxwell Anderson's source stage play "Anne of the Thousand Days" was originally produced on Broadway in New York at the Shubert Theatre. It opened on 8th December 1948 where it played for 288 performances before it closed on 8th October 1949.
Elizabeth Taylor was paid $46 to appear in a cameo role as a masked courtesan. She really only appeared in the film in order to keep an eye on her husband, Richard Burton, and the French actress, Genevieve Bujold, as she suspected he was having an affair. There was much speculation of the affair, and the truth of it is still unknown.
The movie was able to utilize "BU" letters last-name alliteration of the film's two top-billed stars in its name above-the-title marketing by stating "BURTON - BUJOLD" as in Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The Thousand Days" of the film and source Maxwell Anderson stage play's title refers to the 1000 days that Anne Boleyn met, married, loved, hated and finally was beheaded by her husband King Henry VIII.
First of two films in about three years where actor Richard Burton played a character who killed or had some of his wives killed with the second picture being Bluebeard (1972) where he played the title character.