Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen met and fell in love during the filming of Time After Time (1979). They were married from September 29, 1980 to October 1, 1990. Nicholas Meyer chose to not let them meet before the scene was filmed, to keep their reactions fresh for the scene. He has no idea they would actually fall in love.
In this film, Mary Steenburgen played Amy Robbins, a 20th Century woman who falls in love with a time traveller from the 19th Century. In Back to the Future Part III (1990), she played Clara Clayton, a 19th Century woman who falls in love with a time traveller from the 20th Century.
H.G. Wells always refers to his time machine simply as "the time machine" or "the machine". When the machine is first shown, however, the name "Argo" is visible on the front. This is the name Wells gave to his machine in the novel that inspired the film.
Despite the romance of the film, the real-life marriage of Wells and Robbins was anything but blissful. Wells cheated on his wife repeatedly, and was unapologetic about it. In fact, he was so egotistical that he told friends that men ought to be allowed to have as many mistresses as they pleased. Wives, though, Wells said, must be chaste, for appearance's sake.
The movie theater where Wells and Amy see the film was the same one which showed The Exorcist (1973) in an exclusive engagement. The infamous San Francisco serial killer, Zodiac, saw the film there, too.
During chase scenes at the hotel, David Warner is replaced with a stunt double for far shots because he was still on the mend from two broken ankles. In close-up shots, he can be seen running very carefully as not to hurt himself. Also, for scenes where Malcolm McDowell is running through the columns, he is also replaced with a double because of a sprained ankle.
DITRADE(Nicholas Meyer): [Holmes]: When H.G. Wells gives a false name to the police, he uses "Sherlock Holmes". And one of the police officers is named Inspector Gregson, a character from the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Also, director Nicholas Meyer wrote The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), which is considered to be one of the best Sherlock Holmes story not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
November 5th, the date H.G. Wells travels to in the future has two other connections in the time travel genre: Back to the Future: the date (in various years) that Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to. Jon-Erik Hexum's birth date (in 1957) who starred in the time travel series "Voyagers!"
The role of Amy Robbins went to Mary Steenburgen. However, the studio had wanted Sally Field. Director Nicholas Meyer's first choice was his girlfriend, Shelley Hack. She reportedly didn't want to become famous due to her boyfriend - but she did accept a small role as a docent at the museum H.G. Wells transports into.
Wells goes forward in time to November 5th, 1979. The same "time travel arrival date" was used in Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (November 5th, 1877) and Back to the Future (November 5th, 1955).
DITRADE(Nicholas Meyer): [Holmes]: Wells's landlady is named "Mrs. Turner." Sherlock Holmes refers to his landlady as "Mrs. Turner" once (in "A Scandal in Bohemia") even though her name is "Mrs. Hudson" in all the other stories. Nicholas Meyer, a Holmes aficionado and author of three well-known Holmes pastiches, is familiar with this inconsistency in the Holmes canon (he even mentions it at one point in his DVD commentary on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)) and apparently included it as an inside joke, along with the several other Holmes references in the film.
When Wells hails a taxi and asks to be taken quickly to the Hyatt hotel the point of view shot of the ensuing high speed trip looks and sounds an awful lot like similar shots from the chase scene in Bullitt. Some of this footage might have been borrowed from Bullitt.
Both this film and Star Trek IV The Voyage Home were written by Nicholas Meyer. This film features a time traveler from the past who arrives in modern day San Francisco; The Voyage Home features time travelers from the future who arrive in modern day San Francisco. Both films feature the time travelers experiencing several instances of fish-out-of-water scenarios for comedic effect, as well as selling antique items which they have in their possession in order to raise money. In both films a modern day woman decides to join the time travelers as they return to their own time periods.
In the theatrical release, when Wells and Amy are out to dinner he says the food is "far superior to that Scottish place I breakfasted." She asks what place and he says McDonald's, referring to an earlier scene. The producers didn't have permission to used the name McDonald's in the film and he says he ate at McDougall's.
Ironically, the book, The Time Machine, was meant as a cautionary tale of social commentary. In the story, the time traveler discovers a world where the English class system has created two different sets of humans. The beautiful upper-world people are childlike with Low IQs, while the workers live underground and have become cannibalistic savages. The novel prescribes socialism as the cure.
Stevenson commits six murders over the course of the film - one in 1893 London and five in 1979 San Francisco. The film itself takes place over a little less than a week, from the perspective of H.G. Wells and Stevenson. The historical Jack the Ripper killed a total of five women over the course of 11 weeks in 1888.