At the time prior to filming, Tom Cruise had a disliking for cutting his hair. When cast for the part, his long locks were the perfect look for the forest dwelling Jack. It is the longest length of Tom's natural hair captured in a film.
Tim Curry had to wear a large, bull-like structure atop his head with three-foot fiberglass horns supported by a harness underneath the makeup. The horns placed a strain on the back of the actor's neck because they extended forward and not straight up. Bottin and his crew finally came up with horns that were hollow and lightweight enough. At the end of the day, he spent an hour in a bath in order to liquefy the soluble spirit gum. At one point, Curry got too impatient and claustrophobic and pulled the makeup off too quickly, tearing off his own skin in the process. Director Ridley Scott felt both horrified and sorry for Curry, and immediately tried to find an easier way to include his character. Since he didn't want Curry to put more make up on his torn skin, he shot around the actor for a week. He also realized this could add dramatic build-up for the character, and reshot some of his opening scenes this way. The footage of him in the opening to the US Theatrical release was the footage he filmed before any of this took place.
Tom Cruise reportedly wasn't happy with the American cut of the film and wouldn't talk about it for years because of it. He very much encouraged fans to go with the Director's Cut, as did film-critic Roger Ebert. As he also felt the Director's Cut was far superior, and became one of his favorite films.
Mia Sara was only sixteen during the filming of Legend. Sara was born in 1967, so she was sixteen in 1984, when production for the film began. But it took a further three years before Legend was finally completed by Ridley Scott, because of the film's immensely troubled production history.
In his commentary on the Director's Cut of Legend, Ridley Scott states that the glasses on the table covered with jewels and treasures as a gift to Princess Lily in Darkness' throne room are still in his possession today.
Composer Jerry Goldsmith's original score was removed by the studio after the first round of test screenings. In an effort to appeal to "the kids", executives commissioned Tangerine Dream to create a replacement. Until 2002, Goldsmith's original score was heard only with the film's European release.
When it came time to assemble the full director's cut, the original session masters for the Jerry Goldsmith score could not be located. However, Mike Ross-Trevor of Hit Factory Studios in London had kept a two-track digital copy, mixed down from eight-track session masters, which he knew "would be worth preserving." Most of these tapes contained complete takes, which had to be re-edited from scratch to match the cues in the recut print.
The famous scene, in which Princess Lily is taken to see and touches the unicorns by Jack, was filmed within the gardens of Pinewood Studios, as at the time of filming, the vast forest set had been destroyed by a fire. This information was stated by Ridley Scott himself on the Director's Commentary on the Ultimate Edition DVD.
When Jack dives off the rock in the forest, it is Ridley Scott's daughter Jordan who is playing Princess Lily, and a stuntman playing Jack. This was done to make the rock look larger than what it was. The close-ups of Mia Sara were added during post-production.
The Dress Waltz, and other dance sequences, were choreographed by Arlene Phillips, who is famous for her role as a judge in the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing (2004). She is a long-term friend of Ridley Scott and was once a babysitter for his children.
Originally, Ridley Scott "only had the vague notion of something in pursuit of the swiftest steed alive which, of course, was the unicorn". He also felt that they should have a quest and wanted unicorns as well as magic armor and a sword. William Hjortsberg suggested plunging the world into wintery darkness.
Initially, the quest was longer, but it was substantially reduced. Ridley Scott wanted to avoid too many subplots that departed from the main story and go for a "more contemporary movement rather than get bogged down in too classical a format".
In the music video for Bryan Ferry's 'Is Your Love Strong Enough' (which is on the soundtrack), clips from the movie are played, and at one point, Bryan climbs up invisible stairs set into a huge screen playing a clip, and at the top of the stairs a door opens, and David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, is seen playing the guitar solo from the song.
Ridley Scott wanted the film to have an original screenplay because he felt that "it was far easier to design a story to fit the medium of cinema than bend the medium for an established story". By chance, he discovered several books written by William Hjortsberg, and found that the writer had already written several scripts for some unmade lower-budgeted films. Scott asked him if he was interested in writing a fairy tale. Fortunately, he was already writing some, and agreed.
Early on, Ridley Scott worked with Alan Lee as a visual consultant who drew some characters and sketched environments. However, Scott eventually replaced Lee with Assheton Gorton, a production designer whom he had wanted for both Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982). Scott hired Gorton because he knew "all the pitfalls of shooting exteriors on a soundstage. We both knew that whatever we did would never look absolutely real, but would very quickly gain its own reality and dispense with any feeling of theatricality".
With the exception of Tom Cruise and Mia Sara, all the principal actors spent hours every morning having extensive makeup applied. Between eight and twelve prosthetic pieces were applied individually to each face, then made up, molded and grafted into the actor's face so that the prosthetics moved with their muscles. Each person needed three make-up artists working on them, for an average time of three and a half hours spent applying prosthetics. Out of all the characters, the most challenging one, in terms of make-up, was Darkness.
Scenes that were in the original script, but never filmed, included Lily's encounter with a "house brownie" (like the ones in Willow), Lily transforming into a humanoid cat creature, Darkness growing huge bat wings during his battle with Jack, a final revelation that Jack is actually immortal, and the unicorn taking Darkness down after the sun sets causing the light trick used to send Darkness to his doom fails.
William Hjortsberg's first draft had Princess Lili slowly transform into a clawed and fur-covered beast who is whipped and sexually seduced by the antagonist (called Baron Couer De Noir in this draft).
At one point, Director Ridley Scott wanted to shoot the entire film in 70mm film stock, but this was deemed too expensive. Richard Edlund came up with the idea of shooting on 70mm film stock, taking the negative and reducing the actors to any size they wanted, but this was also deemed too expensive and Scott had to find an ensemble of small actors.
In the scene when Blix is approaching the unicorn to takes its horn, the unicorn 'falling down' is actually footage of the horse standing up shown backwards to make it appear that it's struggling to stay standing.
Ridley Scott considered making this an incredibly dark horror film, filled with graphic violence, gore and possibly a rape scene. This, however, was changed to a suspense film while shooting began, then an action film after numerous recuts were made for the American release. The Director's Cut of this, being compared to the American Version, is good evidence for this.
By the time Ridley Scott had finished Blade Runner (1982), he and William Hjortsberg had a script that was "lengthy, hugely expensive, and impractical in its size and scope". They went through it and took out large sections that were secondary to the story. The two men went through fifteen script revisions.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the scene where the Lord of Darkness is going to kill the unicorn, the hill of rocks that Jack climbs was instead going to be a pile of rotting bodies. The filmmakers decided to quickly make them look like rocks, as they felt that they looked too disturbing and grotesque, and were deemed unnecessary to the scene. If you look carefully, you can see decaying faces or skulls in the pile.
Director Ridley Scott along with everyone involved with making the film has stated multiple times on how the Director's Cut was much more thought provoking, mainly because it dives into the impurity of humans and their sins. Jack was supposed to be very lustful of Lily from the start, but eventually begins to truly love her. Leader of the forest elves Gump, is a very angry person. Lily sometimes shows greed throughout the film, and the sea-hag Meg Muckelbones is distracted by her vanity as she is beheaded after admiring her own reflection. After a test-screening with mixed to positive results, Scott recut the film to a "stereotypical 80's fantasy". Hence his recommendation for the Director's Cut.