The idea for the movie was inspired by a drawing Tim Burton had done when he was a teenager,The drawing depicted a thin, solemn man with long, sharp blades for fingers. Burton stated that he was often alone and had trouble retaining friendships. "I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don't know exactly why."
The restaurant, at which the family eats, was, at one time, a real restaurant; a national chain diner called "Sambo's". It was located directly across the street from Southgate Shopping Center, as it appears in the movie. Due to the controversial nature of the name and interior design, the diner (and entire chain) closed sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, except for the original location in Santa Barbara, California, which, to this day, remains open in its original location. It remained an abandoned building for many years, until Tim Burton came to town to film this movie. Burton's crew unboarded the doors and windows and redressed the interior to look like a working restaurant again.
Tim Burton had asked Robert Smith of The Cure to do the soundtrack, and had even sent the script. Robert was busy recording "Disintegration" at the time, and didn't know who Burton was, so passed up the opportunity, handing Danny Elfman the job.
When Edward goes to have his hands sharpened, the storefront was that of an actual hardware store called Crowder Brothers in the Southgate Shopping Center. At the time of the filming, they did offer a sharpening service, and they did have a giant motorized Wenger in the window.
During the scene where Edward is cutting the neighborhood ladies hair, the song playing is from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Johnny Depp would later go on to play Sweeney Todd in another collaboration with Tim Burton.
Winona Ryder starred in three films in 1990. "Edward Scissorhands" and "Mermaids", which were released on the same day, December 14, 1990. Ryder was also the star of "Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael" which was released two months earlier.
The hill on which Edward's Gothic mansion sits is based on California Institute of The Arts, Tim Burton's alma matter. The campus for the Institute is on a hill in Valencia, looking down on a clean-cut suburban town.
Though Tim Burton was unfamiliar with Johnny Depp's then-popular performance in 21 Jump Street, he had always been Burton's first choice. At the time of his casting, Depp was wanting to break out of the teen idol status which his performance in 21 Jump Street had afforded him. Fox studio executives were so worried about Edward's image, that they tried to keep pictures of Depp in full costume under wraps until release of the film.To prepare for his role, Johnny Depp watched the films of silent movie actor Charles Chaplin to get an idea of how to emote without dialogue.
Viewers are divided on whether they think Kim is telling a fairy tale to her granddaughter or relating a story about something that really happened to her. since it's debatable viewers are left to decide.
When Peg Boggs comes into the Mansion for the first time, she backs up to the staircase and she looks around for a few moments. If you look carefully at the wall at the top of the stairs in the right top corner you'll see an odd spiky shaped shadow, which moves and has the faint sound of scissors snipping. It is Edward looking down to see who the stranger to his house is.
The scene where Peg Boggs comes into the mansion she backs up to the base of the staircase, right behind her you'll see a statue which looks like the Oogie Boogie man in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) which Tim Burton came up with the story and produced also.
Dianne Wiest was the first to sign on. "Dianne, in particular, was wonderful", Burton said. "She was the first actress to read the script, supported it completely and, because she is so respected, once she had given it her stamp of approval, others soon got interested".
Tim Burton acknowledged that the main themes of Edward Scissorhands deal with self-discovery and isolation. Edward is found living alone in the attic of a Gothic castle, a setting that is also used for main characters in Burton's Batman and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Edward Scissorhands climaxes much like James Whale's Frankenstein and Burton's own Frankenweenie. A mob confronts the "evil creature", in this case, Edward, at his castle. With Edward unable to consummate his love for Kim because of his appearance, the film can also be seen as being influenced by Beauty and the Beast. Edward Scissorhands is a fairy tale book-ended by a prologue and an epilogue featuring Kim Boggs as an old woman telling her granddaughter the story, augmenting the German Expressionism and Gothic fiction archetypes.
Tim Burton hired Caroline Thompson, then a young novelist, to write the Edward Scissorhands screenplay as a spec script. Burton was impressed with her short novel, First Born, which was "about an abortion that came back to life". Burton felt First Born had the same psychological elements he wanted to showcase in Edward Scissorhands. "Every detail was so important to Tim because it was so personal", Thompson remarked. She wrote Scissorhands as a "love poem" to Burton, calling him "the most articulate person I know, but couldn't put a single sentence together".
Burton explained that his depiction of suburbia is "not a bad place. It's a weird place. I tried to walk the fine line of making it funny and strange without it being judgmental. It's a place where there's a lot of integrity." Kim leaves her jock boyfriend (Jim) to be with Edward, an event that many have postulated as Burton's revenge against jocks he encountered as a teenager in suburban Burbank, CA. Jim is subsequently killed, a scene that shocked a number of observers who felt the whole tone of the film had been radically altered. Burton referred to this scene as a "high school fantasy".