After playing Emma Thompson sister in this film, Helena Bonham Carter went on to play the love interest of Thompson's husband, Kenneth Branagh, in Frankenstein. It is rumored that Carter was one of the main reasons for the subsequent Branagh/Thompson divorce. The next woman to play Thompson's sister on film (Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility) also followed that role by playing Branagh's love interest (in Hamlet).
Anthony Hopkins was the first actor cast for the movie. In an interview with Ivory & Merchant on the Merchant Ivory Collection DVD, Ivory says he passed a copy of the script to Anthony Hopkins via a Sound Editor for The Silence of the Lambs (1991) that he knew, "Thereby bypassing all the agents all over the place." Anthony read the script and told Ivory he was very interested in taking the role.
Jemma Redgrave (Evie Wicox) plays the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave (Ruth Wilcox). In real life she is her niece. This is the only time they have shared the screen, although Jemma did act with her Aunt Vanessa on stage in Chekhov's Three Sisters in 1990. The third sister was played by Vanessa's sister and Jemma's aunt, Lynn Redgrave.
The country house used as the location for Howards End is actually over twice as large as seen from the front and partial side views used in the film. It is H-shaped, with a large back portion that the family that owned it moved into during filming, while the front portion was emptied and refinished. (The landscaping was also redone, with flowers and plants more true to the story's period.) The home is owned by friends of the movie's production designer, Luciana Arrighi, and it occurred to her it would make a good stand-in for Howard's End while she was a house guest there.
Ismail Merchant had to pay $250,000 for the rights to the E.M. Forster novel to the trustees of Forster's estate, King's College in Cambridge. Merchant considered this an exorbitant sum but he had to match a Hollywood offer that the college was also considering at the time.