Following the "eggplant scene", Dennis Hopper was concerned about being "shot" by Christopher Walken with the prop gun so close against his head for fear of being burned by the barrel. Director Tony Scott assured him the gun was 100% safe, and even tested it by having the prop man fire it against his (Scott's) own forehead. But upon firing the prop gun the barrel extended about a third of an inch and Scott ended up on the floor with blood pouring from the wound.
Gary Oldman met with Tony Scott about the project and told him he hadn't read the script he'd been sent, then asked Scott what his part was like. Scott told him "You're playing a white guy who thinks he's black, and you're a pimp." Oldman immediately accepted the role.
In the diner scene, when Clarence asks Alabama what her turn-offs are, she replies "Persians" in the finished film. Being turned off by her character appearing racist in that scene, Patricia Arquette, who played Alabama, name-dropped a different ethnicity for each take that was shot. She said she wanted to be equally offensive to all people.
The genesis of True Romance began with a 50 page script by Roger Avary titles The Open Road. Avary described the plot as being about "an odd couple relationship between an uptight business man and an out-of-control hitch-hiker who travel into a Hellish mid-Western town together." When he had trouble finishing it, he asked his friend and fellow Video Archives clerk, Quentin Tarantino, to give it a shot. After several weeks, Quentin handed him over 500 hand-written pages of, what Roger Avary described as "the Bible of pop culture." Roger typed and edited the behemoth, working with Quentin on further story ideas. According to a Film Threat article from 1994, the final script was a combination of True Romance and Natural Born Killers (1994). Reportedly, it followed Quentin's original NBK script until after the prison riot. After escaping, Mickey and Mallory decide to find and kill the screenwriter who wrote the glitzy Hollywood movie about their exploits. The writer goes on the run, and True Romance was the movie he writes while trying to evade the two psychotic killers. It was told in trademark Tarantino chapter fashion, out of chronological order. When it became obvious that the miniseries-length script would never sell, they split the two stories into separate movies.
The scene on the roller coaster was filmed over two days. Michael Rapaport unfortunately has a fear of roller coasters, and suffers from acute motion sickness, facts which no one knew during the first day's filming. By the second day, the crew was prepared for this, and they gave him something to calm his nerves. As a result, one can easily tell from cut to cut on which day a particular moment was filmed by watching his face in the background. His expression goes back and forth from apprehensive and nauseous (the first day) to bland and oblivious of his surroundings (the second day).
According to director Tony Scott, Val Kilmer had originally wanted to play the character of Clarence. Kilmer spent 8 hours in make-up being transformed into Elvis Presley. Fortunately, he was only required for two days of filming. The character is called Mentor in the closing credits so as not to face any litigation from the Presley estate.
As a temporary music track, Film Editor Tony Ciccone put "Outshined" by Soundgarden in the scene where stoner Brad Pitt gives directions to the henchman. The result was such a hit at test screenings that a good portion of the music budget went for obtaining rights to use the hit song in the final film.
In a 2008 Maxim article, it is revealed that the character of Lee Donowitz, played by Saul Rubinek, was envisioned as a portrayal of Hollywood producer Joel Silver by the film's director, Tony Scott. The two had just worked together on The Last Boy Scout (1991). When Scott told Rubinek that he "got Joel exactly right" during his audition, Rubinek had no idea who Joel Silver even was. In the article, Scott is quoted as saying: "The Hollywood satire is affectionate, but Joel didn't talk to me for a long time after that."
The character of Blue Lou Boyle was originally a speaking part (with Robert De Niro as the definite favorite), but many cuts were made to Quentin Tarantino's script, including a scene featuring him. Instead, he's briefly mentioned as Vincent Coccotti's (Christopher Walken) superior.
Early versions of the script set the mood with a couple of quotes after the title page. The first: "His films are a desperate cry from the heart of a grotesque fast food culture." -French critics on the films of Roger Corman. The second: "... Beyond all the naiveté and stupidity, beyond the vulgarity inherent in the amount of money involved, beyond all this, a certain grandeur had rooted itself into the scheme, and I could still spy a reckless and artistic splendor to the way we had carried it out." -Clifford Irving on the Howard Hughes hoax.
The trivia section in the DVD special features reports that Writer Quentin Tarantino sold this script for about $10,000. With this money he purchased the red Chevy convertible that Vincent Vega drives in Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino chose the name Alabama as an homage to Pam Grier, who was Alabama in Women in Cages (1971). The original script even had Clarence mention that the name sounded like a Pam Grier character.
Kevin Corrigan's character is listed as "Marvin" but he is never referred to as that name in the film. In one scene, Frankie calls him "Mad Dog". This was an ad-lib by Frank Adonis who felt that Corrigan bore a resemblance to an Irish mob hitman named Mad Dog Coll.
Michael Rapaport was originally cast in the role of Marvin. But the casting director later thought Rapaport was right for the role of Dick Ritchie. Dick Ritchie was originally written as an African-American in the script.
A draft was written when William Lustig was attached as director, where most of the interior scenes where moved outside, including Cliff Worley's confrontation with Vincenzo Coccotti, and the whole Clarence/Drexl fight. "You go inside, you die!" he reportedly told the writers. After he left, the scenes were moved back inside.
Clarence offer to shows Alabama Spider-Man #1 at the comic book store. He probably was referring to Amazing Spider-Man #1 published in 1963, one of the most sought-after modern superhero comic books. The value is extremely dependent on condition, but as of 2009 even a well-worn issue would bring at least $1000 and a perfect pristine copy might sell at auction for close to $100,000.
The comic book that Clarence shows Alabama is "Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos" #18. In this issue, Nick has gotten a ring for his sweetheart (Pamela Hawley) that he keeps on a chain around his neck. Later in the story, he gets in a fight with a Nazi and the ring falls overboard but Fury dives into the ocean to retrieve it. What Clarence doesn't tell Alabama is that when Fury returns to give the ring to his love he finds she's been killed. On a side note, Samuel L. Jackson (who appears as Big Don) would go on to play Fury in Marvel's series of Avenger films.
One of the original directors set up to do this was B-movie veteran William Lustig. But Tarantino turned him down because he did not believe he could do like Jonathan Demme (who went from B-movies to "regular" feature movies).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Tarantino's original ending had Clarence dying in the gun battle, leaving Alabama a widow. Tarantino said that he intended Alabama to turn to crime and join with Mr. White, a character from Reservoir Dogs (1992) (which he wrote and directed). In a flashback scene in Reservoir Dogs (1992), Mr. White is asked about "Alabama".
There are two versions of cop Nicky Dimes' death during the hotel suite shootout. In one of them, Dimes executes Boris for Boris' murder of Cody Nicholson but is then shot and killed by one of the mobsters right before that mobster also dies. In the other version, Dimes still executes Boris but is then shot to death by Alabama because she thinks he shot and killed Clarence (who is badly wounded but alive). Both versions have been used during the film's extensive cable-TV airings.