A scene with Ben Stiller as the director of one of Harry's low-budget B-movies was cut from the film because it didn't suit the flow of it. Even though Barry Sonnenfeld thought it was funny (maybe the funniest scene in the movie) it did nothing to advance the plot so it had to go.
Gene Hackman turned down Get Shorty (1995) at first because he doesn't usually do comedies. Barry Sonnenfeld said that's exactly the attitude he wanted from him on set. Play it straight and let the audience decide if it's funny.
MGM didn't want to extensively use Elmore Leonard-inspired dialogue in the film, and pushed Barry Sonnenfeld and Scott Frank to make many passages more generic than the book's, but once John Travolta signed on to the film he successfully pressured the studio to leave Frank's original draft (which had a lot of colorful dialogue) intact for filming. A specific example of this end result came during the sequence where Chili Palmer goes to retrieve his coat from Bones.
When people in West Hollywood first saw the billboard with Danny DeVito dressed up as Napoléon Bonaparte credited with Martin Weir's name, they thought it was a real one and DeVito might have changed his name. The film crew had to explain to residents it was just a prop in DeVito's latest movie.
Barry Sonnenfeld was very eager to work with Danny DeVito on Get Shorty (1995). Eventually DeVito bought the book, and although he hadn't finished reading it, he said he got it. He wasn't referring to the novel. He was referring to the film rights.
When Rene Russo first met with Barry Sonnenfeld and Danny DeVito at a restaurant, she had an allergic reaction to the sesame in her tuna sandwich. She broke out in hives and had to go the doctor, sure she hadn't got the part. Sonnenfeld felt sympathy pains for her, and assured her the role was hers.
At approximately 1:19:40, a newspaper article is momentarily shown on screen with the headline: "Horror Film Producer Questioned in Shooting". Although shown too quickly to read without pausing the scene, the second paragraph of the article reads, "At a morning press briefing, LAPD Sergeant Edward Randall disclosed that Wingate, owner of a Los Angeles Limousine Fleet and a sometime investor in Zimm's films was shot five times. Four wounds were in the chest area, a fifth in one of his feet. Sergeant Randall refused to disclose which foot."
'Harvey Keitel' plays himself as Dennis Farina's character in the film-within-a-film. Both men played the role of Jack Crawford in the film adaptations of Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon" (Farina in Manhunter (1986), Keitel in Red Dragon (2002)).
Almost every one of the magazine covers on the rack behind Chili Palmer at the airport have Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) on the cover. Even the issue of Playboy lists an interview with Martin Weir on its cover.
The original scene with Penny Marshall's cameo had her getting into her car and driving off when the shoot was finished; but the actress hadn't driven a car in many years so it was changed that her assistant drives her off.
Even though he turned down the Chili Palmer role, Michael Keaton did another film based on an Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch. The movie was Jackie Brown (1997) and the role was ATF agent Ray Nicolette which was originally made for John Travolta due to the fact that Tarantino was directing and that he worked with him before on Pulp Fiction (1994). Travolta turned it down due to Face/Off (1997) and Keaton got the part.
Harvey Keitel plays himself filming a movie where he portrays Ray Barbone, a man who is set up by Chili Palmer to get arrested. In the Get Shorty sequel, Be Cool, Harvey Keitel plays the character Nick Carr, who is similarly set up by Chili Palmer to get arrested.
Both Dennis Farina (Ray 'Bones' Barboni) and Alex Rocco who plays his boss (Jimmy Capp) share a scene together and share a birthday together as well. What makes this extra special is that both actors are one of few people in the business who share their birthday on the 29th of February. The only extra day in a year that comes once every four years known as a Leap year.
Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito had both previously played DC Comics villains. Hackman as Lex Luthor in Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) and DeVito as the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot in Batman Returns (1992).
When Get Shorty received its terrestrial premiere in 1999, Radio Times's Adrian Turner reviewed it as Film of the Week. Among what Turner wrote in his review was, "Released in the wake of Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty was an attempt to cash in on the success of Quentin Tarantino. Hence the plot is almost nonexistent. Indeed it seems to be little more than a series of vignettes, as director Barry Sonnenfeld's mordant sense of humour makes light of the violence. But unlike Tarantino he doesn't let it run on forever; there are no sliced ears or bloodbaths here". John Travolta also starred in Pulp Fiction (1994), written and directed by Tarantino.
Quentin Tarantino had been going to direct a prequel to Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), called The Vega Brothers. Michael Madsen played Mr. Blonde (Vic Vega) in Reservoir Dogs and John Travolta played Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Madsen and Travolta became too old to reprise their iconic roles, so Tarantino abandoned the project. Gene Hackman has co-starred with "The Vega Brothers". Hackman with Madsen in Wyatt Earp (1994) - incidentally Madsen turned down being Vincent Vega to be in Wyatt Earp - and Hackman with Travolta in Get Shorty (1995).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
As a nod to his short but memorable role in The Godfather, Jimmy Capp (Ray Bones' boss) as played by Alex Rocco is first and only seen in this film receiving a body massage in a similar manner as the character he played of Moe Green in his final scene in The Godfather before he is assassinated.