Screenwriter Reginald Rose updated his own 43-year-old teleplay, racially integrating the cast of jurors for the first time. When asked in an interview why he didn't cast some of the jurors as women, he jokingly (but accurately) quipped, "Then the title would have to be changed to '12 Angry Persons,' and it wouldn't be as effective."
Jack Lemmon was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance, and lost to Ving Rhames. Upon winning, however, Rhames asked Jack Lemmon to join him on stage and presented the award to him. Lemmon declared that the moment was "one of the sweetest in my life."
There are only two of the jurors that are identified by name; #8 as Mr. Davis and #9 as Mr. McCardle. All but one of the jurors are identified by their profession; #1 High School Football Coach, #2 Bank Teller, #3 Messenger Service Owner, #4 Stock Broker, #5 Hospital Nurse, #6 Painter, #7 Marmalade Salesman, #8 Architect, #10 Car Wash Owner, #11 Watch Maker, and #12 Advertising Agent.
In this updated version, the line referring to the electric chair and pulling the switch was changed to "give him the needle" referring to lethal injection since the electric chair is no longer used in capital punishment cases.
In the original 1957 script, the defense attorney is referred to several times as 'he'. In the 1997 script, the defense attorney is again referred to as 'he', but, in the opening scene of the 1997 version, the defense attorney who is sitting next to the defendant is a woman (oops!).
Every take had two camera setups running simultaneously, capturing the focused dialogue and reaction shots. That meant the entire cast had to stay in character even when they had no dialogue for the scene.
Out of the 12 actors who played the 1997 jurors, only 4 are younger than those who played their 1957 alter-egos, in increasing order: #1: 1 year, #11: 2 years, #6: 4 years and the biggest age gap is between the two jurors #10: 16 years. As for the rest of the cast, the majority is older than the 1957 one, the biggest age gap being between the two Jurors #2: Ossie Davis who was 80 at the time of the film and John Fiedlerwho was 32, which makes a difference of 48 years. Overall, the average age of the 1997 movie's jurors is 56, vs. 45 for the 1957 version.