In actuality, Michael Clarke Duncan is of a similar height as his co-star David Morse and is a couple of inches shorter than James Cromwell. Among other things, creative camera angles were used to create the illusion that Duncan as John Coffey towered over the prison staff, even Brutal Howell and Warden Moores.
According to director Frank Darabont, Doug Hutchison (Percy) was given the squeakiest shoes he had ever heard. He thought this was the greatest bit of fate, and a "perfectly wonderful, annoying character trait" that he kept it in the movie, and you can hear sometimes how loud his shoes are.
The reason Stephen King serialized "The Green Mile" was because it was a deliberate response to fans who flipped to the end of his books, something his mother used to do. The fans would have to wait for the last installment to find out the ending. King wrote each one with its own miniature climax, but even he admitted he did not have a clue how the story would end.
Rodney Barnes was Michael Clarke Duncan's stand-in. According to Barnes, he sneaked onto the set by hiding in the paddy wagon. He surprised director Frank Darabont and asked for a job. Darabont was impressed with Barnes' effort and hired him. Barnes wanted to work on the film so that he could meet his favorite author, Stephen King.
When Paul and Brutal take John Coffey outside at night, John looks at the stars and says, "Look Boss, it's Cassie, the lady in the rocking chair." This is a reference to the constellation Cassiopeia. In Greek mythology, Queen Cassiopeia is often depicted as sitting in a chair or rocking chair.
According to the novel by Stephen King, Percy Wetmore is supposed to be 21 years old. During production, Doug Hutchison (Percy) was 39 years old. He told director Frank Darabont he was in his early/mid 30s. When he went to audition for The Salton Sea (2002), the director for that film told him he was "too young," resulting in Hutchison having to show him his driver's license which proved his age.
The name for the character John Coffey was lifted from a college professor, Rev. John Coffee. Stephen King had met him once and really liked his name and used it in "The Green Mile." Reverend Coffee taught history classes at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and retired in May 2005.
Harry Dean Stanton appeared in this film. There is a character named "Harry," and another named "Dean Stanton." This is merely a coincidence, since the characters' names existed in the book long before Harry Dean Stanton was even cast in the movie.
The music played over the loudspeakers in the retirement home as Old Paul Edgecomb first walks out of his room is the same as the music the nurses played at medication time in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). The music used is Mantovani's Charmaine.
At the beginning of the movie, when the old Paul Edgecomb is walking to get some breakfast after waking from that bad dream, he is walking on a tiled floor that is very green, as if it is his Green Mile.
While many of Stephen King's novels are set in the author's native Maine, The Green Mile (1999) takes place in Louisiana. However, the surname of the main character, Edgecomb, is the name of a town on Maine's mid-coast.
Stephen King's original novel 'The Green Mile' was published in 100-page paperback installments between March and August of 1996. He had begun developing the story while writing Desperation, and needed to finish that novel but still wanted to see where his death row story would go. Ralph Vicinanza, a friend of King's who sells foreign publication rights, had recently had a discussion with another friend in England about Charles Dickens, in which he learned that Dickens often published his novels in installments in newspapers and magazines, and it had been suggested that, in the U.S., someone like Stephen King could try writing a book that way. Vicinanza was under the impression that no recent novels had been written this way. He was in fact mistaken. Tom Wolfe had published his first draft of The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) in installments in Rolling Stone. Both that novel and this one were turned into films starring Tom Hanks. This also ended up not being Stephen King's only story published in installments: his Dark Tower series spanned seven full-length books, published over the course of 30 years, from 1982 until 2012.
Doug Hutchison (Percy) made a bet with the extras (behind the scenes) during Del's execution. He bet $20 to any extra who can recite his lines. Unknowingly, Tom Hanks wrote Hutchison's lines on big cue cards behind him. He caught on to the joke when the extras kept laughing. By the end of the day, Hutchison owed at least $60 to different people.
The film flips the action of the first two installments of the novel. The first book, "The Two Dead Girls," begins with John Coffey arriving on the Mile, but at this point Arlen Bitterbuck has already been executed and Eduard Delacroix already has his mouse. The second book goes back to before John's arrival and tells of Bitterbuck's fate and the origins of the mouse.
In the beginning scene of the movie (older) Paul Edgecomb is walking to the dining room of the old folks home. A musical piece called Charmaine by Mantovani is playing in the halls. This music is also playing in the opening scene of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) at medication time.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Michael Clarke Duncan was uncomfortable with having to grab Tom Hanks crotch for the scene where he takes his infection away. Hanks left the set, came back to do the scene, Duncan grabbed at Hanks' crotch and was shocked because Hanks had put an empty water bottle in his pants. After that, Duncan felt more comfortable with the scene.
We are never actually told why Arlen Bitterbuck and Edward Delacroix were sentenced to death throughout the film. According to the novel on which the movie is based, Delacroix is an arsonist, rapist and murderer, while Bitterbuck murdered a man in an argument over a pair of boots.
When Melinda Moores (Patricia Clarkson) is visited by John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), she gives him a St. Christopher medal. In Catholicism, St. Christopher is known as the patron saint of travelers (John Coffey describes himself as a wanderer), and, like Coffey, died a martyr.
The plot unfolds in the form of Paul telling Elaine the story of the Green Mile. In the book, Paul writes his story down in the form of a novel. At the end of the film, as Paul leaves the cemetery after Elaine's burial, a tombstone can be seen behind him that reads "Greene", and two others, one in the foreground and one to the right of the screen, that read "Story".
Michael Jeter taught himself how to say "The Lord's Prayer" in Creole to add authenticity to his character's Cajun heritage. You can hear him quietly reciting it during Del's execution scene, as the dry sponge is being applied to his head.
In Doctor Sleep, Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, Danny Torrance has taken up drinking to dampen his psychic power and when he senses someone is dying, the Shining makes it appear like flies, similar to what comes out of John Coffey's mouth when he heals people (in Doctor Sleep, Danny even gets Percy's line "Dead man walking"). In Doctor Sleep, flies also symbolize something bad about to happen to someone, like Percy before he gets institutionalized.