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.
In actuality, Michael Clarke Duncan is of a similar height as his co-star David Morse and is a couple 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.
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 22 years, from 1982 until 2004.
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 didn't have a clue how the story would end.
Harry Dean Stanton appears in the film. There is a character named Harry, and another named Dean Stanton. This is merely a happy coincidence since the characters' names existed in the book long before Harry Dean Stanton was cast in the movie.
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's his Green Mile.
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.
Doug Hutchison (Percy) was given, according to the director, the squeakiest shoes he'd 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 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. He retired in May 2005.
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.
While many of Stephen King's novels are set in the author's native Maine, The Green Mile takes place in Louisiana. However, the surname of the main character - Edgecomb - is the name of a town on Maine's mid-coast.
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".
According to the novel by Stephen King, Percy Wetmore is supposed to be 21. During production, Doug Hutchison (Percy) was 39 years old. He told the director he was in his early/mid 30s. When he went to audition for The Salton Sea (2002), the director told him he was 'too young,' resulting in Hutchison having to show him his drivers license which proved his age.
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 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.
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.