While a guest in 2010 on the "WTF with Mark Maron" podcast, Robin Williams said that it was being isolated and cold on the Alaska set of this movie that contributed to his return to drinking after 20 years of sobriety.
James Woods turned down the role of Raymond Barnell after assurances could not be made that adequate medical facilities were available in Skagway, Alaska, where portions of the film would be shot. Woods had recently suffered heart problems and was concerned that should further problems arise, he would not have suitable medical care. Woody Harrelson was later cast in the role.
While filming in Winnipeg, the set dressers had an unusual problem. They had spent an entire day covering a location in fake snow for a scene when mother nature decided to dump 30 cm (12 inches) of the real stuff in a rare May snow storm.
To prepare for the role as a woman with Tourette's syndrome, Holly Hunter traveled to the small town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia in Canada to meet with Dr. B. Duncan McKinlay, a Psychologist with Tourette's syndrome presenting for two days in the area. Ms Hunter sat through both days of Dr. McKinlay's presentation, disguising herself in a hat and dark glasses so that the many local parents and educators she was sitting amongst would not realize they were in fact sharing the room with an Academy Award winning actress.