In the DVD commentary, Jack Nicholson stated that Director Michelangelo Antonioni constructed the entire hotel, so that the final shot could be accomplished, though he suggests that the entire hotel was built on hinges, instead of simply the bars outside the window. This assertion is incorrect, as production photos and several books testify. The shot was made by opening the bars which were on hinges and allowing the camera to pass through and be picked up outside. What also attracted Antonioni to this building is, that it used to be a church, and was across the street from a bullfight ring.
Michelangelo Antonioni claimed never to be entirely satisfied with any of his films. He hated the cuts that MGM imposed on his film, but felt that the full version of this movie would have come close to satisfying his high standards. At one point, he tried to have his name removed from the credits.
Wanting to protect a piece of art that he loved, Jack Nicholson bought the rights to the film shortly after its release, and kept it out of circulation for many years. In 2003, he entered into negotiations with Sony to re-release the film.
According to Director Bernardo Bertolucci: "Michelangelo Antonioni, a great director, had to wait six years after 'The Passenger' to find the money to do a movie. Someone like Antonioni shouldn't be unemployed for six years."
Maria Schneider was suffering from excruciating back pain during filming, and would often be in a medicated muddle towards the end of the day when her pain medications kicked in. In one scene, Jack Nicholson had to physically prop her up.
The entire movie is supposed to have taken place in just one day, this is the reason that the film has no nighttime scenes. Michelangelo Antonioni mentioned the fact in a 1986 interview, where he said "Actually, the entire story takes place in a short period of one day, from early morning until some time before sunset."
The book lying in the floor beside the body of the real Mr. Robertson, is "The Soul Of The Ape" by Eugène N. Marais. The book is non-fiction, and is about Marais' time living in the wild Northern Transvaal for three years at close quarters with a troop of chacma baboons in the early 1900s.
Jack Nicholson has said publicly that "The Passenger " is among his most favorite of his own films. Nicholson actually acquired the rights to the film from MGM (in compensation for a film project that fell through), and he was the principal figure behind the film getting a DVD release.
The MGM lion, which normally precedes the opening credits of MGM movies, has been supplanted by "BEGINNING OUR NEXT 50 YEARS". The lion then returns in the center with "GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY" on either side of it.