The age of the iceman in the film was forty thousand years. Seven years after this film was released, a real "iceman" was discovered in the Ötztal Alps in 1991. Named 'Ötzi the Iceman', the real-life iceman had pollen found in his stomach just like the iceman in this film.
Fred Schepisi was fired by the studio and Producer Daniel Melnick, after Schepisi personally agreed to shoot "the original ending" from the original script as intended. However, Schepisi did not do this, and was immediately let go.
Bruce Smeaton's score is not what was originally intended for the film. The score in the film is mainly needle drop tracks for most scenes. The score was recorded with the one hundred thirty piece Hollywood Symphony Orchestra, and was meant to have a fuller sound. The reason for this, was because Director Fred Schepisi, who was fired, and then brought back onto the project for post-production, tampered with the film after it was locked. He'd shifted around dialogue, scenes, and such. According to Smeaton, "He'd (Schepisi) gone in and made twenty-eight minor changes to the film, just as we (Smeaton, Music Editor Jim Henrikson, and Music Engineer Dan Wallin, along with the Hollywood Symphony) were preparing to go into Glen Glenn Sound with a one hundred thirty piece orchestra. The music wasn't fitting the scenes, for which they were intended. Fred (Schepisi) never showed up." Smeaton had to then cancel the sessions and edit down his music, from what they originally had been intended. Smeaton admits to having regretted working with Schepisi and their subsequent film, Roxanne (1987) starring Steve Martin would be their last project together. Schepisi would have the late Jerry Goldsmith as his composer of choice during the 1990s.
The film opens and ends with a title card quotation from an Inuit Legend that reads: "I, who was born to die shall live. That the world of animals, and the world of men may come together, I shall live."
Director Fred Schepisi became attached to the project when Don Zimmerman contacted him. Schepisi begged Norman Jewison to let him direct the picture. During audience testing, Jewison mandated several cuts to be made, material that Schepisi wanted to keep.
Fred Schepisi has said of this film: "Iceman is a way of looking at us. There is wonder in looking at someone who is really us from the beginning. I thought this film could have been, as novelist Vladimir Nabokov observed, 'The precision of poetry, and the intuition of science.'"
One of the film's main movie posters had a long preamble that read: "HE'S 40,000 YEARS OLD. Deep within an Arctic glacier they found him, preserved by a miracle of nature, brought back to life by a miracle of science. Now medical science wants to exploit him in the name of research. One man wants to stop them...in the name of humanity. But he'll need more than a miracle to survive...he'll need a friend".