In order to secure his role, Richard Harris arranged a meeting with Writer and Director Jim Sheridan, and turned up in full costume and in character. Sheridan, who was initially reluctant to cast Harris because of his difficult reputation, decided to cast him based on this meeting.
Eamon Keane, who played Dan Paddy Andy (Matchmaker) in this movie, was John B. Keane's brother. Keane was the man who wrote the source stage play "The Field" (1965), which was eventually made into this movie.
Ray McAnally was originally cast as "The Bull", but his sudden death forced Writer and Director Jim Sheridan to re-cast his leading man. Richard Harris was considered for the role of the Priest, and persuaded Sheridan to trust him in the lead role. Harris' career had been in the doldrums for ages, but his towering performance here earned him his first Oscar nomination since 1962, and gave his movie work a huge resurgence.
Final Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Richard Harris. Harris never won an Oscar, his first Oscar nomination had been also for the Best Actor in a Leading Role category for This Sporting Life (1963).
First movie of Writer and Director Jim Sheridan after his dual Oscar winning My Left Foot (1989), which had been nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium. It won Oscars for Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Brenda Fricker), the latter of whom also appeared in this movie.
An image from this movie featured on an Irish thirty-two pence stamp in 1996, for the celebration of the commemoration of the Centenary of Irish Cinema. The stamp featured Sean Bean, Sir John Hurt, and Richard Harris in the Irish setting of Killary Harbour in Ireland.
The play was first performed in 1965, it being based on a story from six years earlier, with the play published in book form in 1966, with a revised version twenty-one years later, with changes, and this movie version following three years after the play revision.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to wikipedia.com, "John B. Keane based the story on the 1959 murder of Moss Moore, a bachelor farmer living in Reamore, County Kerry. Dan Foley, a neighbor with whom Moore had a long-running dispute, was suspected of the murder, but the charges were denied by Foley's family."