The scene where Kimble is running through the St. Patrick's Day parade was not scripted. This was a later addition by Andrew Davis. Davis, a native of the city, really wanted to capture the parade and was granted permission from the mayor's office to film the day of the parade. The entire sequence was shot with a hand held steady cam. Without rehearsal, Ford and Jones just went out into the crowd and did their thing, with camera operators running around trying to keep up. Ford observed that since his character was keeping a low profile, it meant he himself didn't stand out much and lasted several minutes in the crowd before being recognized.
Harrison Ford damaged some ligaments in his leg during the filming of the scenes in the woods. He refused to take surgery until the end of filming so that his character would keep the limp. The limp can be seen in any subsequent scene where Richard Kimble is running.
According to producer Roy Huggins, Gerard's line in response to Richard Kimble's claim of innocence ("I didn't kill my wife") was originally written as "That isn't my problem." At the request of Tommy Lee Jones, it was changed to "I don't care."
Originally, Julianne Moore's character had a bigger role in the film, even after she exposes him briefly. Kimble was to have sought her out for help and eventually fall for her. These scenes were filmed and deleted from the final cut of the film. This is the reason that her name is still credited as one of the main stars of the picture.
Kimble's apartment is modeled after that of an actual doctor Harrison Ford and Andrew Davis met in a Chicago bar shortly before filming. Ford felt that the doctor, somewhat eccentric and reclusive, was exactly how he wanted to portray Kimble and sent the art department to see his apartment. The doctor was also treated to a drink by Ford.
To date, the only remake of a regular television series to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Earlier winner Marty (1955) was a remake of a television movie. Later nominee Traffic (2000) was adapted from a television miniseries.
Tommy Lee Jones reportedly told Joe Pantoliano, "It's not like anyone is going to win any awards for this film." However, Tommy Lee Jones won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for this film.
Harrison Ford was the first actor to sign onto the film in September 1992 and personally agreed with Andrew Davis directing the film after seeing Under Siege (1992), and being very impressed with the results.
Alec Baldwin was first choice to play Dr. Richard Kimble. When he dropped out, Andy Garcia was considered for the role, but later worked with Andrew Davis on Steal Big Steal Little (1995). Harrison Ford had previously played a role that was first offered to Baldwin, in Patriot Games (1992), which happened to be the role of Jack Ryan.
Richard Kimble was played by David Janssen in the original television series The Fugitive (1963). His mother, Berniece Janssen, is an extra in the courtroom scene. You can spot her behind Harrison Ford's head while they play the 911 call, and when he is declared guilty. She is whispering with another woman.
Richard Jordan, who was originally cast as Dr. Nichols, actually filmed some scenes with Harrison Ford before he became ill and had to drop out of the picture. These scenes had to be re-shot with Jeroen Krabbé. If you look closely at Krabbé's first scene, Ford's beard looks different because he had to regrow it for the re-shoot.
Andrew Davis only had one chance to crash the train in the train scene and had to get it right, so he consulted an array of engineers, stunt doubles and the insurance company to predict what would happen. The train was expected to crash into the bus at 35 miles per hour, but the director was in error - the train came at 42 miles per hour. Nevertheless, the scene went exactly as planned.
The character of Cosmo Renfro was supposed to die in the finale of the film. However, Joe Pantoliano successfully lobbied for his character to be spared so that he may appear in a potential sequel. Pantoliano indeed got to reprise the role of Renfro in the sequel U.S. Marshals (1998). A similar request by Sela Ward to have her character beaten into a coma instead of being killed, however, was not honored.
Dr. Kathy Waylund (played by Jane Lynch) was considered as a love interest for Richard Kimble during production. However, their relation remained platonic, as it would have looked bad for Dr. Kimble to take a new lover while avenging the death of his wife. In addition, it was thought the love scenes would have added considerable length to the film and may have ruined the pacing and tension of the story at that juncture.
The train scenes were filmed in Dillsboro, North Carolina. The engine used (which was not destroyed) now pulls a dinner train. During a ride on that train, props from the making of the film can be seen, including the prison bus and the shell of the engine that crashed into the bus. Dillsboro is next to the town of Sylva, where the local hospital was used for filming the hospital scenes in the beginning of the film and the ambulance get-away.
The picture of Richard Kimble on the composite from medical school is actually Harrison Ford's yearbook picture from Ripon College. He almost graduated in 1964, nine years before the picture was said to have been taken.
It proved to be cheaper to use full size locomotives, at around 20,000 dollars each, rather than creating the crash scene using miniatures. As the budget was quite tight, it was impossible to rehearse this key scene, and it was a one-shot deal.
The studio and the producers were extremely happy with Andrew Davis's cut of the film (before he edited it down to its final running time of 2:11) and told him "It's perfect - don't touch a thing." Davis still made another 1,600 edits to the film for pacing, tightening up scenes that needed to be stronger.
A destination indicator on an EL train reads "Kimball" and the next shot tracks over a building that has a sign reading "Harrison" (These are two actual Chicago locations; in addition, there are both subway and EL stops on a Harrison Street).
During the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the smiling black man in the hat is Roland Burris, then Attorney General of Illinois, who later became the Junior Senator from Illinois, filling the seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
In the final bit of comedian John Mulaney's stand-up special "The Comeback Kid," he frequently breaks from the story he is telling in order to also explain the finale of "The Fugitive," as the story took place in the same location the scene was shot.
The young boy Kimble treats at Cook County Hospital is played by Joel Robinson. His real name is used in the film, as Kimble refers to him as "Joel," and his full name can briefly be seen when Kimble inspects his chart.
During flashbacks to the fund raiser early in the film, a sign for the pharmaceutical company Devlin McGregor mentions their work in pediatric care. In the original The Fugitive (1963), Dr. Kimble had been a pediatrician.
Michael Douglas was considered for the role of Richard Kimble in the film's early pre-production stages. He worked on Falling Down (1993), which was produced by Arnold Kopelson and scored by James Newton Howard as well. He also worked with Andrew Davis and Arnold Kopelson on A Perfect Murder (1998).
Andrew Davis shot a lot of material during production. With a tight deadline between filming, editing, and release, six editors were hired to quickly assemble all the footage that was shot. To speed up the process, Davis and his team used an AVID editing machine to piece together the film. There were two machines used with three editors at each one, under the supervision of Davis.
An earlier script featured an ending where Kimble was fleeing on a train and Gerard jumps a car onto the tracks and chases after him. When Andrew Davis came aboard the idea was scrapped as it would have skyrocketed the budget and gone against his mandate of trying to keep things "real".
Kimble tells Gerard he is in St. Louis, on the phone at an El station. When Renfro is discussing the El train with Sam Gerard and colleagues, he states that St. Louis doesn't have an El. This movie was released one week after St. Louis' light rail system, the MetroLink, first began operation. However, the St. Louis train is not elevated.
Ron Dean later appeared in The Dark Knight (2008). Both films won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for Tommy Lee Jones and Heath Ledger. Both of their characters were based on characters inspired by Victor Hugo. Gerard was based on Inspector Javert from Les Misérables, the Joker on Gwynplaine from The Man Who Laughs (1928).
Harrison Ford's name is slipped into the background of the movie in two different scenes. As Gerard arrives at the train crash at 20:23, you can see a Ford truck in the background. At 1:01:24 there is an aerial shot of the Harrison Hotel. Harrison Ford, of course, is the star of the Fugitive.
This movie shares many actors with Chain Reaction(1996), with both being filmed(in part) in Chicago, IL; Joseph F. Kosala, Ron Dean, Turk Muller, Neil Flynn, Allen Hamilton, Joan Kohn, Joe Guastaferro, Ken Moreno, Eddie Bo Smith, Jr., Danny Goldring, Michael Skewes, John Lee Davenport, Afram Bill Williams, Ann Whitney, Pam Zekman, Juan Ramírez, Miguel Nino, John Drummond, Gene Barge, Dick Cusack, and Nicholas Kusenko. Many of them play similar roles in both movies, most notably the two detectives(Joseph F. Kosala and Ron Dean), and Neil Flynn, who plays a law enforcement officer, and is shot, in both films.
When Gerard announces to Sheriff Rawlins that he's taking over the investigation, Rawlins sarcastically calls Gerard "Wyatt Earp". The famed gunfighter and lawman was appointed a Deputy U.S. Marshal after the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Gene Hackman was offered the role of Sam Gerard, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Hackman and Jones co-starred in The Package (1989), also directed by Andrew Davis, and was also a conspiracy thriller set in Chicago with the musical score composed by James newton Howard who composed for this film.
After the train wreck, the local sheriff is upset after Deputy U.S. Marshal Gerard assumes command of the investigation. He tells the assembled crowd that "Wyatt Earp" is taking over. The character of Sheriff Rawlins is played by Nick Searcy who later played Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen on the television series Justified (2010). Composer James Newton Howard also composed Wyatt Earp (1994), the following year.
Walter Hill and David Giler both collaborated on a script that was ready for filming in 1990 with Hill slated to direct, but the project was then put into turn around and Hill eventually dropped out of the project altogether soon after.
Nick Searcy portrayed the local sheriff who has no respect for the U.S. Marshals who show up after the train crash. He later played Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen for five seasons on the TV series Justified (2010).
Joseph F. Kosala (Detective Rosetti) was in Above the Law with Steven Segal, where he also played a Chicago police officer. Ron Dean (Detective Kelly) played one of Steven Segal's relatives in that movie.
Director Andrew Davis and cinematographer Michael Chapman have both worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Davis on Collateral Damage (2002) and Chapman on Kindergarten Cop (1990). Incidentally Davis and Chapman share a birthday; 21st November.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Before filming began and work was continuing on the script, Andrew Davis consulted his sister (a doctor) as to what Kimble would do to get himself sent to jail. Her answer was a drug protocol. This was the essential part of the plot that is revealed briefly during the opening sequences prior to the murder of Helen Kimble (Sela Ward), as Ford meets one of the pharmaceutical moguls (MacGregor) involved with the project. Devlin, the other mogul involved, is only seen in photographs. This is finally brought to light once Kimble discovers the identity of the one-armed man and eventually to his friend.
Just before Nichols attempts to open fire on Gerard, Richard assaults Nichols with a metal pipe and saves Gerard's life in the process. Such is the polar opposite of the series finale of the original television series The Fugitive (1963). In the final episode, Kimble and the one-armed man (the only villain responsible for Helen Kimble's death) were fighting in an amusement park. The one-armed man pointed a pistol at Richard only to be gunned down by Gerard just before firing. However, Richard Kimble saved Gerard's life multiple times throughout the series, before Gerard repaid the favor.
Joe Pantoliano (Cosmo Renfro) admitted in an interview on Gilbert Gottfried's podcast that he wanted to be sure his character lived in case there was a sequel and he even did additional groaning and leg movements to showcase that he survived at the end. It worked and was in the sequel, U.S. Marshals.
At the start of the film, the various flashbacks to the murder do not show the one-armed man. They leave open the possibility that the doctor is indeed guilty (unlike in the television series on which the film is based). Only after the doctor escapes do you see flashbacks confirming his version as true.
The resolution of the mystery differs from the original television series on which the film is based. In the film, it is revealed that the one-armed man was a hired assassin and that Richard himself was the target, not Helen. This was part of an elaborate conspiracy surrounding a deal with a pharmaceutical company. The final episode of the television series has a much simpler conclusion: there was never a plot behind the murder. The one-armed man was a common burglar. Although, he is revealed to have a secret ally who helped him evade the authorities for all those years that Richard tried to prove his innocence.
When Kimble calls Nichols to tell him that Devlin-McGregor is behind his wife's murder, Kimble is phoning from the lobby of the University of Chicago's science library (John Crerar Library). Crerar is known for its extensive biomedical texts collection.
The villainous characters of "Charles Nichols" and "Freddie Sykes" take their names from characters in previous films - "Charley Nichols" is also the Walter Matthau character in House Calls (1978) (another doctor), whilst "Freddie Sykes" is the Edmond O'Brien character in The Wild Bunch (1969).