Simon uses a Nokia 9000 Communicator cell phone. This phone was very cutting-edge when it was introduced in 1996, as it functioned as both a handheld phone and a clamshell pocket computer, complete with a mini-QWERTY keyboard, and several built-in apps.
In the original version of the film, Dr. Russell collapses while giving a lecture and dies in The Saint's arms. The Saint sees Tretiak, Jr. stabbing her in the leg with the tip of his cane. Thus the final half-hour has him set to destroy the villains' plans and avenge her death. With Dr. Botvin's help, he switches the formulas around and humiliates Tretiak during his show trial of the Russian president. The Saint battles Dr. Russell's killer on a stairwell as Russian tanks pound outside, exposing and setting fire to the vast stockpile of heating oil in the basement. With the stairwell disintegrating around them, the fight spills out on to the chandelier, suspended above the blazing oil. The Saint teases Treatiak, Jr. with the disc containing the formula for cold fusion. As he reaches out for it, The Saint cuts the rope and Tretiak, Jr. plummets to a fiery death. Returning to Dr. Russell's home, the Saint finds a letter from her, a tear fills his eye and he vows from now on to use his skills only for good. Test audiences didn't like the way Dr. Russell died three-quarters of the way into the film. Footage from the original ending features prominently in the film's primary trailer. Director Phillip Noyce hopes one day to be able to restore the original version for a Director's Cut DVD.
While filming in Oxford, England, the producers had the Bodleian Library (the main library of The University of Oxford) closed to the public for several days. This caused much complaint in the University, as a large proportion of the students were studying for exams.
First big-screen Saint film since the 1950s. Plans for a Saint film date back to the 1980s, when Pierce Brosnan was reported to be a leading contender for the Templar role in a Saint movie that was to be produced by Sir Roger Moore. This project never materialized.
When Simon Templar is disguised as a long-haired artist, his accent is a passable imitation South African, specifically Capetonian. He refers to his "home in Africa" and uses the vernacular Afrikaans pronunciation of Jesus ("Yissus!") as an expletive. Kilmer learned the accent from a South African assistant with whom he worked on The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), the movie he completed before he started filming this movie. It is interesting to note that in the short story "The Man Who Was Clever", someone does describe the Saint as South African. However, since the Saint has resorted to deception in the past to achieve his goals, the reliability of this information remains questionable.
This film uses the classic "Saint" theme tune that, though often thought of as starting with the 1960s television show, actually began in the 1930s and 1940s RKO Saint films, and appeared in the radio show with Vincent Price. This theme tune, having appeared in numerous post 1960s television adaptations of the Saint, serves as one of the most frequently and longest lasting theme tunes of a media franchise.
The name of the production buyer, John Lanzer, appears as the author of the book, "The Knights of Templar - Their Crowning Crusade", which Simon is reading in secret at the beginning of the movie during class at the orphanage.
Paramount Pictures' attempt to make the film with Robert Evans as Producer, Steven Zaillian as Writer, and Sydney Pollack as Director. Ralph Fiennes was offered one million dollars for the lead, but eventually passed. In a 1994 interview for Premiere magazine, Fiennes said the screenplay, racing fast cars, breaking into Swiss banks, was nothing he hadn't seen before.
A May 1996 Entertainment Weekly set report, cited Val Kilmer as being volatile on-set, missing call times, and putting out a lit cigarette in a crew member's face. Elisabeth Shue and Producer Mace Neufeld denied Kilmer's misconduct, praising his professionalism and dedication, eventually working seven days a week during re-shoots three months before the film's release.
In his autobiography, Roger Moore recalled meeting Val Kilmer at a Cannes Film Festival after the film came out. Kilmer said of the film, "Boy, we really messed that up, didn't we?" When Moore asked what he meant, Kilmer replied, "Well, after we finished filming, I went and read the stories. Those were some damn good stories". Moore didn't argue with Kilmer.
While the uses of the Nokia phone might seem like a case of product placement, its use in the movie was accidental. Phillip Noyce was talking to a technician working on the movie, when he noticed the flip phone with the attached keyboard. He thought it was a movie prop created for the movie, and when the technician said it was a real phone, Noyce decided it the phone Templar would use.
For the climatic riot scene, actual newsreel footage from similar protest rallies were intermixed with the new footage they shot. In order to make the new and the old look alike, the new footage had to be degraded in quality, to more closely match the old television footage.
Jonathan Hensleigh's draft cast Simon Templar as a mercenary hired by a billionaire Russian oil and gas tycoon to steal the secret of cold fusion from an eccentric but beautiful American scientist. The story would take place in Washington, D.C., Upstate New York, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Setpieces included Dr. Russell skydiving while strapped into a wheelchair and a plane landing in Red Square. Darwin Mayflower described it as one of the top unproduced screenplays.
On May 29, 1991 Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat wrote that Finnish Director Renny Harlin had signed a contract with Paramount to direct the new film adaptation of The Saint, with Robert Evans producing.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
At the end, when Simon Templar is driving and listening to the radio news announcer state that three billion dollars was donated to the American Red Cross and other charities, the reflection of sunlight in the windshield creates a halo around Simon's head.