This movie is full of drama and makes you feel every emotion possible.
It’s sometimes funny, and sometimes straight-up brutal. In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about The Green Mile.
1. It’s based on a novel by Stephen King
Back in 1996, Stephen King released a serial novel of the same name as the movie, The Green Mile. It was first published in 6 editions before being turned into a single-volume book.
The 6 volumes were released as follows:
- The Two Dead Girls – March 28, 1996
- The Mouse On The Mile – April 25, 1996
- Coffey’s Hands – May 30, 1996
- The Bad Death of Edward Delacroix – June 27, 1996
- Night Journey – July 25, 1996
- Coffey On The Mile – August 29, 1996
2. It’s not his first novel that was turned into a movie
Stephen King is one of the most famous writers of all time, and part of this fame is because his novels are frequently turned into movies.
In fact, out of the 60 novels he has to his name, at least 50 have been adapted for the screen, and some even multiple times!
It’s fair to assume that whenever Stephen King publishes a new novel, movie directors are lining up to purchase the rights.
3. Frank Darabont had used King’s work before
It was not the first time that director Frank Darabont used Stephen King’s work to create a movie.
He has done so initially with “The Women in the Room,” (1984) and eventually with the best-rated movie of all time on IMDB, “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994).
An interesting fact about the Shawshank Redemption: Frank Darabont was able to acquire the rights for the script for just $5,000, was offered $3 million by Rob Reiner but refused it and decided to direct the movie himself.
4. He pulled it off again
After being able to acquire the rights to turn The Green Mile novel into a movie, Frank Darabont got busy with creating the movie script.
One of the most interesting facts about The Green Mile is that, just as with The Shawshank Redemption, he only needed 8 weeks to do so!
5. Stephen King praised the movie
Stephen King mentioned that The Shawshank Redemption was the best movie that was adapted from the novels that he had ever seen.
He praised The Green Mile as well in one of the featurettes on the DVD. He thought that it was the most faithful adaption of his work ever created.
6. Tom Hanks gladly accepted the role
Frank Darabont would have loved to get Tom Hanks to play the role of “Red” in his earlier movie, The Shawshank Redemption, a role that was eventually magnificently played by Morgan Freeman.
Tom Hanks was busy filming another epic movie, Forrest Gump, so he wasn’t able to accept the role.
Because of this, he gladly accepted to play the role of Paul Edgecomb in The Green Mile, which was basically a favor for being forced to turn down the previous role.
7. Stephen King was delighted with Tom Hanks
Who is better to judge who he imagines playing a character than the person who actually created the character?
The moment he knew a movie would be made about The Green Mile, Stephen King openly thought that Tom Hanks would be the perfect actor to play the role of Paul Edgecomb.
We can only imagine how happy he was when Tom Hanks agreed to the role.
8. The role nearly went to somebody else
Frank Darabont clearly had other ideas, because he actually didn’t consider Tom Hanks to play the role of Paul Edgecomb initially.
He offered the role to John Travolta, one of the main stars in another epic movie, Pulp Fiction.
He refused it, something he clearly regrets and sees as a lost opportunity. After all, The Green Mile is an all-time classic so he’s most definitely right.
9. The movie’s psychopath was almost somebody else
Josh Brolin auditioned for the role of the movie’s coldhearted, “Billy the Kid” tattoed and straight-up evil psychopath named “Wild Bill” Wharton.
He was in pole position for the role, until another actor auditioned, Sam Rockwell, who not just ended up getting the role but who also did a terrific job at it as well.
10. Who on earth will play John Coffey?
That’s most certainly what the movie makers asked themself while scratching their heads.
One of the most crucial roles in the entire movie is a huge man, who towers above everybody else, but who at the same time possesses healing powers and has an extremely timid and gentle demeanor.
That sounds like a tough job to find somebody suited for this role, right?
The late Michael Clarke Duncan and the casting staff had nobody else than Bruce Willis to thank as he is the one who suggested him for the role after the two appeared together in “Armageddon.”
11. The date of the setting was changed
In the novel by Stephen King, the date of the setting is 1932 but it was changed to 1935.
The reason? Because then they could avoid an anachronism and feature the movie “Top Hat,” a movie that only came out in 1935.
Here you can watch a clip of this touching scene.
12. Tom Hanks nearly played his older self
The story of the movie is told by the older version of Paul Edgecomb, who is still alive in the year 1999 because of the magical powers passed to him by John Coffey.
Obviously, playing somebody who is 108 years old is complicated, because the young version of Tom Hanks needed to be transformed into a very old man.
The make-up team wasn’t able to pull it off, and the now-late 82-year-old Dabbs Greer played the role instead.
13. How did Michael Clarke Duncan manage to be so emotional?
The Green Mile is one of the movies that make you actually feel the emotions of the characters being portrayed. And nobody pulled it off better than Michael Clarke Duncan, who plays the hyper-emotional gentle-giant who is accused of a terrible crime.
So how did he pull it off? Apparently, during every emotional scene, he thought about his father leaving him as a child, something which clearly still moved him to tears during the filming of the movie.
14. There were a lot of Mr. Jingles
A total of between 15 and 30 specially trained mice were used to play the role of the one mouse in the movie, Mr. Jingles.
Food was used to lure them to the spot they needed to go during every scene. For some scenes, such as the one when Percy thinks he kills Mr. Jingles, CGI effects were (luckily for the mouse) used.
15. Actors saw very little of the mouse
There are many scenes in which the guards appear to be following Mr. Jingles around as he walks around the Green Mile.
It’s actually not one of the trained mice that they are watching, but a laser pointing at the floor. That obviously made things a bit less complicated to shoot those scenes
16. The prison guard costumes weren’t authentic
There is an anachronism in the movie though, and that’s related to the uniforms that the prison guards are wearing.
In the time that the movie is set, halfway through the 1930s, prison guards actually didn’t wear uniforms yet. Remarkably, in the book, which is set 3 years earlier than the movie in 1932, the prison guards wear uniforms as well.
17. Tom Hanks cried for John Coffey
Well, not for John Coffey, but for Michael Clarke Duncan when it was his last day of shooting. According to Michael Valdes, the producer, he was the soul of the cast.
The fact that he could bring Tom Hanks to tears clearly shows the impact that Michael Clarke Duncan’s performance had on the most seasoned actors in the business!
18. Michael Clarke Duncan wasn’t actually that tall
With 6’5″, you could easily claim that Michael Clarke Duncan was a tall man. But on the set of The Green Mile, he wasn’t even the tallest person around. He was an inch taller than David Morse (6 feet 4 inches) but an inch shorter than James Cromwell (6 feet 6 inches).
To make it look as if he was towering above everybody else, blocking tactics and specific camera angles were used to create this effect.
19. John Coffey’s stand-in got the job in a peculiar way
Right now, Rodney Barnes is an award-winning screenwriter and producer, known for his work on the comedy TV series “My wife and kids.”. Back in 1999, he was merely aspiring to achieve success in these fields.
He actually landed the job as a stand-in for Michael Clarke Duncan in the hopes he could meet his hero, Stephen King. To achieve this, he actually hid in a van to sneak onto the set.
Director Frank Darabont was clearly impressed by this stunt and instantly offered him the gig, showing that a little perseverance can indeed pay off.
20. Stephen King did visit the set
We can only imagine how excited Stephen King must have been during the filming of one of his best works, The Green Mile.
That’s why he visited the set frequently to get a glimpse of the action. One comment he made was that “Tom Hanks fit his role like an old shoe.”
21. He didn’t get to meet Tom Hanks on set though
One of the most interesting facts about The Green Mile is that Stephen King didn’t actually get to meet Tom Hanks, but Paul Edgecomb. Whenever Stephen King was around, Tom Hanks stayed in character.
At one point, Stephen King asked Tom Hanks if he liked to take a seat in the electric chair “Old Sparky.” Paul Edgecomb refused as he was in charge of the block at that time.
22. How did they make Percy as annoying as possible?
Percy is one of those characters that you instantly hate. To increase the level of annoyance with the viewers, a simple trick was used: Give him squeaky shoes!
Walking around on the nicely polished Green Mile, Doug Hutchison (Percy) was given the most annoying shoes imaginable. It worked flawlessly.
23. Another trick was used to make John Coffey look like a giant
Working with camera angles and using blocking tactics weren’t the only things done to make John Coffey look like a giant.
Some of the most memorable moments in the entire movie are when he gets to sleep after performing one of his miracles.
The bed he is laying in looks awfully small for a man his size, but this was done on purpose to make him look much taller than he really was.
24. Frank Darabont’s cat walked The Green Mile
When director Frank Darabont got his hands on the rights to Stephen King’s novel, he instantly started working to turn it into a movie script.
He got off to a bad start though, as he found out literally the same day that his cat had a tumor. Instead of putting it to sleep, he was comforted by the fact that his cat kept him company and referred to it as his “co-writer.”
By imagining the metaphor of his cat walking the Green Mile, he was able to connect with the characters much better and was able to finish the script in 8 weeks. His cat died shortly after it was completed.
25. How can we look more like it’s 1935?
That’s a question the actors had to ask themselves before the shooting of the movie started. The answer was pretty simple and easy to maintain: Stop doing whatever you’re doing right now!
For Michael Clarke Duncan that meant stopping his bodybuilding exercise regime and just eating normally. For Tom Hanks and his screen wife Bonnie Hunt, it meant letting themselves go a bit without caring too much about their appearance.
They succeeded as most of the crew gained multiple pounds before shooting actually started. Bonnie Hunt even jokingly remarked about the 15 pounds she gained that “it only took half an hour.”
26. The Harry Dean Stanton coincidence
One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when the routine of performing an actual execution gets tested, and actor Harry Dean Stanton, an inmate chosen as a tester gets all excited about it.
The coincidence here is that two of the guards in Stephen King’s novel are actually named Harry and Dean Stanton, played by actors Jeffrey DeMunn and Barry Pepper. A remarkable coincidence.
27. Stephen King’s movies aren’t big box-office hitters
Even the best-rated movie of all time, and the first to reach over 2 million votes on IMDB, The Shawshank Redemption, was considered a failure initially.
The Green Mile made up for this as it was the first movie derived from Stephen King’s novels that hit over $100 million at the US box office.
This success got repeated by the movie “It” in 2017.
28. It remains second in Stephen King’s top-grossing movies
The Green Mile remained the highest-grossing Stephen King movie until “It” surpassed it in 2017. It remains in a very respectable second position though in March 2020, both domestically (US) and worldwide.
below you can see the top 10 rankings in USD.
Dometic highest-grossing Stephen King films:
- It ($327.5 million)
- The Green Mile ($136.8 million)
- It: Chapter Two ($96.5 million)
- 1408 ($72 million)
- Misery ($61.3 million)
- Pet Sematary (1989) ($57.5 million)
- Pet Sematary (2019) ($54.7 million)
- Stand By Me ($52.3 million)
- The Dark Tower ($50.7 million)
- Secret Window ($48 million)
International highest-grossing Stephen King films:
- It ($700.4 million)
- The Green Mile ($286.8 million)
- It: Chapter Two ($190.5 million)
- 1408 ($132 million)
- The Dark Tower ($113.2 million)
- Pet Sematary (2019) ($112.4 million)
- Secret Window ($92.9 million)
- Carrie (2014) ($84.8 million)
- Dreamcatcher ($75.7 million)
- Misery ($61.3 million)
29. Who is Cassy, the lady in the rocking chair?
When John Coffey is outside of his prison cell he looks at the stars, he remarks: “Look, Boss, it’s Cassie, the lady in the rocking chair.”
So who is this Cassie he is referring to?
This is a reference to the constellation Cassiopeia, which got its name from Greek Mythology. Queen Cassiopeia, who was vain and often boasted about her unrivaled beauty, is often depicted as sitting in a chair.
30. It took a while before Dabbs Greer agreed to his role
It was the final appearance of the then 82-year-old Dabbs Greer, who played the role of the old Tom Hanks who starts and ends the narrative of the movie.
Greer was suffering from some health problems when Frank Darabont asked him for the role, so he reluctantly had to refuse.
Because Tom Hanks couldn’t be made to look that old, Darabont waited until Greer was fully recovered and ready to play the part of the old Paul Edgecomb.
31. This is the reason Frank Darabont absolutely wanted Greer
Frank Darabont had been a long-time fan of Dabbs Greer, who appeared in some of Darabont’s all-time favorite movies.
These movies were “It! The Terror from Beyond Space” (1958), and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956).
32. The electric chair is a serious anachronism
We already pointed out some anachronisms, such as the use of uniforms by the guards and the movie “Top Hat” which didn’t come out until the year 1935 (which is the reason the date of the setting of the movie isn’t the same as in the book), but there’s an even bigger one.
In the 1930s, the electric chair has never been used in the state of Louisiana. Only the gallows were used back then until the early 1940s when they were replaced with the more “humane” electric chair.
33. Stephen made absolutely sure there was a death sentence
Some people have been claiming that the movie was a racial allegory. There is no doubt in Stephen King’s mind that it wasn’t though as he had a pretty solid explanation as to why he made John Coffey a black man.
Considering the time the story takes place, the location it takes place and the crime that was committed, it was only logical that a death sentence would have followed after John Coffey was found guilty.
34. Spike Lee didn’t like the John Coffey Character
And that’s putting it euphemistically.
We know he’s always outspoken about the depiction of African American men and women, and he uttered his opinion in full voice in one of his interviews.
he didn’t deny that Michael Clarke Duncan gave a good performance though, but amongst many other things, thought his Academy Award nomination was only given “for the Academy to feel liberal.”
35. Doug Hutchison lied to director Frank Darabont about his age
Doug Hutchison wanted to play the role of Percy Wetmore when he went for auditioning. Frank Darabont, however, initially thought that Barry Pepper was best suited for the role.
What makes this remarkable is that Percy, in Stephen King’s book, is only 21 years old. Doug Hutchison at the time he went to audition was already 39.
His solution? He told Darabont he was in his early 30s, which eventually helped him to get the role.
36. The movie was shot at these locations
The Green Mile was shot at Warner Hollywood Studios, West Hollywood, California, and on location in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
While E-block was actually a giant movie set shot in the studios, some scenes were also shot in the old Tennessee State Prison near downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
The prison was opened in 1898 but had been closed since 1992 due to overcrowding problems.
37. The old Tennessee State Prison suffered major damage
Over two decades after the Green Mile was shot at the old Tennessee State Prison, it was severely damaged by a tornado in early March 2020.
The abandoned facility was basically left in ruins by the powerful tornado which also caused significant damage in other parts of Nashville, Tennessee.
38. Tom Hanks is the embodiment of awesomeness
This is universally agreed on by anybody who ever met the great man, and the people that worked with him on The Green Mile won’t contradict this.
He not only invited everybody out for dinner every Friday night for the duration of the shooting, but he also went all-in with his performance, which is emphasized by a remarkable anecdote.
When Tom Hanks was invited to place his handprints in the cement outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard during the shoot, he didn’t suspend it. He actually ran to the event during the lunch break to do the job and collect his award and ran back to ensure he was on time for the next scene.
That’s true dedication and shows he clearly doesn’t feel he’s above anybody else by getting fancy awards.
39. The movie had a great reception, except for this
Critics will always complain about something, that’s their job. With the Green Mile, even though the overall response was very positive, it was its long runtime. At 188 minutes, it’s indeed a very long movie.
But then again, how can you capture the entire story of a 600-page+ novel with multiple in-depth characters, right?
Tom Hanks had the perfect answer for these nay-sayers:
Hey, it’s more movie for your dollar! It’s like an extra inning. Wow! Now you can get a whole evening of entertainment!Tom Hanks’ response to critics complaining about The Green Mile’s runtime
40. The movie received 4 Academy Award nominations
Even though The Green Mile didn’t win any Academy Award in 2000, it was still nominated for 4 awards:
- Best supporting actor – Michael Clarke Duncan
- Best picture – Frank Darabont and David Valdes
- Best sound – Robert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson, Michael Herbick, Willie D. Burton
- Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published – Frank Darabont