The film was originally written with the intention that Jeff Bridges would play Jack and Ellen DeGeneres would play Annie. DeGeneres was initially chosen because the role of Annie was going to be a comedic role opposite the serious role of Jack.
Jack`s sidekick, Harry, was originally to be played by Ed Harris and in this version was going to be revealed as the mad bomber. However, when Ed Harris opted out, and Jeff Daniels signed, the producers felt that the audience would not accept the sudden twist in character so Harry was kept as a good guy throughout and the mad bomber written as a separate character.
Halle Berry turned down the role of Annie.
Various actors were offered the role of Jack and reportedly turned it down: George Clooney, Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin, Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Keaton, Tom Cruise, Jeff Bridges, and Tom Hanks.
Script doctor Joss Whedon rewrote the script uncredited.
The birds flying through the gap in the freeway were digitally added special effects.
Thirteen buses were used, including two which exploded, one for the freeway jump, one for high-speed scenes and one used solely for `under bus` shots.
The bus jump scene was done twice, as the bus landed too smoothly the first time. The bridge was actually there, but erased digitally.
Filmed on location on LA`s 105 freeway before it was opened to the public.
The 1/8 scale subway cars used for the station crash in the finale are later used in the film The Ice Storm (1997).
The freight plane blown up at the end of the film has the company logo "Pacific Courier" painted on its side. This same logo appeared on the terrorist`s van in Die Hard (1988) and is an in-joke of production designer Jackson De Govia.
Paramount optioned the script first, in 1992, but did not proceed with it.
One of the buses used in the filming of Speed has appeared in more than 60 films and commercials, as well as the music video for the Tracy Chapman song "Telling Stories".
Voted one of AFI`s Top 100 Heart-Pounding Movies of all time: number 99.
According to script doctor Joss Whedon, the Alan Ruck character (Stephens) was originally written as an abrasive lawyer, who gets his comeuppance in an unexpected death scene. Whedon re-wrote him as the sympathetic, dull-witted tourist of the final version, but kept the death scene, intending to give it more emotional impact. His character changes were kept, but the death was written out.
Glenn Plummer`s driver`s license was taken away two days before his scene was scheduled to be filmed.
Keanu Reeves breaking the glass on the bus door in the beginning of the movie was an accident, however it was left in the final cut.
The shot when the bus enters LAX and a plane is seen taking off right behind it, took more than 50 takes.
In early drafts of the script, the bus was supposed to circle around the parking lot of Dodgers Stadium as opposed to LAX. However, the studio couldn`t get the rights to film there.
The advert on the back of the bus reads "Money isn`t everything. Yeah, right!"
The film literally ran out of money before it was completed. When the film was first previewed for an audience, the subway scenes were animated story boards. The audience loved them so much, the studio came up with the funds to shoot the scenes properly.
The number plate of the bus `2525` was California 539724
The police helicopter used by the Captain (or Lieutenant) in the movie, N599DB, spent several years thereafter in operation as C-FCPS, Calgary, Alberta, Canada`s police helicopter "HAWC 1". It was retired and sold to a private citizen in late 2006.
Jack`s registration plate is `646 TEZ`. `Tez` means speed in Hindi.
Jack (Keanu Reeves) calls Ortiz (Carlos Carrasco) "Gigantor". That is a reference to the animated series, "Gigantor" (1964).
Some of the shots of the subway train as it runs off the rails are of a miniature model.
The 105 freeway in California had recently been completed, but not opened at the time of production. The filmmakers were given all the time they needed to complete the freeway scenes without the hassle of closing down an operating major freeway.
There was originally a scene called "Officer Baker`s failed rescue" in which a bomb squad officer called Baker was going to be lowered onto the bus from a helicopter only to have to pull up when a bridge gets in the way, where he meets an unfortunate end. This scene storyboard can be found on the special edition DVD complete with optional commentary by Director Jan de Bont.
When Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) says "Be prepared. That`s the Boy Scouts` marching song", he is quoting the opening line to "Be Prepared", a song by Tom Lehrer.
Director Jan de Bont came up with the idea for the opening elevator sequence while working as a cinematographer on Die Hard (1988). While riding in an elevator in the building used as the skyscr*per in that film, the elevator got stuck on the 40th floor, and de Bont had to climb out the escape hatch and jump onto another elevator to get out.
In the screenplay, Howard Payne`s name was Howard Fisk.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is playing at Grauman`s Chinese Theater near where the subway train stops on Hollywood Blvd.
Quentin Tarantino was originally offered the chance to direct, but turned it down.
Renny Harlin was offered to direct this film, but turned it down.
Amidst all the destruction in this movie, only 7 characters actually die.
Although the film is set in LA, the bus used in the production actually comes from Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. The city of LA had to exchange one of their buses and it is still there today being used as a part of the normal Orangeville metro system
The plane cost $80,000.
The watch Jack was wearing had been discontinued. After this film, the company started making them again as they were suddenly in demand.
The black helicopter used by Mac was a NoTar helicopter. NoTar means the helicopter didn`t have a tail rotor.
Before filming began on the freeway with the gap in it, all the lines and signage had to be put in and taken out on a regular basis before and during filming. Filming took places for around two and a half weeks.
When the police were looking at police mugshots, the first photograph was of David MacMillan, who is a sound mixer on the film.
Michael J. Coo is a key grip on this movie, and is the cop in the second photograph of police mugshots. The name on the file reads Michael Coo.
Filming at the airport took around three weeks. Was made slightly difficult when a plane`s engine was being tested and it was extremely noisy.
There was an instance where a schoolboy saved the lives of a schoolbus full of kids, when the driver had a heart attack, by climbing on to the driver`s lap, jumping on the brake pedal and pulling the bus to the side of the road. When asked later why he did it, he told them that he had seen "that bus movie". At half time during an NFL game, there was a ceremony hailing the boy as a hero.
There is a picture of an ocean wave on the side of the bus, more noticeably when the bus is circling the airport. That photograph was taken by Jan de Bont, for a campaign that was done for the American oceans, "Heal the Bay".
Line producer Ian Bryce was driving the towing vehicle, which was towing the large airplane at the airport.
A "deleted scene" sees Jack shooting Howard Payne in the neck, just after he`d shot his partner in the leg at the beginning of the film. Later in the film, you can see the oval scar on Payne`s neck caused by the deleted shooting.
The script was pitched to Paramount Studios, which placed the movie on turnaround and suggested to writer Graham Yost that his script, which called for the movie to end after everyone gets off the bus, had "too much bus" in it, implying audiences would not go for a movie in which a bus is driving around for two hours. Yost then added the subway scenes, and the modified script was presented to Fox Studios, which agreed to film the movie.
Writer Graham Yost named the main character Jack Traven after B. Traven, writer of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
A Fox producer realized they might have a movie hit in their hands when he noticed that, during test screenings, audience members would walk backwards when they needed to go to the bathroom so they would miss as little as possible.