1. There are various bill boards throughout the movie that contain quotes from other William Shakespeare plays: - 'Shoot forth thunder' (the gun advert) is from 'The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth', Act IV, Scene I, Line 109. - 'Experience is by industry achiev'd' (in the Capulet lift) is from 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona', Act I, Scene III, Line 25. - 'Such stuff as dreams are made on' (another advert) is from 'The Tempest', Act IV, Scene I, Lines 168-169. Prospero (the name of the drink in the advert) is the player who says these lines. At the gas station, one of the Montague boys recites the Macbeth witches' chant to the nun and two passing students. The pool hall is called "Globe," after the Globe Theatre in London where these plays were first performed.
2. A number of moments involve water. When we first see Juliet, she is holding her head under water; when Romeo and Juliet first see each other, it's through a fish tank; the balcony scene is moved from a balcony to a swimming pool; Mercutio is killed at the beach; when Tybalt is shot, he falls into a pond; when the banished Romeo comes to Juliet's room he is drenched from the pouring rain, and when he leaves the next morning he falls into the pool again
3. The majority of sets were built from scratch in order to achieve the film's unique look. The Sycamore Grove theatre and huts on Verona Beach were actually destroyed by a hurricane during filming. The beginning of the hurricane is evident during Mercutio's death scene, and many pick up shots had to be filmed elsewhere.
4. Claire Danes wears a wig throughout the movie and also had a special aquatic wig for her underwater scenes. She was only three years older than the character she played. It was her first ever experience of performing Shakespeare. Claire’s first day on set filming with Leonardo DiCaprio was the topless scene after Romeo and Juliet have first spent the night together.
5. The film runs for exactly two hours, in line with the prologue which states: "Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage".
6. The music playing as Juliet shoots herself at the end of the film is Isolde's 'Liebestod' from Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde (1974), where it is used in the exact same context. '
7. All the guns in the film are named after types of swords. The handguns belonging to Benvolio (SWORD 9mm Series S), Mercutio (DAGGER 9mm) and Tybalt (RAPIER 9mm) are Taurus PT92 or PT99 9mm Parabellum pistols. The handguns used by Romeo, Sampson and Gregory (DAGGER .45s) are Colt M-1911 Combat Commander .45 caliber pistols. The other handguns used by Abra and Petruchio are Beretta 92FS 9mm Pistols. Ted Montague's "Longsword" is actually a South African MAG-7 shotgun.
8. Leonardo DiCaprio's version of Romeo's speech at Juliet's bier was so good it moved Claire Danes to tears, nearly ruining the scene. The moment the director yelled "cut!," Danes smacked DiCaprio on the arm and said, "Don't make me cry. I'm supposed to be comatose, here!"
9. Leonardo DiCaprio was Baz Luhrmann's first choice to play Romeo.
10. In Baz Luhrmann's native Australia, the soundtrack was the second highest selling album of the year, going platinum five times.
11. The Jesus statue that dominates Verona was actually a visual effect. In reality, it was 2 feet high.
12. The opening gas station encounter took 7 days to film with 2 days of pick-ups in Vera Cruz.
13. Cinematographer Donald McAlpine was faced with a real problem with the meet-cute scene between Romeo and Juliet at the fish tank - the reflections of the water and the glass of the tank were almost impossible to light without causing all sorts of untoward reflections. McAlpine solved the problem by inserting a couple of fluorescent tubes into the tank out of the camera's eyeline and were the sole source of light in the scene.
14. Romeo and Juliet first kiss which takes place in a cramped elevator with the camera dizzyingly swirling around them was achieved by making the elevator into sections and putting the camera on a circular dolly. As it spun round, stage hands would lift and very hurriedly replace the elevator panels to accommodate the bulky camera equipment.