Death Wish/Fun Facts

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  • The role of Paul Kersey was originally intended for Steve McQueen, who turned it down.
  • According to writer Brian Garfield, Sidney Lumet was set to direct the film with Jack Lemmon playing the role of Paul Kersey (presumably to be more in line with the 'everyman' character in the book) and Henry Fonda as the police chief. After Lumet chose to direct Serpico (1973) instead both Lemmon and Fonda dropped out of the movie. At one point the movie was also set to be directed entirely in black-and-white by just the nature of the film's dark tone.
  • Frank Sinatra was offered the role of Paul Kersey, but backed out.
  • The name "Paul Kersey" for the Charles Bronson character was the actual name of one of the extras hired for the movie. He allowed the use of his name in exchange for his appearing in all possible scenes requiring an extra.
  • Feature film debut for Jeff Goldblum.
  • After finishing The Stone Killer (1973), Charles Bronson and 'Michael Winner' wanted to make another film together, and were discussing further projects. "What shall we do next?" asked Bronson. "The best script I've got is Death Wish. It's about a man whose wife and daughter are mugged and he goes out and shoots muggers," said Winner. "I'd like to do that," Bronson said. "The film?" asked Winner. Bronson replied, "No... shoot muggers."
  • 'Michael Winner' was anxious before production because he was waiting for Charles Bronson to tell him he wanted Jill Ireland to play his wife in the movie, despite feeling she was unsuitable for the part. Finally he said to Bronson, "Charlie, do you want Jill to play your wife in 'Death Wish'?" Bronson replied, "No. I don't want her humiliated and messed around by these actors who play muggers. You know the sort of person we want? Someone who looks like Hope Lange." Lange was an attractive, blonde, all-American "girl next door" type who had starred in the TV series "The Ghost & Mrs. Muir" (1968) and "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" (1971). Winner said, "Well, Charlie, the person who looks most like Hope Lange is Hope Lange. So I'll get her." And he did.
  • Filming during production was so cold, that crew members complained of the water of their eyes freezing. These weather conditions forced them to wear face masks.
  • The opening scene with Kersey photographing his wife in Hawaii was added to the script by 'Michael Winner' himself. After his wife is murdered and his daughter raped, the photographs come back from the laboratory after Bronson's character has been down to Tucson and been given a gun by the architect. It's the emotional impact of the photographs that makes him go out and kill his first mugger.
  • Dino De Laurentiis and Paramount originally wanted to call the film "The Sidewalk Vigilante" because they thought a movie with "Death" in the title was a deterrent and would put audiences off.
  • After the success of Dirty Harry (1971), Clint Eastwood was offered the role of Paul Kersey. But declined feeling he would be poorly cast. He also thought that Gregory Peck would have been right for the part.
  • Future star Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Jurassic Park) has a small role as one of the punks that attacks Paul Kersey's wife and daughter.
  • Body Count: 11 (Ten killed by Paul)
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