Career Resurrection: While often touted as one for Ingrid Bergman, it was actually one for Helen Hayes. She had taken several years off after the death of her daughter, and her husband's failing health. This was viewed as her comeback, and she'd even win an Oscar for Airport a few years later.
Dawson Casting: In 1928, when the movie takes place, the real Anastasia would have been twenty-seven years old. Ingrid Bergman was forty-one at the time of filming.
Fake Russian: Yul Brynner and Akim Tamiroff are the only Russian actors playing Russian charactersnote Tamiroff was ethnically Armenian, but was born and raised at a time when the country was ruled by the Russian Empire, and spoke Russian as his first language., though Sacha Pitoëff (Petrovin) and Ivan Desny (Prince Paul) did have Russian ancestry. Invoked for the titular character, both the film and the characters leave it ambiguous if Anna is actually the Russian princess or merely an imposter.
Reality Subtext: The press loved comparing the story of the film to Ingrid Bergman's exile from Hollywood; a former royal regaining her throne after circumstance forced her to abandon it. Interestingly enough, the story ending with Anna running away rather than properly reclaiming the throne did parallel how the actress didn't properly return to Hollywood and instead continued to make films in Europe, with only the occasional Hollywood picture.
Typecasting: Ivan Desny, who plays Prince Paul Von Haralsberg, also starred in a German film about Anna Anderson the same year.
Underage Casting: Helen Hayes was only 56 when she played the 80-year-old Dowager Empress.
Filmmakers didn't know that the real Anna Anderson was still alive at first, and so travelled to her home to get permission to use her name.
Helen Hayes was hired by accident. The producer had seen an actress called Helen Haye on the BBC and sent a memo to the casting director to hire her. The latter assumed it was a misprint, and got Helen Hayes instead.
Dawson Casting: The 36-year-old Meg Ryan voices Anya at 18, both Kirsten Dunst and Lacey Chabert were 15 voicing and singing (respectively) her at 8, and the 31-year-old John Cusack voices 20-year-old Dimitri.
Fandom Nod: Look closely, and you'll see little visual Shout Outs to other movies from Don Bluth's history. (The squirrels look like they've walked right off the set of Sleeping Beauty, Bartok is sucked into Hell just like Charlie, there's a spooky thorn bush near the end that Brutus might be guarding, and so on).
Kids' Meal Toy: It had two sets of Burger King toys. One came with the meal, while the other could be purchased for an extra three dollars. The toys included in the second set included a talking Bartok plush, an Anastasia doll, and a miniature battery-powered train and track.
Reality Subtext: Actual relics of the Romanovs were scanned into the computers and inserted within the movie, including photographs of the family shown on Marie's wall and the drawing Anastasia made when she was eight years old, which was drawn by the real Anastasia.
Time has conclusively proven the concept of this movie false (not that it ever claimed to be some accurate historical representation). For 90 years, the bodies of the Romanov's son Alexei and one of the younger daughters (either Anastasia or her sister Maria) were missing. The rest of the family's bodies had been found in 1991 but in 2007, an archeological excavation found the bodies of a teenage boy and girl near the site of the grave of the rest of the family. Upon DNA testing (from Prince Phillip who is their mom's great-nephew), they were confirmed to be the missing Romanov children though it is still unknown if it was Anastasia or Maria who was found with Alexei. All seven members of the family are now accounted for and confirmed to have died in 1918.
The early drafts followed the historical events more accurately before producers decided the real history was too dark for a children's film. The composers were surprised when they went down this road - and their stage musical adaptation is closer to their original vision.
Dimitri was originally named Philippe.
In the film, Rasputin's reason for being evil is never really explained - he's briefly described as being a "fraud" and a "traitor", but nothing else - and it's the Tsar's attempt to expel him from court that leads to him swearing vengeance against the entire Romanov line. In the original drafts of the story, Rasputin only became evil after the relatives of the Tsar made an assassination attempt against his life - which historically killed him - and he swore vengeance after mistakenly assuming the Tsar had arranged it. His Villain Song still refers to the royals having "betrayed" him.
Rasputin also didn't drown and end up in limbo in these drafts; instead, he escaped to the countryside in a traveling wagon, and only returned when he realized that Anastasia was still alive.
Before Rasputin was chosen as the villain, Don Bluth had ideas for a fictional police chief who had a personal vendetta against Anastasia herself. This character eventually took Rasputin's place in the stage version.
Vlad and Sophie were originally supposed to be dancing together in the opening scene, giving a greater insight as to how they know each other, and how they're connected to Anastasia's family.
Liz Callaway was only brought in to record some demos, hoping to land a "background vocals" slot. Producers liked her songs so much, some of them were used in the final film - and she became the singing voice of Anastasia.
Bartok was written for Woody Allen to play but they were reluctant to offer it to him after his abuse accusations came out. Martin Short was also considered.
Anya was going to be seen riding a bicycle during "Journey To The Past", but the idea was abandoned because the writers realized she hadn't begun her journey yet - and was only on the cusp of it.
The various movie storybooks, which presumably reflect an earlier screenplay, all seem to imply that Anastasia and her grandmother will never meet again after she elopes with Dimitri. Empress Marie's words of encouragement to her granddaughter are "Whatever you choose, I will always hold you in my heart" instead of "...we will always have each other," Anya's farewell letter lacks "We'll be together in Paris soon," and Marie's subsequent dialogue with Sophie has the latter lamenting that they're losing Anastasia again when it seems like just yesterday they found her, to which Marie replies "At least we had that yesterday. She has her tomorrow." Presumably, the filmmakers realized that this would make the ending too bittersweet and make the audience lose sympathy with Anya for abandoning her grandmother, so the scenes were rewritten to make it clear that she and Marie will still be in contact and that Marie and Sophie are happy for her.
The movie storybooks also contain a penultimate action sequence before the confrontation with Rasputin on the bridge, where the topiary animals in the French royal garden come to life and chase after Anya and Pooka.