- Anachronism Stew: When Graham is investigating the Leeds' entertainment cabinet, a VHS copy of Mrs. Doubtfire can be seen, a film released in 1993. The prologue for this film takes place in 1980, with the bulk of the story occurring "several years later" (with Manhunter before it establishing a three-year gap and the original novel a four-year one). It's doubtful 12 years were meant to have passed, especially since this story occurs before The Silence of the Lambs, which took place around 1990.
- Awesome, Dear Boy: As reported here, actors Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, and even Director Brett Ratner have all said that they were very reluctant to do Red Dragon, mostly due to the mixed reception Hannibal received. What actually convinced them all to do it was the screenplay written by Ted Tally (who had previously adapated Silence of the Lambs), which they all thought was amazing.
- Deleted Role: Frank Langella recorded a number of lines as the voice of the Great Red Dragon, allowing viewers to hear Dolarhyde's interior monologue/argument, but they were cut.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Ralph Fiennes gained fifteen pounds of muscle while preparing to portray the similarly bulked-up Dolarhyde.
- Enforced Method Acting: Philip Seymour Hoffman was actually glued to the wheelchair, at his own request.
- Fake American: Englishman Ralph Fiennes plays the American Francis Dolarhyde. Emily Watson is also British, playing the American Reba.
- Hey, It's That Place!: The Leeds house previously appeared in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- One for the Money; One for the Art: Edward Norton used his salary to finance 25th Hour.
- The Other Darrin: Harvey Keitel replaced Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford.
- Technology Marches On: Dolarhyde chooses his victims through their home movies, which are shot on film and are sent to his company for processing. While it made sense in 1981 (when the book was published) and 1979 (when the book was set), when 8mm and 16mm cameras were still commonly used for home movies, this plot device quickly became outdated by 1983 when the camcorder became a reality, thanks to the fact that videotape doesn't need any post-processing and can be played back as soon as a recording is finished. While 1986's Manhunter retains the book's use of film-based home movies despite its contemporary setting, the 2002 adaptation updates the story to Dolarhyde's company compositing shorter home movies into VHS tapes (as the timeframe set by The Silence of the Lambs meant the movie had to take place in the mid-80s instead of 1979). Of course, that too is wildly outdated today, with the rise of digital cameras, smartphones, and video-editing software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker all rendering this practice obsolete. Today, Dolarhyde would likely stalk victims on social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.
- In the TV version, made and set in the 2010's, it's made a plot point that film development is a more specialized field now thanks to the ubiquity of digital video technology, and Dolarhyde is one of the few left who knows how to do it.
- Unintentional Period Piece: The plot hinges on Dolarhyde's employment at a film processing facility. He discovers his victims via the home movies they send in for processing and uses the home movies to learn the layouts of the home and any obstacles in his way. His job quickly became obsolete with the rise of camcorders just a few years later, and nowadays the ubiquity of smartphones and video editing software makes his job next-to-nonfunctional. The 2002 film adaptation pushed him slightly ahead of his literary counterpart: in the book he processes film for use in projectors, while in the movie he edits multiple home videotapes onto one tape. Of note is that the original book was set in 1979, while both film adaptations shoot for a mid-80's setting (which was contemporary for Manhunter, but in the 2002 film's case is done to preserve continuity with The Silence of the Lambs; the latter case is an Averted Trope though, given that the 2002 film is an intentional period piece).
- What Could Have Been:
- Dario Argento, who was a big fan of the original novel and disliked the Michael Mann adaptation, expressed interest in directing his own adaptation, but nothing ever came of it.
- According to the commentary track for the 2002 film, Philip Seymour Hoffman very much wanted to play Dolarhyde; he ended up being cast as Lounds instead.
- Frankie Faison played Barney the orderly in The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Due to scheduling, he did not become available to appear in Red Dragon until the last minute. Screenwriter Ted Tally has commented that, had he known for sure that Faison would be able to take the part, Barney would have had a bigger role.
- Ethan Hawke was the first choice for Will Graham.
- Michael Jackson of all people lobbied to play Dolarhyde! Considering Jackson's own lifelong self-image issues and alleged eccentricities, there is an admitted parallel, but it's still somewhat jarring to think about. Paul Bettany was also offered the role, but he wasn't busy with Dogville. Nicolas Cage and Sean Penn were also considered, while Jeremy Piven auditioned.
- Jack Black was considered for Freddy Lounds. Had Anthony Heald not been available, the role of Chilton would have gone to Tim Roth.
Trivia / Red Dragon