SPOILER: At least 12 different buses were used during the shooting of the movie: - 2 buses for exterior shots - 2 buses that were blown up - 2 buses for interior shots - 2 buses for action sequences and "hitting things" - 1 bus for the jump sequence - 1 bus modified so that it could ride on 2 wheels during the sharp right turn sequence - 1 bus slightly raised so that a man in a mechanic car could fit underneath. It was for the sequence in which Officer Traven (Keanu Reeves) tries to deactivate the bomb. - 1 bus with an extended platform in front so that a filming crew could shoot the driver from the front. The filming crew referred to this bus as the "pope-mobile".
SPOILER: The Los Angeles airport would not allow any explosions to take place to avoid frightening travelers. The explosion scene that takes place when the bus collides with the airplane was filmed in Mojave, California.
Glenn Close, Barbara Hershey, Jessica Lange, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Jane Seymour, Anjelica Huston, Kay Lenz, Kim Basinger, Kathleen Turner, Debra Winger, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Melanie Griffith, Michelle Pfeiffer, Emma Thompson, Rosanna Arquette, Meg Tilly, Daryl Hannah, Meg Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore, Jodie Foster, Tatum O'Neal, Bridget Fonda, Marisa Tomei, Diane Lane, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Cameron Diaz and Alyssa Milano all turned down the role of Annie.
John McTiernan turned down the role of director for Speed (1994/I). Eventually, it was decided that a newcomer should direct and the producers picked Jan de Bont, who had been in charge of cinematography for Die Hard (1988) and The Hunt for Red October (1990), two movies directed by McTiernan.
The famous 'Dukes of Hazzard (1979)' sequence was the filmmakers' wry commentary on the uncompleted state of Interstate 105, which had become a running joke among LA motorists. It was finally (and quite coincidentally) completed in late 1993 shortly before the film's release, years behind schedule.
Dennis Hopper's line about Pershing Square being the "pickup spot" (for his ransom money) was a double entendre. For decades, Pershing Square has been a notorious locale for soliciting gay sex.
The bus number is 2525. 25+25=50. The bus has to stay above 50mph.
The ad that appears on the tail of the first bus that explodes says "Save the Clams" referring to an environmental movement to save the giant clams
Keanu Reeves did approximately 90% of his own stunts.
Jan de Bont insisted that Keanu Reeves get a sensible haircut as would befit a hard-working cop. 20th Century Fox were horrified when they saw the buzzcut that he adopted for the film, threatening to postpone the film to allow his hair to grow back.
20th Century Fox were not convinced to begin with that Keanu Reeves had enough star clout to front the film and insisted on a big name actress to star alongside him. Jan de Bont refused. Fox relented to his casting of Sandra Bullock with Reeves only two weeks before shooting began.
Keanu Reeves initially turned down the lead as he found Graham Yost's original script to be too much like a Die Hard (1988) clone. He signed on after Jan de Bont brought in Joss Whedon to retool the script.
Sandra Bullock actually learned to drive a bus for the film, passing her test on her first attempt.
For the bus jump sequence, a ramp was built. The bus was started from about 1 mile back and accelerated towards the ramp. When it hit the ramp it had reached a speed of 61 mph. The bus traveled 109 feet and its front wheels reached an altitude of 20 feet from the ground, which was higher than anyone had anticipated. Because of this, the cameras were not placed correctly and the top front part of the bus goes out of the frame when the bus reaches the maximum point of the jump.
A special bus was used for the bus jump scene. This bus was modified so that it could reach a speed of 70 mph and it was equipped with powerful shock absorbers. The driver seat was moved back 15 feet so that if something went wrong the driver wasn't ejected from the bus. The seat itself was a suspension mechanism between the ceiling and the bus floor to avoid the driver from suffering spinal compression on impact.