Witness Movie Behind The Scenes

Making Witness

Witness Picture
Harrison Ford also stars in this crucial career role


Go behind the scenes on the 1985 Drama movie starring Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Alexander Godunov More Cast

We believe the following info is all legit. If it's bogus or you have additional info, please update us.

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Harrison Ford was a carpenter before making it in the movies and apparently relished the opportunity to use his skills in the 'barn raising' sequence of the movie.
Rewind Archive
Harrison also joined the Philadelphia Police Dept for a time for research purposes --even going on a number of "fugitive acquisition" raids!
Thanks to Kenneth Sutton
Sylvester Stallone was originally offered the role of John Book but turned it down. He later said on the Arsenio Hall Show that it was one of the worst decisions of his career.
Thanks to Thom Davis
Remember the "Honey, that's great coffee" line in the kitchen scene?

The line was from a coffee commercial that Harrison Ford got turned down for when he was a struggling actor.
Thanks to Doug
The Zimmerman store is still there, with the phone booth Harrison Ford stood in, but the actual pay phone he used is not there anymore. It is in a "Witness" movie museum in downtown Lancaster PA, which is right next to the office building in which the police station and garage scenes were filmed.

If you have a small child, you can buy one of those wooden marble toys Harrison Ford made for the Amish boy.

Right up the street from Zimmermans is the intersection where Harrison Ford punched out the townie who said "Boo!" to him after spreading ice cream on Daniel's face.

In Summer of 2005, the Lancaster tourism people had a "Witness" tour, and me and my wife went to see it. The bus took you to the actual Witness farm where the movie was filmed. It is currently occupied by an Amish family (all present during the tour) and it is a working Amish farm to this day.

We were able to walk around the farm, we were inside the kitchen,and the barn where Ford and Kelly McGillis danced. We also saw the hole in the floor where Ford dropped to the lower level when escaping, and also saw the grain silo.

There is a birdhouse next to the farm-the same place as the one in the film- but this is not the one seen in the movie. Some of the changes done for filming are still present in the kitchen. For instance, the cabinets have a wood grain to them- actually this effect was painted on for the film, and the effect is still there. The cabinets are the same ones used in the film- I got to open the cabinet that Ford did when he retrieved his bullets.

Some of the farmhouse used in the filming was closed to the tour- Harrison Ford's "sickroom" where he was recovering from the bullet wound is in the upstairs of the house. The previous poster is correct- the Amish were not happy about the Hollywood craze in their neighborhood. Kelly McGillis loved the area so much, she bought property in Lancaster and built a house there. Unknown where it is, or if she still owns it.In preparation for the role, Kelly McGillis lived with an Amish family for a few days... until the Amish leadership found out about it, then she was asked to leave.
Thanks to Robert Baum
To prepare for her role as the Amish widow, Kelly McGillis lived with an Amish family for a short time so that she could listen to their language and accent and learn to mimic it
Thanks to Steve Hall
The elaborate wooden water wheel which provided water to the house was actually a studio prop that was constructed after filming began and was removed after the production was complete.
Thanks to Unknown247
It has been said that, in the final scenes of the film, when John and Rachael are on the front porch, there was at least 10 pages of dialogue written for that scene but Harrison Ford (John Book) became ill before shooting that scene so all he could manage was a nod of the head.

But the truth is that, according to Director Peter Weir, just two pages of dialog were cut as their feelings towards each other should be obvious at the end. Nothing to do with illness.
Thanks to Unknown247
When the Amish people appeared over the hill during the barn raising, they weren't actually supposed to be there!

They weren't members of the cast or crew, they were just proper, local Amish folk who wanted to see what was going on! And after the scene had been finished, they came over to the crew and asked them who was going to get the barn!
Editor Nick
Representatives from Paramount who scouted the area hired a technical adviser, John King, a local lumber salesman who was raised Amish and left the religion, to assure the movie's authenticity. They apparently looked at about 350 Pennsylvania farms in search of a site secluded enough for the set and they tried unsuccessfully to rent an Amish dairy farm as the main setting.

Paramount had offered them 700 a day to use the farm. The farm owner's wife was quoted as saying:

"We first thought it was kind of tempting,'' she admitted. ''After all, we are only human. But it didn't take long to decide this isn't what we want. Money is nothing compared to our way of life.''

The filmmakers had almost given up and the company was on the verge of moving the production to Portland, Ore., when it came upon a farm owned by Emma and Paul Krantz, who were not Amish, apparently at the suggestion of an Amish neighbor, even though the Amish were not keen on having the film made at all.

Set back from the road, it offered exactly the privacy that the filmmakers were after. And the rest is history...
Editor Nick
The script's original title was "Called Home" which is the Amish term for death.

Next Section: Deleted Scenes

Deleted Scenes

There are often scenes cut from the final version of a movie. Sometimes these will have been seen by preview audiences, or be included in Blu-ray or DVD extras etc.

The following missing scenes from Witness are believed legit. If you disagree or have additional info, please update us.

Editor Nick
The original script had many subtle differences. Some examples:

Book knows more about the Amish. He even states to Rachael that he knows about their rules and apologizes in the car early on for them being involved.

The idea of the missing p2p chemicals from the raid is also introduced just after Book has met Rachael and Samuel with a conversation with Shaeffer that indicates that this is an ongoing hot investigation.

Book appears to work for "Internal Affairs" rather than being a regular cop.

Book also takes them to a Philly hotel before Rachael states firmly that "they don't stay in hotels" and he then takes them to his sisters place.

The sister has two boys in the original script. Rachael and Samuel motivate them to help tidy up the sisters place in the morning to repay her kindness for taking them in. The sister is asleep while this happens and awakes to find the place cleaned. Rachael then attempts to "educate" Elaine on how to raise her boys to help her. This doesn't go down well...

Despite this, Rachael and Elaine later have a "heart-to-heart" about Elaine's boyfriend, "Fred"

Next Section: Alternate Versions

Alternate Versions

Sometimes, there will be several versions of a movie floating about on cable, tv or video etc. Other times, a Director may release a special cut of the movie on Blu-ray or DVD.

The following versions of Witness are apparently real. If you disagree or have additional info, please update us.

Thanks to Christine Peterson
Recently I was watching Witness on Bravo while channel flipping. Since I own the DVD, I never watched it on TV before and was treated to some scenes not on the DVD.

-Rachel awakes to find Samuel in the kitchen with Book's sister's boys -and makes them clean the kitchen! Then the sister is insulted by this gesture, yelling at Rachel and screaming at the boyfriend, Fred on her way out of the kitchen.

-Rachel goes up to the woman's room and they have a heart to heart (Rachel laughs at the sister yelling at her boyfriend, something she's never seen before) This is a great sequence and explains why later on, when Book takes the Lapps for food during the day, Rachel starts chatting about his sister and what she had said about Book. -Up until I saw the scenes of their interaction, I was always confused by her telling him about this. I believe they were added to the TV version, but they are not on the DVD.

Jacalyn adds: Yes, the scene in the sister's house was in the original screen version. I have never been able to find a version with that since 1985.
Thanks to Dominick Orrino
Another scene is cut from the DVD version. Right after Book finishes fixing the birdhouse they start kissing. Then after that they go in the middle of the wheat field and really start getting it on.
Thanks to Mel Soli
The scene where Rachel cleans up at Elaine's home and they have the heart to heart was NOT in the original theater version. It is a cut scene, but was included when the film was first shown on TV.

The "get it on" scene described between Book and Rachel was never shot. It was in the original script but omitted in the version used for the film.

Jump To: Filming Locations
1985 Paramount Pictures
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