Already have an account?
Get back to the
Movies & Shows

10 Shocking Facts About the 1962 Movie ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

From how Robert Duvall got into character, to what scene Gregory Peck nailed, these facts are must reads!

Based on the beloved 1960 book by Harper Lee, the movie To Kill a Mockingbird was a blockbuster hit. It debuted in 1962 and followed Scout Finch (Mary Badham), Jem Finch (Phillip Alford) and Dill Harris (John Megna) as they spy on their spooky neighbor, Boo Radley (Robert Duvall). Elsewhere, their father, Atticus (Gregory Peck), works on freeing Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) from the bogus charges against him that mainly center around his race.

The film won three Oscars, including Best Actor in a Leading Role, which went to Peck. Nowadays, the movie (and book) are taught in English language arts classes worldwide, with the plot still being praised for how ahead of its time it was. But how did they go about making the film? And what really went on behind the scenes? All of that and more are below!

1. Gregory Peck filmed a 6-minute-and-30-second scene in one take

Gregory Peck (1962)
Gregory Peck (1962) moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

Atticus’ (Peck) summation speech was 6-minutes-and-30-seconds long. Peck, being the seasoned professional he was, filmed that scene in one go. As filmed, it was very similar to the one in the book.

2. Peck remained very close to some of the cast members

Gregory Peck and Mary Badham (1962) (to kill a mockingbird movie)
Gregory Peck and Mary Badham (1962) moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

After filming wrapped, Peck still kept in touch with Mary Badham (Scout) and Brock Peters (Tom Robinson). In fact, Badham reportedly always referred to him as Atticus, and Peck always referred to her as Scout.

Peters was also the one who delivered Peck’s eulogy at his funeral.

3. One character didn’t have any lines in the To Kill A Mockingbird movie

Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham and Frank Overton (1962)
Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham and Frank Overton (1962) moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

To Kill a Mockingbird was the first ever film Oscar winner Robert Duvall (Boo Radley) was credited on. However, he didn’t have a single line of dialogue, the one he was supposed to speak being cut out.

In 2021, Duvall commented on it, saying, “At the end, when they’re [Jem and Scout] leading me home, they say, ‘We’re going to take you home,’ and I say Something like, ‘Where are you taking me?’ or ‘Where?’ Something like that. That was all, but they cut the line.”

4. Duvall took some extreme measures to become Boo Radley

Robert Duvall (1962) (to kill a mockingbird movie)
Robert Duvall (1962) Getty

Since Boo Radley is mainly a shut-in who doesn’t leave his house during the day, Duvall spent six weeks before filming began inside to avoid any direct sunlight. He also dyed his hair blonde.

5. Dill was inspried by Truman Capote in the To Kill A Mockingbird movie

Mary Badham, John Megna and Phillip Alford (1962)
Mary Badham, John Megna and Phillip Alford (1962) moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

Harper Lee was very close friends with Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote when they were growing up. As a result, she based Dill on him and Scout on herself. In fact, the small rock wall that Dill jumped over to visit the Finches actually existed, and it was how Capote would come visit Lee while they were neighbors.

Capote also based his work Other Voices, Other Rooms on Lee. The two remained very close throughout their lives.

6. Jem and Scout did not get along in real life

Gregory Peck, Phillip Alford and Mary Badham (1962) (to kill a mockingbird movie)
Gregory Peck, Phillip Alford and Mary Badham (1962)moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

Despite their characters being very close, Mary Badham and Phillip Alford did not get along. Mary reportedly teased Phillip quite a bit and would even mock him for the way he said his lines after they finished filming.

Ironically, though, the two grew up four blocks from each other.

7. The courthouse would later become the clock tower in Back to the Future

Gregory Peck (1962)
Gregory Peck (1962) moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

The exterior streetscape of the Courthouse where Atticus argues on Tom Robinson’s behalf was actually on the Universal Studios’ backlot. So, about 20 years later, the production company made some minor modifications and it became the clock tower in 1985’s Back to the Future.

It also appeared in Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) and Orgy American Style (1973).

8. Mary Badham made history with the To Kill A Mockingbird movie

Mary Badham (1962) (to kill a mockingbird movie)
Mary Badham (1962)moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

At age nine, Madham made history by becoming the youngest person to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, but she lost to Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker (1962).

She was also the only nominee that year in the Best Supporting Actress category in a film that was in the Best Picture category.

9. Duvall and Megna would go on to work together again

Mary Badham, John Megna and Phillip Alford (1962)
Mary Badham, John Megna and Phillip Alford (1962) moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

Robert Duvall (Boo Radley) and John Megna (Dill) would both go on to star in the 1974 hit movie The Godfather Part II. However, the two never shared any scenes together.

10. Production studios were reluctant to acquire the film rights

Gregory Peck and Brock Peters (1962)
Gregory Peck and Brock Peters (1962) moviestillsdb.com/Universal Pictures

A number of production studies were not interested in the film because it lacked much in the way of action and romance. However, producer Alan J. Pakula disagreed and persuaded director Robert Mulligan to work on the film. Together, the two of them were able to get Peck to sign on.


For all things 1960’s, click here!

More Stories

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.