Cecil B. DeMille did not want to take any chances with the film. His two stars, H.B. Warner and Dorothy Cumming, were required to sign agreements which prohibited them from appearing in film roles that might compromise their "holy" screen images for a five-year period. DeMille also ordered them not to be seen doing any "un-Biblical" activities during the film's shooting. These activities included attending ball games, playing cards, frequenting night clubs, swimming, and riding in convertibles.
Cecil B. DeMille intended that the role of the Jesus Christ go to J.B. Warner, a handsome and popular actor in westerns at the time. By the time production began, Warner had passed away of tuberculosis at age 29. Instead, H.B. Warner (Henry B. Warner) was cast as Jesus. Contrary to popular misconception, the two were not actually brothers. According to an in-depth article on J.B. Warner "Classic Images" by Grange B. McKinney, the two were not even related. J.B.'s real name was James B. Tobias, and he adopted the surname of Warner after H.B. Warner's family took him in and raised him. This familial error appears in several reference books.
H.B. Warner, who played Jesus, was involved in a real life scandal with an anonymous woman who was determined to blackmail Cecil B. DeMille by ruining the production. It is believed that DeMille paid the woman on the condition that she leave the U.S.
After considering Seena Owen, Gloria Swanson, Gertrude Lawrence, Vilma Bánky and Raquel Meller for the role of Mary Magdelene, Cecil B. DeMille chose Jacqueline Logan after she told him, "I don;t want to play her as a bad woman, but as a woman who doesn't know the difference between right and wrong."
During the shoot H.B. Warner was driven to the set in a closed car with the blinds down, wore a black veil when he left the car for the set, and ate alone. The pressures of playing Jesus ultimately had an effect on Warner and resurrected his former drinking problem.
The Temple of Jerusalem set was constructed on the Pathe (later, RKO) backlot in Culver City. It was redressed as the "Great Wall" set that the title character breaks through in King Kong. It was later reused in David O. Selznick's The Garden of Allah and finally went out in a blaze of glory after it was redressed with Civil War era building fronts, burned and pulled down by a tractor to represent the burning of Atlanta munitions warehouses in Selznick's Gone with the Wind.
This film features author Ayn Rand as one of the hundreds of people in a crowd. At a time when Rand was a struggling immigrant, Cecil B. DeMille gave her the job to help get her on her feet.
This was the first film shown at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
While Cecil B. DeMille was shooting the Crucifixion scene, pioneering director D.W. Griffith visited the set, and the two talked for a while. Just before DeMille got ready to shoot the next scene, he impulsively handed Griffith the megaphone and said, "You shoot this". Griffith then shot a scene of a group of Christ's persecutors gathered around the foot of the Cross.