Hayley Mills also turned down the role of Lolita. At the time, her father, John Mills was credited with the decision. Later, Walt Disney was blamed.
Stanley Kubrick originally wanted Joey Heatherton for the title role of Lolita, but Heatherton's father Ray Heatherton said no for fear his daughter would be typecast as a promiscuous sex kitten.
Stanley Kubrick's first choice for composing the score was Bernard Herrmann, but the composer balked at having to use Bob Harris' "Theme from Lolita" in his score.
Tuesday Weld was considered for the title role.
Errol Flynn was considered for Humbert Humbert, but died before the film was made.
Sue Lyon was chosen for the title role partly due to the size of her breasts. Stanley Kubrick had been warned that the censors felt strongly about the use of a less developed actress to portray the sexually active 14-year-old.
Sue Lyon went horse-back riding everyday after filming. Kubrick told her, "If you get thrown, roll over. Don't hurt your face."
James Mason was the first choice of director Stanley Kubrick and producer James B. Harris for the role of Humbert Humbert, but he initially declined due to a Broadway engagement. Laurence Olivier then refused the part, apparently on the advice of his agents. Kubrick considered Peter Ustinov, but decided against him. Harris then suggested David Niven; Niven accepted the part, but then withdrew for fear the sponsors of his TV show, Four Star Playhouse, would object. Mason then withdrew from his play and got the part. Harris denies claims that Noel Coward also rejected the role.
Peter Sellers modeled the voice of his character Clare Quilty on that of his director, Stanley Kubrick.
Vladimir Nabokov's original screenplay diverged greatly from the novel, but only a portion of it was used by Stanley Kubrick, even though Nabokov gets screen credit. Nabokov later published it as "Lolita: A Screenplay". The unused screenplay featured an Alfred Hitchcock-like cameo for Nabokov, who is referred to as "that nut with a butterfly net" (Nabokov was well known as an amateur lepidopterist). Although he generally admired the movie adaptation of his book, Nabokov regretted the waste of his time in writing a screenplay which was altered so drastically during filming.
According to Elstree Studios records, Lolita was filmed from Nov 1960 to Feb 1961. The studio charged £34,000 for the sound stage rentals. Sadly, the sound stages used for the film were demolished to make way for a Tesco store.
At one point Lolita mentions hanging out with friends named Rex and Roy. Both of these names mean "king" (Rex in Latin and Roy in French).
Claire Quilty's role in the screenplay was greatly expanded from that of the novel.
Close to 800 girls auditioned for the part of Lolita Haze.
First film of Ed Bishop.
In the novel, Lolita is a brunette. In the film, she is a blonde.
One ending that was considered was to have Humbert and Lolita get married in a state that allowed young people to wed; this ending was considered in order to appease the censors.
Since the censors would allow nothing close to a suggestion of pedophilia, Lolita's age had to be increased from 12 in Vladimir Nabokov's original novel to 14 for the film. They also objected to a scene where Humbert Humbert was to gaze at Lolita's picture while in bed with her mother Charlotte; in the end, the scene was filmed with Charlotte lying fully dressed on the bed and Humbert lying beside her wearing a robe.
Sue Lyon's outstanding performance as "Lolita" earned her the "Most Promising Female Newcomer" award at the 1963 Golden Globes.