The Cape Fear scene in the high school auditorium was completely ad-libbed by Robert De Niro and Juliette Lewis, and done on the first take.
The thick accent Robert De Niro used to play Max Cady reportedly gave Martin Scorsese the creeps. As a joke, De Niro would call Scorsese’s house, leaving voicemails as Cady.
Robert De Niro was tattooed with vegetable dyes, which faded after a few months. Two of the phrases that made it onto De Niro’s body are The Lord Is the Avenger and “Vengeance Is Mine,” complete with chapter and verse.
Robert De Niro’s Cady accent came from an earlier role, where he played a southerner. To prepare for the role, De Niro took excerpts of the script and a tape recorder into southern towns and would ask locals to read the lines into the tape.