Not surprisingly, Mary Pickford failed to look sufficiently Japanese in this five-reel melodrama based on John Luther Long's novel rather than Puccini. The star fought director Sidney Olcott tooth and nails throughout the filming at Plainfield and Bernardsville, New Jersey. Olcott reportedly wanted Pickford to be more reserved and Oriental and walked off the set in protest of her too Americanized Cio Cio San. The headstrong actress began talking of directing the rest of the film herself, and Olcott quickly reappeared. Pickford's friend Marshall Neilan played Pinkerton, heading a supporting cast of Caucasian actors, few of whom looked any more Asian than Pickford. As opposed to the 1918 Norma Talmadge remake, The Forbidden City, Pickford's Madame Butterfly remained true to its source and included Cio Cio San's suicide.