John Carpenter cast wrestler Roddy Piper in the lead role after seeing him in WrestleMania III. Carpenter remembered Keith David’s performance in The Thing and wrote the role of Frank specifically for the actor.
To get the animation they wanted, the effects crew filmed the miniature model set of New York City they used for other scenes under black light with reflective tape placed along every edge of the model buildings. Only the tape is visible and appears to be a 3D wireframe animation.
The fight between Nada (Roddy Piper) and Frank (Keith David) was only supposed to last 20 seconds, but Piper and David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for three weeks. Carpenter was so impressed he kept the 5 minute and 20 second scene intact.