The film opens with a recreation of an evocative classic Marilyn Monroe movie scene from The Seven Year Itch (1955) where Monroe's dress flew-up in the air from a breeze blown from a street subway grill.
In an interview, A Conversation with Theresa Russell by Sam Wasson, actress Theresa Russell said of this film: "Actually, originally I turned it down. Here's what happened. [Producer] Alexander Stewart kind of approached me before he even approached [director] Nic [Roeg] to do it. I don't know if Nic will even remember that, because he kind of rearranges history sometimes like his movies [Laughs] - but that is in fact how it was. Maybe he wanted Nic all along, I don't know, but he came in that way. I knew the writer of the play [Terry Johnson] didn't want me to do it. He wanted Judy Davis, who had done the play in London. I think they were kind of an item for a while. So he was not happy with me doing it. Also, there had been a slew of Marilyn things going on, and Madonna was in her Marilyn phase, and I was just like, Oh, God, I just can't even think of going there, it's just too silly. I just don't want to . . . I loved the play. I just thought it was a terrific play. But to be Marilyn seemed so daunting, and I didn't know how I would begin to go there in a way that wasn't a caricature-so obviously it was just easier to say no! But then when Nic wanted to do it, that's when it got to another level.
Star Billing: Gary Busey (1st), Michael Emil (2nd), Theresa Russell (3rd), Will Sampson (4th) and Tony Curtis (5th). In the film's closing credits, the billing is varied from the above used for promotional materials and the opening credits, it being Emil (1st), Russell (2nd), Curtis (3rd), Busey (4th) and Sampson (5th).
The film's precis for the Cannes Film Festival states: "The cinema seems at its most compelling when it deals with myths. Perhaps this is because it is able, more than any other medium, to give them a sense of reality and somewhere in our subconscious we still believe in the first of all the myths of Cinema... 'The camera cannot lie'. I hope that "Insignificance" is a real, mythical, melodramatic farce".
Director Nicolas Roeg once said of this film's source stage-play after he first saw it and believed that it "might be a tool to use. An incident came up in my own life and I thought, 'Good God, nobody knows a damn thing about anyone.' That was the premise that started me thinking about the piece again.".
Wikipedia states, that according the book "The Films of Nicolas Roeg" (1991) by Neil Sinyard, "[Director] Roeg asked [playwright Terry] Johnson to work on the screenplay, which at first meant simply reducing the play to approximately ninety minutes as opposed to two hours, but then Roeg began making suggestions which would expand the screenplay and include flashbacks to the characters histories, and flash-forwards of imagination. His suggestions inspired Johnson to focus on a deeper development of the characters, while Roeg himself began to imagine how the film could open then play spatially as well as laterally. 'He opened it backwards,' Johnson said"."