Tom Cruise did his own trick shots for the film, except for one in which he had to jump two balls to sink another. Scorsese said he could have let Cruise learn the shot, but it would have taken two extra days of practice, holding up production and costing thousands of dollars. The shot was instead performed by professional player Michael Sigel.
When Paul Newman won the Best Actor Oscar for this picture, he and wife Joanne Woodward became the first married couple to win his and hers Oscars since Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. Newman's win also came after he had already received an Honorary Oscar Statuette the previous year. The win was widely considered based on sentimentality and guilt that one of Hollywood's leading male actors had never won.
At one point in the film, Eddie comments that it has been "25 years" since he last played. In real life, it had been 25 years (1961 - 1986) since The Hustler (1961), where Newman had first played Fast Eddie.
In the novel that the film is based on, Fast Eddie plays in a tournament against Minnesota Fats, who was played by Jackie Gleason in The Hustler (1961). But Martin Scorsese wanted to take the film in another direction. Paul Newman and Gleason wanted Fats to return in the sequel so the character was written into a new draft of the script. But Gleason felt that the character did not fit into the new story and declined to reprise the role.
When The Hustler (1961) first came out, there was an increase in the sales of pool tables around 1961, the film apparently causing a popularizing of the pastimes of pool playing and billiards. When this sequel was first released, a similar phenomenon occurred, trade paper 'Variety' reporting, "...sales of pool tables and billiards-related supplies have leaped dramatically since the October release of The Color of Money (1986)."
Many top pool players of the 80's were part of the cast and/or provided assistance, such as Steve Mizerak ("The Miz") who was the hefty player Eddie beat in Atlantic City; Jimmy Mataya ("Pretty Boy Floyd"), who was accompanying Julian (John Turturro) when he saw Eddie in Atlantic City; Keith McCready, who played Grady Seasons; and others such as Michael Sigel, Ewa Mataya Laurance, (who at the time was Jimmy Mataya's wife) acted as pro shot makers and advisors who set up the shots for the actors, and Howard Vickery, the bearded man who was in the montage of people who Felson hustles.
An earlier screenplay was written by Walter Tevis, author of the novels "The Hustler" and "The Color of Money". But Martin Scorsese was not interested in doing a literal sequel to The Hustler (1961) and worked out a new story with Newman and Richard Price.
Bruce A. Young, who plays Moselle, the man who Challenges Vince to play when Eddie is at the motel, also plays the transvestite prostitute who arrives to Joel's house in Risky Business (1983), another Tom Cruise movie.
When Vincent comes to Eddie's room near the end of the movie to tell him that he let Eddie beat him, the music playing in Eddie's room is jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker performing "I'll Remember April." Two years after TCOM was made, Forest Whitaker, who also hustled Eddie in this movie, portrayed Parker in Clint Eastwood's film Bird (1988).