At the time that this movie was in theaters, the creators of an up-and-coming software company were looking for a name for their revolutionary new video game. They got it from the scene in which Tom Cruise walks into the pool hall and is asked what's in the case that he's carrying. His answer: Doom.
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 players Andrew Ghiatsidis & 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.
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)."
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.
Many top pool players of the 80s 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.
Martin Scorsese has said he mainly did this at the insistence of star Paul Newman and to prove that he could make a mainstream studio picture that would be finished on time and under budget. He felt that, despite his minimal input, that it was not a personal picture and he was more or less a "hired gun" on this.
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.
Legendary game developers John Carmack and John Romero revealed that this film especially the exchange between Vincent and Moselle was the main reason behind the title of the hit video game Doom and its sequels.
Paul Newman felt that Martin Scorsese was the right person to direct The Color of Money because he liked the way Scorsese directed Raging Bull (1980), which was based on the life of boxer Jake LaMotta, who appeared as a bartender in The Hustler (1961).
After the last shot of the Newman-Cruise game at the tournament, Paul Newman kept all the people in the stands, that were extras in the shot. A few minutes later, a stack of Budweiser beer cases came in and was shared. Budweiser was Paul Newman's sponsor for his Newman-Haas racing team.
The first pool hall to which Eddie, Vincent, and Carmen go, was above the Lincoln Tap Room bar on the North side of Chicago. As of February 2015, the bar is still open and directly across from a Church of Scientology. They park and walk past where the church is now located. It's a strange coincidence since Cruise is very big into Scientology.
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).