Actor Liam Neeson lived in a Washington D.C. homeless shelter for two days to prepare for his role. The production notes for the film state that for his part as a deaf-dumb indigent who is charged with a grisly murder, in order to get a better idea of the life these people lead, actor Liam Neeson spent several nights sleeping in one of the Washington, D.C. area's men's shelters.
Producer Daniel A. Sherkow said of this film's production: "It was important for us not only to look at Washington visually but to be able to shoot here so that the sense of the city was always in our minds, even if we were doing interiors. Also, because of the tremendous cooperation of the government, both on a local and federal level, we were given access to places that would have been impossible to replicate on a stage".
The film's leading lady Cher said of her casting, performance, and characterization: "I read the script and really, really liked it but I was also very intimidated until I jumped into it. I know nothing about the law so I chose to play the aspects of Kathleen's character that I knew, that I could relate to, and then the legal terms and language just fell into place. I used them as if I'd been using them all my life. The easy part was being in front of the jury. The hard part was acting well enough to make people believe you know what you're doing. You have to make them believe that you have been a student, gone to college, gone to law school and have been doing this for eight years. That's the difficult part".
Actress Cher, in preparing for her lead role as the film's central character Kathleen Riley, spent considerable time with the Public Defender's office in Washington, D.C., with many of their attorneys and attended several trials in District of Columbia area courts. Cher said: "I sat in on a real murder trial and it's enormously different from anything lid ever seen in film or on television. I went to jail and spent time with the convicted men and that was an amazing experience. It's so strange because I look at these guys and they're all somebody's child, or brother, or father but they've all just gone the wrong way".
In addition to the physical locations in Wsahington state, accuracy was of key importance to the movie's filmmakers. "We've gone to a lot of trouble to be accurate and pay close attention to detail," explained director Peter Yates. Yates added: "I think a lot of courtroom dramas have been made with glaring inaccuracies which you just don't see in modern courtrooms. We wanted to make sure that our film was not only exciting and dramatic, but true to life as well".
By the time principal photography was completed in the spring of 1987, director Peter Yates felt that "we [the production] really covered the whole spectrum of Washington, from Capitol Hill right down to the drain pipes by the Potomac. Suspect (1987) is a film which, we hope, will entertain and enthrall audiences".
Executive Producer John Veitch said of the production of this movie: "Washington is where the story takes place and we were extremely fortunate to be able to film in all the locations indicated in the script. In the past, certain film companies had abused the privilege of filming in some of the key government buildings so we had to somehow offset that. When production was completed, the Secret Service thanked us and said to come back anytime".
John Veitch, the film's executive producer, said of this movie: "Our film is very true to the law. We had a technical advisor from the public defenders office with us on the set, observing and double-checking our court technique and legal procedure. We tried not to take dramatic license and would ask, 'would this be proper, is this the way it's done?' If she said 'no', we'd change it to conform to the proper way of doing it".
Dennis Quaid said of his character Eddie Sanger in this film: "Eddie's a lobbyist for the milk producers of America. He's from Wisconsin and he still carries around his mid-western values, though he's in danger of losing them along the way."
The film's director Peter Yates said of this movie: "It's a story about integrity. A lot of the film takes place in the courtroom and it has always been my feeling that everything is told in a courtroom except the truth. By that I mean that the information given reads right, and sounds accurate, but what's missing is the emotion of the moment when the murder took place, when the divorce happened or when the assault occurred. I think what [screenwriter] Eric Roth has done with this script is managed to establish a style whereby we see what happened before we hear it reported in the courtroom scenes. That way you get the contrast between the emotion of the actual event, and the almost clinical reporting of it later on".