When the film went into production, the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers at the time, Pat Riley, was offered the role of Nick. When he turned it down, it went to 'Kurt Russell'. Russell's look for the role was influenced by Riley.
When Robert Towne was reworking the script for the Roman Polanksi film Frantic, he had all but finished the script for this film in which Frantic star Harrison Ford immediately became interested and agreed to star in the film, but eventually dropped out at the very start of pre-production because of personal conflicts with the role. Robert Towne and Thom Mount then flew to Australia to meet with Mel Gibson to talk about the role and immediately agreed to star.
Warner Bros. agreed to finance and produce this film after writer/director Robert Towne agreed to a settlement of 2.5 million dollars after they had pulled out of the post-production of his directorial debut film, Personal Best. The deal was contingent that the studio would let Towne not only write the film, but also direct it, according to producer Thom Mount.
The film's budget was originally $33 million, but since it was shot as an independent production after Warner Bros. had pulled out, the budget had gone down $10 million less, which was still expensive for an L.A. based film production.
Before shooting began according to producer Thom Mount, Warner Bros. pulled out of the film because of issues with the screenplay citing that the good guy was an ex-drug dealer and the cops and feds are the bad guys.
According to producer Thom Mount, Alec Baldwin was the original choice to play Nick Frescia and had actually come back twice to audition for the role, but Towne and Mount decided to go in another direction.
The hot tub in the film was not properly constructed as a working hot tub nor was it chlorinated. As a result, Michelle Pfeiffer, her double, and Mel Gibson were all plagued with skin rashes and splinters from the wood. Production was shut down for a few days while Pfeiffer recovered from her rash.
When the film was first released, the initial teaser trailer for Batman (1989) was attached to prints of the film. When word got out about the teaser, fans were so excited about seeing the teaser that some people paid admission just to get a glimpse of the trailer.
Michelle Pfeiffer reportedly did not get along with writer/director Robert Towne with Towne labeling her as "the most difficult actress I have ever worked with." This however was most likely due to Towne's reputed perfectionism and the fact that Pfeiffer was going through a divorce during the time of filming.
The red boat used in the movie is either a 1987 or 1988 Chris-Craft Fittipaldi Equipe 312 Stinger, Limited Edition. The Fittipaldi Equipe was named for Emerson Fittipalidi, the famous Formula 1 and Indy Car driver. The Fittipaldi Equipe version featured an all red paint job, white interior, anodized-blacked out hardware, special plaques, and high-performance Kiekhaefer controls and K-planes. In 2013, someone claiming to own the boat used in the movie listed it for sale.