The movie completely ignored DNA, which had been used in criminal investigations since the mid-1980s. The film was set in the year of its release (1992), by which time DNA was constantly being used for crime investigations.
Michael Douglas felt an established star was needed to play Catherine, so the movie would be carried by two well-known actors, and the risk of career damage would also be shared. He suggested Julia Roberts for the part, but no actress of name was prepared to go completely nude for the role. Douglas was initially against Sharon Stone being cast as she was largely unknown, despite her supporting role in Total Recall (1990), but Paul Verhoeven desperately wanted her, since he had been very impressed by her screen test.
According to Sharon Stone, director Paul Verhoeven asked her to remove her underwear for the leg-crossing scene, as he said they were too bright and reflected at the camera. Stone agreed to do so under the assumption that her genitals weren't visible. It was only at an early preview that Stone discovered Verhoeven chose to use this specific shot. Stone was mainly cross with Verhoeven for not discussing the matter with her beforehand, but decided to let the scene go without changes, as she felt this conformed with her movie character. However, Verhoeven's version of the conflict is that he told Stone beforehand about the leg-crossing shot, as it was important for showing Catherine Tramell's free-spirited nature and her constant drive to toy with people. Stone was reportedly excited about the idea and shot the scene. However, during the early preview, her agents supposedly disproved of the scene, fearing it would harm her future career. According to Verhoeven, Stone radically changed her mind about the shot and demanded that he remove it, which he ultimately refused.
Sharon Stone's infamous leg-uncrossing scene was not in Joe Eszterhas' original script; it was thought up by Paul Verhoeven while the movie was being shot. IT was based on a memory of Verhoeven's college years, when a woman at a party had done the exact same thing to embarrass him.
In 2002 screenwriter Joe Eszterhas apologized in an op-ed for The New York Times for glamorizing smoking in this movie. Eszterhas was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000, as was Michael Douglas in 2010 (although Douglas later said he actually had tongue cancer).
Paul Verhoeven shot copious amounts of footage of the sex scene between Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone. Expecting that the MPAA would have problems with the explicit nature of the scene, he shot alternate close-ups, medium shots and wide shots of virtually every shot over 10 days. This gave him the freedom to edit the scene until the MPAA was satisfied and no longer demanded that the scene was deleted altogether.
While appearing on Inside the Actors Studio (1994), Sharon Stone claimed that she had no idea that Paul Verhoeven was filming up her dress during the interrogation scene. She also claims that when she saw the rushes, she slapped the director across the face and ordered him to remove the shot. Verhoeven denies this.
Paul Verhoeven was on record when he first signed to do the film as saying that he wanted to make it the first Hollywood mainstream film with an erect penis in it. He didn't get his wish. But he did get a limp penis on screen - on Boz's cadaver when the police examine his body.
This movie, along with RoboCop (1987), Starship Troopers (1997) and Hollow Man (2000), is one of four separate movie franchises in which the first of their respected series (directed by Paul Verhoeven) were successful, but their sequels (not directed by Verhoeven) all either bombed at the box office or were released "direct-to-DVD".
Catherine's last name comes from Alan Trammell, the longtime star shortstop for the Detroit Tigers. Sharon Stone discovered that a trammell was a Scottish death shroud and complimented Joe Eszterhas on his subtlety with the choice, not believing the truth.
Writer Joe Eszterhas and producer Irwin Winkler walked off the picture after failing to reach agreement with director Paul Verhoeven over the script. Verhoeven promptly hired Total Recall (1990) writer Gary Goldman to come up with some new scenes, most of which beefed up Michael Douglas's character and made him less wimpy. These changes were largely made at the behest of Douglas. It was during this later stage that Verhoeven realized his changes weren't going to work, so he publicly acknowledged his error and made up with Eszterhas (which Eszterhas admitted to be a rare thing in Hollywood). Problems reoccurred later when the script had been leaked, and the gay and lesbian communities had serious reservations about the depiction of lesbian and bisexual characters. Eszterhas wanted to make more changes to appease them, but Verhoeven point blank refused to incorporate these changes. Eszterhas again publicly distanced himself from the production, but once again reconciled with Verhoeven when the finished movie was praised by critics and homosexual communities alike.
Paul Verhoeven was so intent on making the sex scenes as explicitly as the censors would allow, that he showed the studio executives very detailed storyboards depicting what he had in mind, as to avoid later discussions about the graphic nature of the love scenes.
The disco scene was felt by many to be inappropriate given the respective ages of the two stars. The disco was intended for young people, but Sharon Stone was in her mid-30s and Michael Douglas was in his late 40s.
One of the main points of disagreement between Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas concerned Verhoeven's wish to include a lesbian love scene between Catherine Trammell and her lover Roxy, as he considered a movie that only mentioned bisexuality without showing bisexual love to be overly puritan; Eszterhas considered adding such a scene to be sensationalism. Verhoeven made some attempts but found that the scene ruined the movie's pace, so he abandoned the idea. The only remnant of the scene in the movie is when Catherine and Roxy passionately kiss after Nick angrily leaves Catherine's apartment.
Renée Soutendijk and Amanda Donohoe were considered for the role of Catherine Tramell. Soutendijk had already played a femme fatale in one of Paul Verhoeven's Dutch films and came very close to getting the part. However, Verhoeven realized that American audiences wouldn't be surprised if a European actress was cast in the part of the wicked and dangerous lady, so he decided that Catherine Tramell should be an "all-American" girl.
In the latter scene where Beth comes into Nick's apartment and leaves after a verbal altercation, while it seems he is awaken from being heavily intoxicated the movie Hellraiser (1987) is on the television.
Michael Douglas' character has the same first name ("Nick") as his character in Black Rain (1989), in which he also portrays a cop. Douglas' character in "Black Rain" is Detective Nick Conklin, while his character in this film is Detective Nick Curran.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Sharon Stone, when doing the interview circuit, was really annoyed by the fact that everyone always asked her how she felt about all the nudity, when she had real problems with the fact that her character killed someone on screen. When filming this sequence, a paramedic had to be on standby as she kept passing out, and suffered nightmares.
When it was first released, the film confused many audience members, who had wildly different impressions of who the killer really was. It wasn't until the director and stars went public in interviews, telling the public who the killer was and where the clues could be found, that the debate about the ending finally was put to rest.
Gay rights activists were so against the way the gay characters were portrayed that they blocked the San Francisco set numerous times. Director Paul Verhoeven had to issue fake call sheets to trick the protesters into blocking unused locations. When the movie was released, the activists paraded around San Francisco theaters handing out flyers saying, "Catherine did it" to ruin the plot for moviegoers. This didn't seem to have any impact at all, as the movie opened #1 on that same weekend and went on to become one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.
To get an "R" rating, Paul Verhoeven had to re-cut the movie a total of 14 times. The four scenes demanding the heaviest re-cuts were the murder of Johnny Boz, the "date rape" of Elizabeth Cooper, the sex scene between Nick and Catherine and the death of Gus.
One of two movies where Michael Douglas plays a cop named Nick who has a partner who gets killed. In Black Rain (1989) his partner Charlie, played by Andy Garcia, is decapitated in a parking garage in Japan after being lead in there from someone stealing his coat after he did a mock bullfight. In this film, Gus played George Dzundza is stabbed in the neck in the elevator with an ice pick. In both movies both Nicks deal with Internal Affairs. In Black Rain, Nick Conklin is accused of stealing money from drug dealers to pay off mounting debt. In this film, Nick Curran was undercover trying to bust a drug buy and shot 2 tourists accidentally due to the fact he was using cocaine.