At one point, Walter (Fred Ward) asks Joel Levison (Brion James) if he's ever seen the original version of D.O.A. (1949). Levison says he has, and says "Disney did a remake in '87 or '88." James was in the remake, D.O.A. (1988). Touchstone Pictures (Disney's adult label) was one of the production and distribution companies.
In the scene where Tim Robbins (as Griffin) stops to say hello to Burt Reynolds in the restaurant, Reynolds improvised the scene, not knowing anything about Griffin but manages to know he's an "asshole".
Every time Griffin Mill enters a bar, restaurant or party, he orders or is served a different brand of bottled water. He first orders San Pellegrino, but is told only Calistoga is available. Subsequent orders include Vitelle, Ramlosa, Volvic and Banning Springs; and at other times he is served Evian or Perrier.
During the sessions where movies are pitched, one will always suggest certain actors for certain roles. For the female lead Julia Roberts is always mentioned, as well as Bruce Willis for the male lead. In the final scene of the in-movie movie you actually see Bruce Willis saving Julia Roberts.
The banquet scene at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was catered by a real catering company. Despite the fact that many of them were SAG members, no banquet staff who worked at the event were told that they would be filmed until they arrived for work that night at the museum. The scene was filmed a year before SAG assumed jurisdiction of extra work on the west coast, and the banquet waiters who appear in the scene were not paid for the extra work, not even non-SAG wages. The only compensation they received was their regular compensation from the real-life catering company for their hours worked during the fake banquet.
David Kahane is said to have written a low-key screenplay based on his experiences in Japan. This sounds somewhat similar to Sofia Coppola's movie Lost in Translation (2003), made eleven years later, which was actually praised by critics as one of the best movies of that year. On a related note, some elements in the movie-within-the-movie Habaes Corpus, (including the original ending), are very similar to The Life of David Gale (2003), which opened eleven years later to negative reviews.
During the opening scene, the character Steve Reeves (played by Jeremy Piven) is seen giving a tour to a group of Japanese businesspeople meant to be visiting from Sony. In an attempt to ingratiate himself with them, he quips, "If you need someone to eat some sashimi with you, give me a ring." Many years later, in 2008, Piven was the subject of some media scrutiny after he abruptly dropped out of his role in a Broadway production of the play "Speed-the-Plow," claiming that he was suffering from mercury poisoning after years of heavy sushi consumption.
The film-within-a-film, Habeas Corpus, features a prison gas chamber scene with Susan Sarandon as a saintly onlooker. Sarandon starred as Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking (1995), directed by Tim Robbins.
Greta Scacchi's character's name, Gudmundsdottir, is not really a last name. In Icelandic tradition there are no family names - one takes his or her father's name and adds -son or -dottir. She is therefore "June, daughter of Gudmund." (In Icelandic, it is pronounced more or less "Gvuth-munds-dokh-teer," stressed on the first syllable.)
While in the office of Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins, Detective Avery (played by Whoopi Goldberg) asks if she can hold one of the Oscars won by the studio. Goldberg herself is an actual Oscar winner (for Ghost (1990)); Robbins would win one 11 years later for Mystic River (2003).
Bruce Willis and Brion James also co-starred in Striking Distance (1993), released the year after The Player (1992). Respective directors Rowdy Herrington and Robert Altman's first names not only start with the same letter, but the second letter is the same too.