Originally, 20th Century Fox was to finance the film, but disputes arose between the studio and the producers over casting. In particular, Fox preferred a more well-known actress to play Katharine Clifton instead of Kristin Scott Thomas; Demi Moore was lobbying particularly hard for the role. After the producers refused to give in on a series of casting choices, Fox backed out of the film, and the project was uncertain just as production was about to begin. However, within a few weeks - during which the cast and crew stayed on in Italy without knowing if the film would be made - the film was picked up by Miramax.
In 2005, Juliette Binoche had her Oscar touched up by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her three-year-old son was fond of playing with it and it had subsequently become tarnished and peeling. One of the perks of being an Oscar-winner is that you can have your Oscar repaired for free by the Academy.
Both Naveen Andrews and Kevin Whately had to learn to ride motorcycles for the film. There was some concern that Andrews would not pass his test before filming began but he completed his course successfully.
Anthony Minghella read the novel in one sitting after completing a previous shoot in New York; when he finished, he was completely disoriented and at first couldn't remember where he was, but he phoned Saul Zaentz the next morning to try and interest him in the project. Saul Zaentz not only read the book but discovered that author Michael Ondaatje was giving a reading near Saul Zaentz's home that weekend.
The motorcycle that Kip rides throughout the film, sometimes with Hana, is a Triumph 350cc 3HW. Triumph was the make of motorcycle actually specified in the original novel upon which the film is based.
The character name, 'Kip', apparently was Michael Ondaatje's nickname at school. This was a reference to cooking oil stains on his exercise books which reminded the wags among his fellow pupils of kipper fish which were canned in such oil.
Was the first digitally-edited film to win an Academy Award for Best Film Editing (Walter Murch). Murch began editing the film mechanically, but then switched to the Avid system after his son suffered a medical emergency so that he could work from his home while his son recovered. Murch writes about the experience in his book "In the Blink of an Eye (2nd Ed.)."
When Kip (Naveen Andrews) is packing his things before he leaves he also packs up the belongings of Hardy (Kevin Whately). Among the belongings is a scarf for Sunderland AFC (a football club based in North East England). In real life the actor Kevin Whately is a committed, life-long supporter of Newcastle United Football Club who share a heated rivalry with Sunderland AFC.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Hana is very distressed when Kip is called on to disarm a bomb since she fears she will never see him again. When Kip is with the bomb he reads off its serial number which starts with "K-K-I-P..." The bomb literally has his name on it.