This adaptation of David Baldacci's novel omits the novel's hero: Jack Graham, a lawyer and good friend of Luther and Kate Whitney. In the novel, he outlives Luther, and carries on the battle to clear Luther's name of the murder charge.
The movie features two of Clint Eastwood's daughters in very small roles, Kimber Eastwood (born Kimber Tunis) and Alison Eastwood. The casting of Kimber was eyebrow-raising because Clint had never spoken publicly of her existence. He still hasn't, actually, but her presence in this film and billing under the surname Eastwood constitutes his acknowledgment.
Clint Eastwood has said of this film's development: "I was sent the script by the production team at Castle Rock and I liked it immediately. It was written by William Goldman who is one of the best screenwriters around. He had nicely tightened up the story from the book to fit into a film format while keeping the characters well defined and interesting people."
The house in the beginning of the film is a real castle in Brooklandville, Maryland. It belongs to Maryvale Preparatory school. Classes are held inside, as well as some administration and offices. The carpet and the painting seen hanging were left in the castle after filming was finished.
At the Café Alonzo, when policeman Seth Frank (Ed Harris) and Secret Service Agent Bill Burton (Scott Glenn) are standing inside a building foyer, a plaque on the door of the foyer reads "This Week Only: Carol Glenn Watercolor Exhibition". Carol Glenn is an artist and Scott Glenn's wife of many years. Some of her watercolors can just be glimpsed.
Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman never meet in the course of the film, despite being the protagonist and primary antagonist, respectively. In fact, of the four antagonists, only Dennis Haysbert shares a scene with Eastwood.
This movie, Shadow Conspiracy (1997) and Murder at 1600 (1997), three political murder mystery suspense thrillers centering around the U.S. President and the White House, were released in the same year.
In the 1997 "Film & Video" article "Clint Eastwood: The Actor-Director Reflects on His Continuing Career and New Film, Absolute Power", Clint Eastwood reportedly liked the source novel's plot and characters, but did not like the ones he thought interesting being killed, and asked William Goldman to ensure "everyone the audience likes doesn't get killed off."
According to the DVD's "Behind The Scenes", novelist David Baldacci met Producer Karen S. Spiegel in 1992, the year that Eastwood's Academy Award winning Best Picture Unforgiven (1992) came out. They worked on a three paragraph outline, and four drafts of the screenplay, which became the basis for Baldacci's 1996 novel. Spiegel took the project to Castle Rock Entertainment, whereupon William Goldman was contracted to write the script.
Three of the main cast portrayed astronauts: Scott Glenn and Ed Harris in The Right Stuff (1983), and Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys (2000). Also, Penny Johnson Jerald was on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993).
When entering the crime scene for the second time Gloria Russell (Judy Davis) refers to the two-way mirror. Two-way mirrors are also known as one-way mirrors, since you can only see through them from one side.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In this movie, Gene Hackman played a President who murdered his mistress. In No Way Out (1987), he played a Secretary of Defense who murdered his mistress. The witness of both crimes were played by future Oscar winners: Kevin Costner in the 1987 movie, and Clint Eastwood in this one. Costner and Eastwood won their first two Oscars (Best Picture and Best Director) for directing westerns.