The film was released in Germany under the title "Lebende Ziele", which translates to "Living Purposes." It can also be translated as "Living Targets". Purposes is not often translated as "Ziele". That use of "Ziel" would be more a goal, not a purpose, and that makes not much sense for this movie. Then again German translations often miss any kind of double meanings in original movie names.
Agent Dale Shelby spends the night in a hotel room with three films taken from the crime scene she visited that day. The films are Alien (1979), True Romance (1993) and Swingers (1996). "Alien" was directed by this film's producer Ridley Scott, "True Romance" was directed by Tony Scott, also a producer on this film and Ridley Scott's brother, and "Swingers" starred this film's lead actor, Vince Vaughn.
Janeane Garofalo said in an interview that her biggest reason for taking the role of Agent Dale Shelby was her feeling that the film needed a strong leading female character to "take the edge off" the occasional violence against women on screen.
The film was titled "Il Sapore del sangue" for its release in Italy. The title translates to "The Taste of Blood", referring to the scene where Lester licks his finger after cutting it on a kitchen knife.
Star Joaquin Phoenix was at first apprehensive about taking the role of Clay because he feared that the scripts combination of humor and violence wouldn't translate well to screen. However, Phoenix changed his mind after meeting an enthusiastic David Dobkin and took the role.
Though never spoken in the film the name of the town where it's set is Mercer, Montana according to the script. The local population of the fictional town is 1,536 - though it drops over the course of the film.