Uma Thurman's character is named Irene Cassini. Cassini is the surname of the 17th century Italian astronomer, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who discovered the prominent gap in Saturn's main rings, as well as the icy moons, Iapetus, Dione, Rhea, and Tethys. The space mission in Gattaca is destined for Saturn. In 1997, NASA launched the Cassini space probe bound for Saturn. It carried the Huygens space probe, which was dropped into Titan in early 2005, and discovered ground under the clouds.
Jude Law's character asks to be called by his middle name, Eugene. "Eugene" comes from the Greek for "well born," which he is. "Eugenics" (the science of improving the hereditary qualities of a race or breed) is the central theme of the film.
When Gattaca was first released, as part of a marketing campaign there were adverts for people to call up and have their children genetically engineered. Thousands of people called, wanting to have their offspring genetically engineered.
The piece played by the six-fingered pianist is based on Impromptu in G Flat Major, Op. 90, No. 3. by Franz Schubert (1797-1828). However, the creators did a beautiful job embellishing the piece with additional notes/harmonies so that it "can only be played with twelve" fingers, as the Uma Thurman character notes.
The cars driven by the "Hoovers" are Rover P6's (sometimes called the Rover 2000) built in Britain from 1963 until 1976. They were extremely popular with the police force in Britain where the 3.5 litre V8-engined model was used as a high speed interceptor. Three of the four P6 Rovers in the movie were North American market 3500S versions of the 3.5 litre V8 with triple hood scoops. The fourth was a North American 2000TC with triple hood scoops added by Columbia Pictures. All four of the cars had triple hood scoops.
Some interiors and exteriors of the Gattaca building belong, in reality, to the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, CA. It was designed by American star architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957. The largest Wright design ever constructed, it was largely built after his death in 1959. The central dome (prominent in the roof-cleaning scene) contains the county library.
The FBI agents are called "Hoovers," a reference to legendary top-G-man J. Edgar Hoover, but also a clever reference to a vacuum cleaner brand. There are numerous shots of vacuums being used to gather DNA evidence.
The film was shot under the title "The Eighth Day". This was a reference to the Biblical creation story, which states that the earth was created in six days and on the seventh day, God rested. The original title implies the tampering of man with what God has already made, and "The Eighth Day" is still the name of the center in the movie where the children are engineered, as noted on the DVD deleted scenes. By the time the much-delayed release of the film came around, the same title had been used by the Belgian film The Eighth Day. Because of this, writer-director Andrew Niccol was forced to choose a new title for his film.
Many of the "futuristic" buildings in the film are actually quite old. Many of these represent a type of postmodern architecture called "brutalism", which was popular in the 1950s. The two massive arches seen behind Jerome and Irene during their talk are actually the spillway of the Sepulveda Dam in Los Angeles, which was built in the 1930s.
While it has been identified that "GATTACA" uses the 4 DNA nucleotide abbreviations of G,A,T,C, more specifically, when identifying genetic markers, the tests measure "short tandem repeats" at specific DNA marker locations. These are known as "GATA or CA" repeats - hence GATTACA.
The icons used to denote a Valid versus an In-Valid have significant meaning. On the scanners, an infinity symbol appears next a Valid's name, denoting their "infinite potential." Next to an In-Valid's name, a dagger appears. In taxonomy, a dagger next to a taxon indicates extinction. In addition, the dagger symbol resembles a cross, a reference to In-Valids being referred to as "God Children" (As Irene states when Vincent reveals his true identity to her).