Quentin Tarantino met Robert Forster in a restaurant and handed him the script, saying "You're going to do this, and that's all there is to it". Forster was naturally thrilled, having had a major career slump. This film saw him come back in a big way, even landing an Oscar nomination.
When Robert De Niro first got a hold of the script he wanted to play the role of Max Cherry. Quentin Tarantino wanted to work with De Niro but had his heart set on Robert Forster as Cherry, so he gave the role of Louis to De Niro.
Pam Grier didn't expect her long-time friend Sid Haig to play the judge. She started to burst out laughing as she was surprised by Haig because they both starred together in a number of exploitation films, by which this film's style was influenced.
Spike Lee publicly criticized Tarantino for the frequent use of the word "nigger" in the film. Samuel L. Jackson, previously a frequent Lee collaborator, defended Tarantino in the press. Miramax chairman Harvey Weinstein called Lee in an attempt to mediate between him and Tarantino but Lee refused to speak with Tarantino.
On the Special Edition features, Prop Master Steve Joyner reveals what $500k in cash actually looks like. Joyner goes on to say that Quentin Tarantino insisted on authenticity, hence the actual sum of money.
Louis and Ordell first appeared in the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch. At age 15 Quentin Tarantino was arrested for shoplifting this book, his one brush with "real" crime. In The Switch, Louis and Ordell kidnap a millionaire's wife only to discover he doesn't want her back, a plot that was used in Ruthless People (1986). In the novel's sequel, Rum Punch, Louis and Ordell complain that the movie producers stole their idea (without mentioning the movie by name).
The music used in the scene in the mall where Jackie comes out of the dressing room "frantically" looking around for the undercover cops is the same as was used in the chase scene in Coffy (1973), where Pam Grier's title character is running away from the cops.
When Ordell Robbie first goes to Max Cherry's office and is asked if he has the cash for the bond, he responds "I got it right here in my brand new raptor bag." Although the logo is partially obscured, it is clearly that of the Toronto Raptors. Actor Samuel L. Jackson was frequently courtside at Toronto Raptor games the season before filming Jackie Brown.
In the closing credits, Tarantino gives special thanks to "Bert D'Angelo's Daughter" (among others). In the late 70's, Paul Sorvino starred in a TV detective show, Bert D'Angelo/Superstar (1976). Thus "Bert D'Angelo's Daughter" is Paul's daughter and Tarantino's girlfriend, Mira Sorvino.
Robert Forster's father, whom he loved dearly, got the good news of his son's return to acting in a feature film and spent a short time on set. Sadly, he passed away before Robert received his Oscars nomination.
Before starting in the film, Robert De Niro was originally going to be in the Quentin Tarantino written film True Romance (1993) as Blue Lou Boyle, the superior of the mob that is chasing Clarence and Alabama to reclaim their cocaine from them. But his scenes ended up being cut out of the final film due to changes and running time.
When Ordell first meets Max Cherry in his office, clearly visible beyond Max's desk is a large poster for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for which Robert Forster's father, Robert Wallace Foster, Sr., once worked as an elephant trainer.
Melanie (Bridget Fonda) watches a movie called "The Mad Dog Killer", starring Helmut Berger. She also mentions the actor by name. Fonda and Berger had previously started together in The Godfather Part III (1990).
The inn where Ordell and Louis have a drink is called The Cockatoo Inn. The neon light letters t-o-o are out, so it spells The Cocka Inn: cocaine, a hint to the bags of cocaine found in Jackie's bag in the beginning of the movie.
According to Quentin Tarantino, 70's actress Carol Speed originally helped out in making this film and was willing to play a small cameo part in the film. At the last minute, Tarantino decided not to use her in the film.
During a scene wherein Max Cherry (Robert Forster) is searching for a Delfonic's cassette tape in a record store, the song "Letter to the Firm" by hip-hop artist Foxy Brown can be heard blaring loudly on the store's PA system. Pam Grier (who portrayed the lead character Jackie Brown) is most known for her roles in several low budget "blacksploitation" films from the '70s, particularly her starring role in the 1974 film Foxy Brown.
During the interrogation scene where Jackie is taken into custody - Det. Dargas stated that anyone in possession of over $10,000 should declare it to U.S. Customs - this is based on the regulations coded by the Internal Revenue Service under Title 26 (tax code, enacted August 16, 1954 known as the Internal Revenue Code Act later amended in 1986 under the Tax Reform Act) and under Title 31 USC 5311 of the United States Code. It is against IRS regulations for an individual to carry over $10,000 in currency (in this case, a cash transaction) without reporting it to U.S. Customs when entering the United States. This is further codified under Federal Law under 31 U.S.C. 5316 and Treasury Department regulations (31 CFR Chapter X) - individuals who enter the United States with over $10,000 in cash (or other monetary instruments e.g. stocks, bonds) must file (after April 25,1990) a FinCEN 105 document. FinCEN is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is a division of the Department of the Treasury.