Harvey Keitel and Jennifer Jason Leigh originally played Victor Ziegler and Marion Nathanson. After Keitel and Leigh had shot some scenes, Keitel left the production due to his obligations to another project. His scenes needed to be re-shot, but Leigh was not available to re-shoot them (due to a scheduling conflict with eXistenZ). Consequently, Sydney Pollack and Marie Richardson were brought in to play the respective roles.
According to writer Frederic Raphael, the final form of Bill's family name (Harford, as opposed to Scheuer in the original story) was inspired by a debate about Bill's character. Raphael felt Bill should be Jewish as in the original, but Stanley Kubrick insisted Bill and Alice be "vanilla" Americans, without any details that would arouse any presumptions. Kubrick said that Bill should be a bit like Harrison Ford - hence the name Harford. Ironically, Ford himself is Jewish on his mother's side.
In order for the film to be given an R rating in America, some scenes contain computer-generated people in the foreground obscuring some of the more explicit sexual action. Although some claimed this to be a perversion of 'Stanley Kubrick''s work, Kubrick had already proposed the use of computer-generated imagery prior to his death, should the MPAA deny the movie its desired R-rating.
The password "fidelio" (from the Latin root "fidelis" meaning "faithful") refers to Ludwig van Beethoven's only opera, "Fidelio". In the opera, Fidelio is a woman who disguises herself as a man to save her lover.
In the film, Todd Field plays a character who dropped out of medical school ten years earlier and now plays the piano. Ten years before this film was released, Field played a pianist who dropped out of medical school in Gross Anatomy which starred Matthew Modine who played "Joker" in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.
A real estate agent's sign that appears briefly in shot at the end of a street carries the name Vitali. The newspaper article that Bill reads announcing the death of Mandy mentions that she was a model and that she had been involved with a designer named Leon Vitali. Leon Vitali is one of Kubrick's longest-serving colleagues and also plays Red Cloak.
The tremendous hype around the release of this film resulted in several rumors about the plot. The most widely circulated rumor was that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman played married psychiatrists having affairs with their patients.
When Bill enters his apartment for the last time (right before he discovers the mask on his pillow) we can see a stack of Stanley Kubrick videos from on the long table under the painting. The one on the top is Full Metal Jacket.
The letters and the newspaper read by Tom Cruise are written in Italian for the Italian version of this movie. Apparently, Stanley Kubrick shot those scenes with papers written in different languages, as he did for The Shining.
While VHS and region 2 DVD editions sold in Great Britain, Germany and France have always been completely uncensored the original region 1 DVD contained the USA theatrical cut which contained computer-generated people in the foreground obscuring some of the more explicit sexual action during the orgy sequence. However the USA version of 2007 double DVD special edition (encoded, as now appears to be Warner Bros. standard practice, for regions 1, 2, 3 & 4) contains the full uncensored European theatrical print, making it the first time Stanley Kubrick's final cut has been made directly available in any form to customers in the USA.
The film was "pushed" two stops in processing, thus enabling Stanley Kubrick to film using existing source lighting (table lamps, overhead lights, etc.) whenever possible. The light level remained low even when lighting had to be supplemented with Lowell or Chinese paper ball lamps as fill or key lights.
Due to Stanley Kubrick's fear of travel virtually the entire film was shot in and near London (despite the movie's New York setting). Elaborate street sets built at Pinewood Studios were used for all the scenes showing Tom Cruise walking around the city.
Stanley Kubrick and director of photography Larry Smith tested out different film stocks and finally settled on one that had been discontinued by Kodak. As a courtesy, Kodak offered to supply as many rolls of this film as would be needed for the project.
The article Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) is reading in the café titled "Ex-beauty queen dies in hotel drugs overdose" credits "Larry Celona" as the article's author. Larry Celona was the journalistic advisor for the film.
When Tom Cruise's character returns to the Mansion the Mysterious/Sinister music that is heard was first used in the 1946 'David Niven' film, Stairway to Heaven when Niven's character is being judged in heaven.
Tom Cruise and Sky du Mont, who plays Sandor Szavost both have something in common besides this movie. Sky Dumont played the character Claus Von Stauffenberg in War and Remembrance, in the Project Valkyrie Chapter, and Cruise played the same character in Valkyrie (2008), directed by Bryan Singer.
Harford's wallet is quite full at the beginning of the film but later it's clear that he's very outmatched financially. When he arrives home and his wife and daughter are doing homework, they're working a math problem about two individuals that have different amounts of money.
Director Stanley Kubrick reportedly watched movies like Showgirls, Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction during the editing phase, to get the idea of how explicit the sex scenes in the movie could be and still retain the R-rated movie he had contractually agreed to deliver.
When Bill Harford watches television in his living room apartment, an American professional football game is on. The game is also on when he enters the Sonata Café. Stanley Kubrick was a huge NFL fan, as he reportedly received VHS recordings of matches taped by his friends back in the United States when he lived in England.
Abigail Good, a runway model who plays the mysterious woman that intervenes at the ceremony and is led away to an uncertain future, spoke her lines during filming, but her voice was dubbed by another actress in final production.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Near the end of the movie, when Dr. Harford enters the coffee shop, we hear Mozart's Requiem - a mass for the dead. It is at this point that the music swells and Dr. Harford picks up the newspaper to find that the prostitute that he has been searching for has been found dead of a drug overdose.