Joey Giardello sued the film's producers for libel over the depiction of his fight with Carter. The case was settled out of court and Norman Jewison agreed to make a statement on the DVD version that, "Giardello no doubt was a great fighter."
Director Norman Jewison showed the film uncompleted at the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival, without credits or proper color. He had been working on the movie the night before it was shown, and submitted it to the festival with the film still splinted together in hundreds of pieces. Before showing the movie he said to the eager audience, "I'm so nervous that the splints may fall apart."
The real Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter is only 5'8" and 155 pounds, being about four inches shorter and nearly forty pounds lighter than Denzel Washington (even when the actor slimmed down to play Hurricane). In actuality, Washington (and the actors who play his opponents in the ring) classify as heavyweights.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
some plot and character points were fictionalized or ignored. Before his murder trial, Carter was convicted of three muggings, and served four years in prison. Carter and Lisa Peters eventually married, and later divorced. Carter did not give a speech in the courtroom when his conviction was overturned, and Lesra was not in attendance. Carter was actually released from prison for four years between his two trial convictions. Carter's conviction was overturned because the prosecution mishandled much of the evidence. When all the evidence from the real case is looked at, it seems more than likely that Carter was guilty of the murders, but got off on a technicality during his second trial. The real Detective Della Pesca, Vincent DeSimone, never met Carter before the Lafayette Grill incident. He also died in 1979, so he never met the Canadian couple, nor did he attend the trial in 1985.