The voices of the unseen studio executives during the first screenwriting scene (and the one later in the film) are all famous directors, including Garry Marshall, Paul Mazursky, Sydney Pollack, Rob Reiner, and Carl Reiner (although Carl is more famous for his comedic acting). All of these directors are also known their occasional acting forays.
For the scene from "Sand Pirates of the Sahara" (the "film-within-the-film" that restores Peter's memory) the statue with which Prince Khalid knocks out Professor Meredith is the same golden precolumbian idol that Indiana Jones collects in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Steven Spielberg is thanked in the closing credits for lending the prop to the production.
At one point, while the characters in the film are examining a store-front display of World War II heroes, a photograph of several men in uniform is shown. This photo is of actual soldiers that fought in World War II, all of whom made their home at the location of the film shoot, Ferndale, California.
Several names in the movie are connected to real-life persons involved in Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch hunt" investigations. The town of Lawson is named for screenwriter John Howard Lawson who stood up to HUAC and ended the Red Scare. Another writer, Lester Cole, gives his surname to the mayor. Luke Trimble is named for blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Appleton is named for Senator McCarthy's Wisconsin home town. The movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), seen briefly in the epilogue, is considered a metaphor for the McCarthy policies.
The scriptwriter Michael Sloane is a close schoolfriend of Frank Darabont. He also doubles as Kindly Old Professor Meredith in The Majestic's film within a film, Sand Pirates of the Sahara. He first showed Darabont the script back in 1999 and while he wanted to make the film, Darabont was already committed to The Green Mile (1999). As soon as it was finished, he got to work on The Majestic (2001).
Neither the Majestic nor Mabel's Diner actually exist in Ferndale, where the movie was filmed. However, the newspaper office for the Lawson Beacon (across the street from the WWII memorial) is the actual newspaper office for the Ferndale Enterprise. The sheriff's office and city hall were facades built over opposite ends of the U.S. Bank building in town. The facade of The Majestic was built over a city parking lot. Only the facade and lobby were used for filming at that location. The indoor sets were built in buildings at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds.
The fictitious credits for "Sand Pirates of the Sahara," the film-within-a-film, include director Ferenc Arpad, a Hungarian translation of the first and middle name of Frank Darabont, and actor Ramon Jamon, Spanish for ham.
Frank Darabont: As previously pointed out, the names of Heywood and Floyd are often used by Frank Darabont as a reference to 2001 a Space Odyssey and Brian Libby plays a character named Hal which is also a reference to 2001 a Space Odyssey. Frank Darabont also directed The Shawshank Redemption where Brian Libby plays a character named Floyd, and there was another character named Heywood played by William Sadler.
Jim Carrey and Laurie Holden dated in 2001 when The Majestic was made, and later starred in Dumb and Dumber To in 2014. Jim Carrey dated his co-star Lauren Holly in 1994/95 when the first Dumb and Dumber movie was made...Holly and Holden share striking physical similarities, as well as the same initials L.H.
The poster for 'Sand Pirates of the Sahara' that Peter sees at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre at the start of the film is the exactly same one that is later put up in the lobby of the Majestic. They both are shown as being number 51 of 347. Promotional materials are distributed with the prints of the films to be shown and returned after use. It is improbable that it would be exactly the same copy, but possibly it was deliberate and intended to reinforce the resurfacing of Peter's previous life, rather than just a production oversight.
Luke's father Harry is shown projecting the 1925 silent film "The Big Parade"on the torn screen while Emmett Smith (Gerry Black) watches in the theater holding his dog, reminiscing about France and World War I. The scene shown is Melisande desperately trying to hold onto James as he is being sent up to the front lines. Despite its importance, "The Big Parade" is not named in the film.
Features future The Walking Dead stars such as Cliff Curtis who plays Travis in the Fear The Walking Dead spin-off and two former Walking Dead stars, Jeffery DeMunn who formally played Dale and Laurie Holden who formally played Andrea.
Matt Damon: The first choice for the lead role (turned down to star in The Bourne Identity (2002)), provides the voice of Albert Lucas "Luke" Trimble's farewell letter. Many of his lines were written in 1861 by Major Sullivan Ballou, 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, to his wife in Smithfield, a week before he was killed at the First Bull Run Battle.
Frank Darabont: [Heywood Floyd] Heywood and Floyd are the names of two studio executives. Heywood Floyd is a space explorer in books and movies written by Arthur C. Clarke, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and 2010 (1984). The studio guard named Hal, played by Brian Libby, is a possible reference to the sentient computer from the same Clarke stories.