The Last Castle (2001) Poster


Originally, Colonel Winter was supposed to smoke cigars. James Gandolfini pleaded with director Rod Lurie to drop the idea because he felt smoking cigars would remind audiences too much of Tony Soprano, his star-making role in The Sopranos (1999).
Mark Ruffalo performed his own stunts during the helicopter battle scene.
James Gandolfini reportedly was reluctant to accept the role of Col. Winter because he didn't understand the story and had never served in the military himself. He committed largely on the strength of a lengthy speech Winter delivered in the original script; ironically, that entire scene was cut from the final film.
Robert Redford had trouble with his saluting at first; it took about 20 takes for him to do it right in the early scene where his character is, ironically, teaching Aguilar how to salute.
The main score of the movie, composed by Jerry Goldsmith, was named "September 11th 2001", because it was recorded on that day. Also, the movie's posters were changed after 9/11 because they showed an American flag flying upside-down; a new poster was put up featuring faces of the cast.
The finished film's storyline for Gen. Irwin and Col. Winter diverted sharply from David Scarpa's original screenplay. While both the script and the film begin by presenting Irwin as the sympathetic lead character and Winter as the bullying antagonist, Scarpa wrote the film's 2nd and 3rd acts to show that Winter was a good man and Irwin was a violent taskmaster who brutalized the other inmates into joining his crusade to get rid of the Colonel. The script was re-written when Robert Redford signed up to the film, with Irwin remaining the generally noble campaigner against Winter's reign of cruelty.
When Irwin is punished by being forced to move a huge pile of rocks, Robert Redford was offered fake featherweight props, but he chose to carry actual rocks to make it more realistic.
One of the medal ribbons on General Irwin's uniform (which he wears when he first arrives at the prison) is the Medal of Honor, the U.S. Military's highest decoration, awarded for acts of extreme bravery in combat. It's the blue one at the top of his rows of ribbons.
During filming breaks James Gandolfini often played chess, which was a theme throughout the movie. Robert Redford read a dictionary or tossed around a baseball or football.
When Irwin tapes pictures of his grandchild on the wall of his cell, they are actually pictures of director Rod Lurie's son Hunter.
In the opening minutes of the movie, Colonel Winters remarks "My God, they should be naming a base after him!", referring to the arriving prisoner General Eugene Irwin. Actually, the US Army already has a Fort Irwin, located in the Mojave Desert in California, although it is named for Major General George LeRoy Irwin.
Mark Ruffalo and Robert Redford would later appear in movies based on Marvel Comic characters. Ruffalo played Bruce Banner in The Avengers (2012) and Redford played Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).
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Winter and Yates are the names of two British chess champions.
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Oliver Hirschbiegel was offered the opportunity to direct but he declined.
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Mark Wahlberg was originally announced for the Mark Ruffalo part.
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