Brad Pitt and Eric Bana did not use stunt doubles for their epic duel. They made a gentlemen's agreement to pay for every accidental hit; $50 for each light blow and $100 for each hard blow. Pitt ended up paying Bana $750, and Bana didn't owe Pitt anything.
As Achilles strolls along the beach, among the unpacking Greeks, he teases Odysseus about being the last one to show up. This is an in-joke for those familiar with the Odyssey. Odysseus was the last Greek to return home from Troy because he clashed with various gods.
Historians are sharply divided about whether or not the Trojan War actually occurred, and if it did, which archaeological site is actually Troy. Discoveries at the beginning of the 21st century provide new evidence of several armed battles in the right area at the right time, but definitive proof is hard to find, largely due to the historical practice of building one city on the ruins of another. Homer's Illiad (and similar epics depicting the Trojan War) were written hundreds of years after the Trojan War supposedly occurred, and are of little use in determining factual historical events because they include many mythological elements. One theory is that the Troy of Homer's lifetime was destroyed by an earthquake, and that the Illiad is a symbolic reinterpretation of that, since a horse is the symbol of the Greek god of earthquakes. The producers decided to eliminate all mythological elements from the story, giving the film an air of historical authenticity not present in the original works.
After the film was announced, the Turkish government and Ministry of Culture and Tourism contacted the producers and suggested the film be shot in Canakkale, Turkey, site of the real Troy. The Turkish government offered sponsorship if the film premiered in Canakkale. It premiered in Berlin, where most historical Trojan artifacts were displayed after being taken from Anatolia.
The Trojan horse prop made for the movie was given to the Turkish government as a gift. It is now exhibited on the boardwalk of Canakkale, a main seaside city where most visitors to the Troy ruins stay. Canakkale is about an hour's ride to the Troy site. (There is another cruder "Trojan horse" also at the Troy site...but it is not the movie prop.)
EASTER EGG:. On the main menu on the special features disc, keep hitting right on the control until a section of the Trojan Horse on screen lights up green and hit enter to show a series of creative animations related to the movie.
According to the special features DVD, 300 buff Bulgarian male extras were transported to the Mexican shooting location and trained for battle scenes so the Greeks and Trojans would look sufficiently European. They supplemented Euro-looking Mexicans and were used in battle close-ups. "Soldier extras" got instructions in Spanish, Bulgarian, and English.
George Camilleri, a bodybuilder who won the title of Mr. Malta in 1989, broke his leg while filming an action sequence at Ghajn Tuffieha, Malta on 30 May 2003. He had surgery the following day, suffered complications, and died on 17 June 2003.
The movie's trailer also contained the shot revealing the entire Greek fleet sailing towards Troy, but it had substantially more ships in it. When it became clear that this would be unrealistic (ships sailing so close to one another would only hinder each other), the number of ships in the shot was drastically reduced in the finished movie.
Nigel Terry plays Archeptolemus - the Oracle who interprets the signs of war for Peter O'Toole's character Priam - previously appeared with O'Toole in 1967's The Lion In Winter. Terry played slow-witted son John to O'Toole's King Henry II.
When Paris is helping the citizens of Troy escape, he hands Priam's sword to a young man named Aeneas and tells him that as long as the sword is in the hands of a son of Troy, the Trojans will survive. This is an obvious reference to Publius Vergilius Maro's (Virgil's) epic poem, The Aeneid, which tells the story of a prince of Troy named Aeneas leading the survivors of Troy through a series of hardships before settling in Italy, where his descendants establish Rome 5 centuries later. According to 'The Iliad', Aeneas was the son of Venus, and the second greatest warrior the Trojans fielded during the war. The man he is assisting must be Anchises, King of Dardania and father of Aeneas. In his youth Anchises had been crippled by a thunderbolt from Zeus. Aeneas escaped the burning Troy while carrying his elderly father on his back.
In Homer's time, archers were looked down upon because they did not fight their opponent on equal terms. Paris, the weakest and least brave, is an experienced archer, and kills Achilles with his arrows. Achilles, the best fighter of all, was never beaten in an open duel.
There are several differences between Homer's Iliad and this movie. In the poem, Achilles is immortal except for his heels. The twelve Greek Gods play a major role in the plot; some side with the Greeks and some with the Trojans, even arguing and physically fighting beside their allies. In the poem, neither Menelaus nor Agamemnon dies, and Achilles's death is not mentioned. Ajax also survives the Trojan war. The war lasts 10 years, and the events depicted in the movie take place during the last few months of the war. A Greek named Filoktitis or Philoctetes kills Paris right after he kills Achilles (not part of the Iliad, but part of the Greek mythology). Overall, the Iliad is an account of the feud between Achilles and Agamemnon; all the romantic elements are not as prominent in the poem as they are in the movie.
In Greek mythology, Achilles was immortal except for his heel. When Achilles first storms the beach, he throws his shield onto his back at the same time an arrow is about to hit him, implying that he is completely mortal. At the end, Paris's first arrow hits Achilles directly in the heel, and subsequent arrows hit Achilles in the body. It is very clear that he is killed by the arrow through his heel. The camera specially shows the heel indicating the death shot.
In the original story, Achilles does indeed lash Hector's corpse to his chariot. However, instead of taking it back to the Greek camp as he does in the film, he instead drags it around the walls of Troy for several days in anger.