Officials from Britain's Westminster Abbey refused to allow filming to take place in the Abbey, claiming that the book is "theologically unsound". Instead, the filming took place at Lincoln Cathedral in eastern England.
Near the U.S. Embassy, there is a quick shot of a poster advertising an opera based on "Les Misérables". According to documents, its author, Victor Hugo, is the twenty-fourth Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, serving from 1844 to 1885.
To protect both the fabric of the building, and the works of art it contains, the production's use of the Louvre Museum in Paris was carefully controlled. For instance, no equipment was allowed inside the Louvre during the opening hours, so filming took place at night. Since the crew were not permitted to shine light on the Mona Lisa, a replica was used to film instead. No blood or mysterious writings were permitted on the wooden floor of the museum, so these scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios, outside London. In the end, five replicas of the Mona Lisa were used.
When Teabing (Sir Ian McKellen) is describing the passage in the lost gospel of Philip, he is interrupted before he can finish quoting a line about Jesus kissing Magdelene. During an interview on NPR's "Day to Day", religious historian Elaine Pagels (whose book on the gnostic gospels was a source for Dan Brown's novel) said that the gospel is physically broken at exactly the place that Teabing stops talking, so he would be unable to quote it any further anyway.
Because it was not certain that the movie would be a hit, and that other adaptations of Dan Brown's novels would follow, this film was made as a stand-alone movie, rather than the beginning of a franchise. All references to the fact that Robert Langdon had already solved another murder riddle (in the novel "Angels and Demons", which precedes "The Da Vinci Code") were therefore purposefully left out of the script. When the movie was a huge financial success, production of Angels & Demons (2009) was started shortly after the release (but re-written as a sequel, not a prequel).
Dan Brown named character Sir Leigh Teabing after two of the authors, Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, of the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Leigh is the surname of Richard Leigh and Teabing is an anagram of the surname Baigent. Leigh and Baigent unsuccessfully attempted to sue Brown for copyright infringement.
Brian Grazer and Ron Howard received an invitation from French President Jacques Chirac. They expected a five-minute photo call. Instead, they spent an hour in conversation, and were told to speak to him if they had problems getting filming in the Louvre. Chirac suggested Jean Reno should have a pay raise, and that his daughter's best friend, an actress, should be cast as Sophie Neveu.
Ron Howard always wanted Audrey Tautou for the role of Sophie, but she was never available for an audition. She also originally felt too young to play opposite Tom Hanks. After some convincing from Howard, she auditioned, and got the role.
Ron Howard's first envisioned choice for the role of Robert Langdon was Bill Paxton. Paxton was interested, but turned it down because of scheduling conflicts. Russell Crowe was then seriously considered for the role, but ultimately Howard decided on his long-time friend Tom Hanks for the role. Other actors considered for the part were Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Jackman, and George Clooney.
The close-up shots of the exterior of Rosslyn Chapel are genuine, but the two distant shots of the chapel aren't actually of Rosslyn Chapel. This is because the chapel was swathed in scaffolding when filming took place. The first (overhead) shot looks like a different location entirely, with a chapel that resembles Rosslyn. The second shot, looking up a wooded hillside to the chapel, is indeed a shot of Roslin Glen with the chapel in the right location, but with the other chapel pasted in. The penultimate scene at the ruined castle is indeed filmed at Roslin Castle, a partial-ruin that's a couple of hundred yards from the chapel. It's privately owned, but visitors can easily view the exterior and the bridge which were shown in the film. The chapel is noted for its many internal carvings, including what appears to be a depiction of American maize, but the chapel was completed before 1492.
24 (2001) Creator Joel Surnow thought that "The Da Vinci Code" would provide a great storyline for the show's third season. Surnow asked his boss, Producer Brian Grazer about acquiring the film rights to the book. Dan Brown had no intention of his book being adapted for a television show, and rejected their bid. Several months later, Sony Pictures paid six million dollars for the book, and hired Brian Grazer as Producer.
Near the end of the movie's trailer, the word "SEEK" in the phrase "Seek the Truth" is highlighted. Then, when the cast names are shown, the letters T, H, S, E, C, D, E, and O are highlighted. If you rearrange the highlighted letters and add the word, you get the phrase "SEEK THE CODES".
Thure Lindhardt had booked his first Hollywood movie part as Silas the Albino and for a long time, he was clearly the running favorite until, ultimately, he was discounted on the grounds that he "looked too young", and Ron Howard decided on Paul Bettany. However, Lindhardt later got a significant supporting role in Angels & Demons (2009).
The novel contains a sequence in which Sophie and Langdon escape from a museum guard by Sophie threatening to destroy a Da Vinci painting. These scenes are not in the theatrical release of the film, although they were filmed, and images from the scene are included with the published screenplay. Some of these scenes are restored to the film in the Extended Edition DVD, available in Great Britain (region 2), but as of 2007, not available in the Americas.
In the novel, Dan Brown claims that the Disney film The Little Mermaid (1989) gave its heroine Ariel red hair, as a reference to paganism, and a symbolic grail story. This is inaccurate. Ariel, in fact, had red hair to distinguish her from Madison, in Splash (1984) (the first collaboration between Ron Howard and Tom Hanks). Tom Hanks would eventually go on to play Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (2013).
As with the other two films, author Dan Brown named main character Robert Langdon after John Langdon, a close friend, and typography master, who worked with Brown on ambigram designs for his book "Angels & Demons", as well as the films. John Langdon also designed an ambigram that was used in Monkeyshine (2008).
The movie sparked so much controversy, that its initial release was stalled from the worldwide release in India, owing to the Jesuits' protest. The court overruled the appeal, in favor of the film, citing it was based on a book, implying the book will have had to have been banned, as the books were out in circulation, the movie was rendered harmless.
Sir Ian McKellen concocted a more detailed backstory for Sir Leigh Teabing, in order to help his performance. Some of these ideas are reflected in the art direction of Teabing's château, including a portrait of Teabing's widow.
Cheryl Howard: (At four minutes and fifteen seconds) Ron Howard's wife can be glimpsed as an audience member (center frame, red shoulder-length hair) attending Professor Robert Langdon's lecture on Religious Symbology. (At five minutes and forty seconds) She can be seen clutching her copy of Langdon's autographed opus at his book-signing desk, and asking for him to sign his last book.
Dan Brown: When Robert Langdon is talking with the Police during the signing party for his book. He is seen to the left of Tom Hanks immediately after the line, "We found your name in his daily planner." He is wearing the Harris Tweed jacket from his dust jacket publicity photo. He can also be seen a short time before, at five minutes and nine seconds, when the camera moves through the crowd of people. He is talking to a man, holding one of Langdon's books.
There are sixteen deaths in the theatrical version of the film (not including historical flashbacks): three are stabbed, five shot, two die of a broken neck, one is incinerated, three are killed in a car accident, one dies after head was bashed, and one unknowingly drank alcohol containing traces of peanuts, to which he was severely allergic.
While escaping the police at the airport, Teabing turns and says: "Well, people rarely notice things right in front of their eyes, don't you find?" This may allude to his being the Teacher who is pulling the strings to malevolently reveal the Grail. His quote can also be viewed ironically, as it is revealed later that Sophie is the heir of Christ that Teabing is trying to find, who is "right in front of his eyes".
In the movie, Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) is revealed to be part of a secret group of high ranking Catholic clergymen, that is trying to hunt down and destroy the Grail, for what they consider the betterment of the Church. This deviates from the book, as it is revealed at the end, that there is no secret group, and that the Church only wishes to disassociate itself from this controversial group.
Near the end of the film Sophie says "We are what we protect, I think." Sophie, after standing up to (or in Sophie's case kneeling) Teabing, can be considered a protector of the Grail and Christ's bloodline. A few minutes after her aforementioned quote, it is revealed that Sophie is the living heir to Christ's bloodline, making her literally "what she protects".