Daniel Day-Lewis & Liam Neeson replaced each other in projects that were both grounded in development for years. Neeson was set to play the lead role of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (2012) for years while it was stuck in development. When Neeson dropped out of the project, Day-Lewis was brought in as his replacement. Ironically, Neeson would replace Day-Lewis in this film after Day-Lewis was set to play the role of Father Ferreira for years while it too was stuck in development.
When the project was announced, Daniel Day-Lewis, Gael García Bernal and Benicio Del Toro were cast in the lead roles. Day-Lewis was originally set to play Father Ferreira, Bernal was initially set to play Father Rodrigues, & Del Toro was formerly set to play Father Francisco Garrpe. They all dropped out of the project after repeated delays in the production's development. Bernal & Del Toro were replaced by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver respectively while Liam Neeson replaced Day-Lewis.
Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Jay Cocks had written an early draft of the film in the 1990s with the intention of Scorsese directing it after Gangs of New York (2002). But when Scorsese couldn't get financing for the project, he decided instead to do The Aviator (2004).
The story is based on actual historical facts, but while keeping the character name of the hero's mentor Father Ferreira who was an actual historical figure, author Shusaku Endo changed the nationality of hero who historically was an Italian called Giuseppe Cara to Portuguese, thus making him the same nationality as Ferreira, and gave him the fictional name of Sebastian Rodrigo (in the English translation, translated as Rodrigues).
On August 22, 2012, Cecchi Gori Pictures sued Martin Scorsese and his Sikelia Productions over the film. Scorsese had been talking about directing an adaptation since 1980s and entered the first of many written agreements in 1990. At the time, it was to be the next feature Scorsese directed after Kundun (1997). He then opted to direct a series of features rather than the film in question, including Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004), allegedly agreeing to direct the the film after the latter, which didn't happen. Following another negotiation, Scorsese agreed to pay various fees after each feature he directed prior to the adaptation including The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010) and Hugo (2011). When Scorsese agreed to direct The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) in 2012, Cecchi Gori Pictures filed suit claiming two breaches of written contract, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation. The final two charges stemmed from the beliefs that Scorsese and Sikelia Productions falsely represented their plans to make the film in question after "Hugo," which included $1.5 million, plus 20% of all "back-end" compensation received by the director, related to "Hugo." Scorsese claimed that the lawsuit "has all the earmarks of a media stunt," and for a while it looked like the film was caught in limbo until January 17, 2014 when the sides came to a mutual agreement in a legal settlement. Silence (2016) was finally in production, solidifying its spot as Scorsese's next feature following "The Wolf of Wall Street."
According to producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff, this shoot was as grueling as any she and Scorsese had ever experienced. Weather conditions in Taiwan were inhospitable due to the production being daylight-dependent. No luxuries to fall back on in terms of additional budgetary funding.
Martin Scorsese was given the novel "Silence" by the Rev. Paul Moore back in 1988. Rev. Not a Roman Catholic, Rev. Moore was the most renowned liberal Protestant Episcopal priest of his time, when he served as the Bishop of the Diocese of New York.
Tadanobu Asano, Liam Neeson & Andrew Garfield have portrayed comic book characters. Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005) & The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Garfield as Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) & The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). Asano as Hogun in Thor (2011) & Thor: The Dark World (2013).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
After Andrew Garfields character apostatizes, a rooster can be heard crowing three times. In the Bible, after Peter denies Jesus, it is written that a rooster crowed three times. (A rooster crowed after Peter denied Jesus three times. It didn't crow three times after Peter denied him.)