Producers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella both died before the completion of the movie. As the film was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the Academy made an exception from their rules not to name more than three producers as nominees because of this rare circumstance. In the end the two producers Donna Gigliotti and Redmond Morris who took over duties were nominated as well as the posthumously honored Minghella and Pollack.
Stephen Daldry's first choice for the lead role was Kate Winslet, who originally turned down the offer due to a scheduling conflict with Revolutionary Road (2008). When Nicole Kidman accepted the role, the producers built in a hiatus in order to allow her to finish filming Baz Luhrmann's Australia (2008). However, by the time Kidman was set to begin her scenes on the film, she withdrew because of her pregnancy, vacating the role. Winslet, who was now available, agreed to replace Kidman.
The film's original cinematographer was Roger Deakins. From September to October 2007, he shot scenes that didn't feature the character Hanna. After filming was shut down (to give Nicole Kidman, who had been cast as Hanna, time to finish filming Australia (2008) before joining the production), Deakins left to shoot Doubt (2008) and begin pre-production on A Serious Man (2009). Once Kidman withdrew from the film and was replaced by Kate Winslet, filming resumed in March 2008; the new cinematographer, Chris Menges, shot all of Winslet's scenes.
The Latin lines Michael quotes to Hanna are "Quo, quo scelesti ruitis? Aut cur dexteris / aptantur enses conditi?" These are the opening lines of Horace's 7th Epode, a short poem where he expresses outrage at the fact that his countrymen are still engaged in civil war. "Villains, where are you rushing to? Why are your hands / Grasping those swords that were sheathed?" (translation A.S. Kline). The Greek lines he quotes are the opening stanza of Sappho's 16th fragment: (transliterated) "Oi men ippeon stroton, oi de pesdon, / oi de naon phais' epi gan melainan / emmenai kalliston, ego de ken' ot- / to tis eratai". "Some say a host of horsemen, others of infantry, and others of ships, is the most beautiful thing on the dark earth: but I say, it is what you love." (translation Denys Page).
Producer Scott Rudin was originally a producer of the movie but he got into conflict with executive producer Harvey Weinstein. Rudin wanted to push the release date back to 2009 to avoid an Oscar campaign along with Doubt (2008) and Revolutionary Road (2008) both which were also produced by Rudin. Eventually Rudin left the film and had his name removed from the credits. Ironically, The Reader was nominated for an Academy Award 2009 in the Best Picture category (and thus got producer's nominations) but neither Doubt nor Revolutionary Road.