Tom Hiddleston received a letter from Woody Allen, along with 15 pages of the script, offering him the role of F. Scott Fitzgerald. "It was three sentences long," Hiddleston told Entertainment Weekly. "Dear Tom, I'm making a movie in Paris this summer. I attached some pages. I'd love for you to play the role of Scott." Hiddleston now has the letter framed and hanging up in his home office.
Corey Stoll was understandably nervous about playing not only the famous Ernest Hemingway, but also this particular version of Hemingway. Adding to that the fact that Woody Allen doesn't rehearse, when Stoll had to do his first scene, he didn't know whether or not he was doing the right choices as an actor. When the scene was shot, Allen made him at ease because he told him: "That was perfect. That was exactly what I wanted." Allen is known for not giving many compliments to the actors, arguing that the fact that he cast them proves he trusts their talent.
For Gil's difficult and demanding fiancée, Inez, Woody Allen says he had Rachel McAdams in mind as he was writing. And when he pitched her the part, he told her, "It would be much more interesting for you to play this kind of character. You don't want to go your whole life playing these beautiful girls. You want to play some bitchy parts. It's much more interesting for you." Despite this, McAdams had already had her share of playing "bitchy parts" prior to playing Inez, such as her roles in The Hot Chick (2002) as Jessica Spencer, Mean Girls (2004) as Regina George and The Family Stone (2005) as Amy Stone.
When casting for the movie, Woody Allen knew that he needed a French actress for Adriana so his first choice was Marion Cotillard. When Allen asked Cotillard to be a part of his movie, she was at home and talked with him for over an hour. When the conversation ended, Cotillard said: "Oh, my God, I've been talking to Woody Allen - that was Woody Allen's voice!"
This is the first Woody Allen film to go through a digital intermediate, instead of being color timed in the traditional photochemical way. According to Allen, its use here is a test to see if he likes it enough to use on his future films.
When Zelda Fitzgerald suggests to Gil that they leave the party and go to Bricktop's, she is referring to Chez Bricktop, the famous Paris nightclub run by Ada Bricktop Smith. Ada Smith appeared as herself in Woody Allen's Zelig (1983) as one of the modern-day "witnesses".
Woody Allen did not attend the 2012 Oscars Ceremony to receive the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, continuing his trend of never appearing at the event. Allen is not a member of the Academy though he did appear at the 2002 Oscars ceremony for a tribute to New York films after the September 11 bombings.
Carla Bruni, who plays the tour guide at the Rodin Museum, was also the First Lady of France at the time of filming (she has been married to then-President of France Nicholas Sarkozy since February 2008).
When Woody Allen had enough budget to shoot the movie in 2006, he contacted his preferred cast but many were working on different projects and couldn't commit. When Owen Wilson's name came up for the leading role, Allen rewrote the character to fit.
With four nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction and Best Original Screenplay), this picture is the most Oscar nominated Woody Allen film since Bullets Over Broadway (1994) which got seven Oscar nominations.
Woody Allen won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for this film. The Oscar was Allen's fourth and the first he had won since Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) 25 years earlier. Allen received two Oscar nominations for this movie, the other being for Best Director, they being his 22nd and 23rd nominations. Additionally, this is his first film since Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) to earn a Best Picture nomination.
According to Kurt Fuller when his agent called him about a role in the film, his agent had said that Woody Allen was interested in casting him in the film, which Fuller initially thought was a joke. Fuller was told by his agent to expect someone to arrive at his home, of which someone did with a manila envelope and instructed Fuller that they'd wait until Fuller read the 30 pages that was in the envelope before he had to return the script back. Fuller said there was a note attached to it, personally written by Allen that said "Kurt: thought you might have fun with this. If not, maybe something else down the road. Woody.". Fuller said that the script was blacked out, save for the lines Fuller was reading. Fuller simply responded back on the note to Allen "Are you kidding me? I love it! It would be so great!" when returning the script. Fuller said despite the low pay and it actually cost him to work on the film, he hasn't had to audition for a project since, but only gets offers for work now.
Director Woody Allen attempted to shoot the film in Paris in 2006, but abandoned the project as it was too expensive. In this version, the lead would have been played by David Krumholtz. (As mentioned on the Knocked Up (2007) DVD extras).
The streets and area where Gil gets lost the first time before he settles down on the steps are in the 5th arondissement: Rue Édouard Quenu, Pascal, and Bazeilles. The Moisan "Pain au Naturel" bakery has since closed and is now called Saines Saveurs.
Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard and Kathy Bates were on the long list for a BAFTA nomination (as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively), for their performances in the film, but didn't make the final cut.
Gil and the Fitzgeralds visit the nightclub Chez Bricktop, which was owned and operated by the singer and dancer Bricktop from 1924 to 1961. Bricktop previously made a cameo appearance as herself in another Woody Allen film Zelig (1983), in which she claimed that the title character Leonard Zelig (played by Allen) frequented her club in the 1920s.
Apparently, Cary Grant almost came out of retirement in the 1970s to make this film when the script was at a very early stage. He was very keen to work with Allen and even visited Michaels' Pub unannounced, where Allen would play the clarinet every Monday night, to discuss the role.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Probably inspired by the Moberly-Jourdain incident in 1901 in which two academics, Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, claimed to have experienced a timeslip into pre-revolutionary France on the grounds of Versailles.
Gil discovers that a woman with whom he had been dancing was Djuna Barnes, who in 1936 published her now-classic novel Nightwood. Gil's remark about Barnes wanting to lead when they danced is an oblique reference to Barnes's bisexuality and the lesbian subject matter of Nightwood. Woody Allen also named the main character of his movie Everyone Says I Love You (1996) (which was also set partly in Paris) after Djuna Barnes.
The "Alice" who opens the door at Gertrude Stein's apartment is meant to be Alice B. Toklas, who was Stein's longtime romantic companion from September 8, 1907 (the day Toklas first arrived in Paris) until Stein's death on July 27, 1946.
The movie's key art incorporates Vincent van Gogh's famous painting "Starry Night." Interestingly, the character of van Gogh does not appear in the film, though he could well have done so in the "Belle Epoque" sequence.
This is the second film Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams have starred in together. The first being Wedding Crashers (2005). In that film, Owen Wilson's character falls in love with Rachel McAdams' character whom is engaged to Sach Lodge (Bradley Cooper) who is mean to her and cheats on her behind her back. In this film, Owen Wilson's character is engaged to Rachel McAdams' character whom is mean to him and cheats on him behind his back.