The scene where Nick the Greek breaks the glass in the coffee table was not in the original script. It was, in fact, an accident that happened during filming and was written in by Guy Ritchie as an afterthought.
The ending to the film was altered some time after filming had been completed which is why Tom is wearing a woolen cap pulled low down - Jason Flemyng had grown his hair in the intervening period and did not want to shave it short again. (See also goofs)
Lenny McLean was ill during filming with what he believed was the flu. After filming had ended he was hospitalized and initially told that he had pleurisy. However, tests revealed that he had lung cancer which had metastasized to his brain.
The film was having trouble finding an American distributor when Trudie Styler called an acquaintance of hers - Tom Cruise. He attended a screening and loved the film. Matthew Vaughn later recalled, "It was hysterical. You had all these mid-level executives sitting there, and Cruise walked in. He saw them all sit up and pay attention, all getting on their phones, and suddenly all these senior executives joined the screening ... At the end, Tom got up in front of everyone and said 'This is the best movie I've seen in years, you guys would be fools not to buy it.'"
When Nick the Greek and Tom are haggling over the price of the stereo, Nick says "All right, all right, keep your Alans on!" The "Alans" in question is cockney rhyming slang, short for Alan Whicker: Alan Whicker=Knickers.
The music that plays just before Hatchet Harry shoots Gary with the antique shotgun is from For a Few Dollars More (1965). It's from a pocket watch that Del Indio would play, and when the music stopped he would draw and shoot someone.
Jason Flemyng later claimed to have lost so much money while playing poker with the film's backers in between takes on set that he had to work on the four days of re-shoots the film required for no fee.
Madonna liked the film's soundtrack so much that she contacted Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn and asked if her label, Maverick, could release the film's soundtrack in the U.S. Ironically, Ritchie said she "wined and dined" them in Hollywood a few times, but that it was Vaughn she was romantically interested in, not him.
The bar that is used as J.D.'s bar in the movie is really called Vic Naylors, it is exactly as it is seen in the film (apart from the sign on the front of course). It is situated in an area of London called Farringdon and is opposite the old Smithfield meat market.
Trudie Styler was the one who found the screenplay in the 1990s and was instrumental in getting it made. What she didn't love was the presentation: "It wasn't an easy read," she said. "It was a very long, rambling screenplay with terrible typos, and really poorly presented." Her husband, Sting, appears in the film.
In several scenes "Nick the Greek" is referred to as "Nick the Bubble". This is truncated Cockney rhyming slang; "Bubble and Squeak" = "Greek". In the 1960 Peter Sellers film Two Way Stretch (1960), someone refers to an unseen character "Nick the Bubble".
According to Nick Moran a professional magician was initially hired to do close-up shootings of various gambler's tricks. As it turned out, however, that person's hands were larger by far than Moran's and the footage was of no use. In the end, Moran resorted to learning a few tricks himself (coin flipping, card shuffling). These are the only ones that made it to the final cut.
In the starting scene, Bacon says : 'Too late, too late' will be the cry, when the man with the bargains has passed you by. In Elementary (2012), Vinnie Jones, delivers a version of Bacon's dialogue, "'Too late, too late' will be the cry, when the lady with the bag passes by" to Sherlock Holmes.
Guy Ritchie had the cast play football and divided them into 5-aside teams based on their characters (the four main lad, plus Sting, the dealers, the villains, etc). According to Dexter Fletcher, the winning team was Hatchet Harry's team, given that they had a professional footballer on their team - Vinnie Jones. Nicholas Rowe recalled that Robbie Williams visited the set and had a kickabout.
According to editor Niven Howie, the scene with the lads drunkenly celebrating the robbery was originally shorter. When test audiences named it as their favourite scene, he went back and made it longer.
According to Stephen Marcus, the row of televisions in Rory Breaker's office took three hours to arrive and two hours to set up. Then, to Guy Ritchie's annoyance, they played American football rather than the English kind due to an issue with Sky Sports.
Even though they did not share a single scene in this film, 18 years earlier, P.H. Moriarty and Dexter Fletcher did share a brief scene in The Long Good Friday (1980). Dexter was the little boy who was watching Bob Hoskins' car and Moriarty was 'Razors' Hoskin's driver/henchmen. 'Alan Ford' had a small part in the film as one of Hoskins' henchmen.
Vera Day, who plays Tanya the dealer, bears a striking resemblance to the character of Lady Fingers in the famous film The Cincinnati Kid (1965), a classic about a young card pro who takes on a older foe.
The name of the character Nick the Greek is a nod to the famous quote "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts", which means "Don't Trust Your Enemies". Which is an allusion to the story of the wooden horse of Troy, used by the Greeks to trick their way into the city. In the film, Nick the Greek is a fencer, a criminal whom knowingly buys stolen property for later resale.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Big Chris is beating Dog to death with the car door, Vinnie Jones was actually slamming the door into a pile of wood. Dexter Fletcher recalled that Guy Ritchie told him to "scare the shit out of the cameraman". Everyone was in stunned terrified silence when the scene was over.
The film's original ending had the four lads walking off with the money, with Big Chris and his son about to follow them to retrieve it. This was changed due to negative test screenings. According to Nick Moran, Guy Ritchie scrambled a new ending on the back of a cigarette packet.
A scene was filmed, but was cut which revealed a backstory behind Hatchet Harry's motive for rigging the card game and have Eddie lose and owe him $500,000 and steal JD's bar for himself. After JD punches Eddie in the face, Alan tells Eddie that JD and Harry played a card game over 2 days and schemed to put JD in trouble with debt. But, Harry suffered a heart attack and JD bought the bar with the betting money and didn't play again since and Harry has sought a way of seeking revenge upon JD and Eddie has given Harry his shot at revenge and that if Harry doesn't kill him, JD will and that JD is not happy with Eddie over losing the card game with Harry.
Although the main antagonist is called Hatchet Harry, Hatchet Harry does not kill anyone in the film using a hatchet as a weapon. In the film he kills 2 people, but with 2 different weapons. He kills Smithy Robinson with a rubber dildo and he kills Kenny with a loaded shotgun. And yet, Barry the Baptist kills Gary with a hatchet.