Gary Oldman and co-Producer Douglas Urbanski complained after the film was released, that the film was changed from the more balanced script by DreamWorks Pictures to reflect the liberal politics of the studios head at DreamWorks (Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen). The English Oldman, who according to long-time business partner Urbanski is "the least political person I know", was simply contending this since he didn't enjoy how negatively his character was portrayed. DreamWorks vehemently denied tampering with the film.
An entire subplot involving Laine Hanson's father, Oscar Billings (Philip Baker Hall) was dropped in post-production. In it, the character was given more depth and portrayed as a corrupt former Governor, who used his influence and money to help his daughter get a Senate seat (without her knowledge). This information leaks, and Oscar, guilt-ridden, kills himself out of shame. Rod Lurie cut this out because of time, and because he felt the audience would have a hard time believing the Senator could beat these nepotism charges and get confirmed.
Director Rod Lurie said he first offered the role of President Jackson Evans to Paul Newman, and then to Gregory Peck. Newman, then in semi-retirement, declined, as did Peck, claiming he was "too damn old" for the role. In response, Lurie re-wrote President Evans' character to be younger, and then cast Jeff Bridges.
Writer and Director Rod Lurie and Gary Oldman disagreed on a major component of the Shelly Runyon character. Oldman felt he was an old-line Jewish Republican whose views and actions were based on his status as a minority in both the U.S. and his own party, while Lurie said in an interview that he never considered Runyon to be any specific religion. The movie did reference Runyon's beliefs and background implicitly when Runyon's wife, who is angry and despairing over his attacks on Laine Hanson, says that his successful effort to pass Hate Crimes legislation was the one thing that made a life in politics worth it to her.
The idea for the film came about when Rod Lurie was presenting an award to Joan Allen when he joked that he should write a screenplay for her so she could win another one. Allen told him at the awards ceremony that if he did write a screenplay, she would read it. Spurred on by this encouragement, Lurie set to the task, completing his script in just a couple of weeks.
Not only did Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, and Christian Slater appear in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), Allen and Bridges played Slater's parents. It can be argued that in this movie, veteran politicians President Jackson Evans (Bridges) and Senator Laine Hanson (Allen) act in a "parental" capacity when they attempt to get the young freshman Representative Reginald Webster (Slater) to ultimately do what is right.