Because of Meryl Streep's height (5'6") several camera/set/costume tricks had to be employed to mimic Julia Child's height (6'2"). Countertops were lowered, Streep wore extra high heels, and forced perspective camera angles were used.
Louisette Bertholle is depicted here as a lazy shirker who doesn't carry her weight on the cookbook project. After the film was released, people who knew her came forward to declare that she was dedicated to the project and tested a huge number of recipes in her home. Eventually, she did have to scale back her participation in the project, but for personal reasons, as she was dealing with a bankruptcy (resulting from a failed investment) and a painful and ugly divorce. She eventually remarried happily and became a successful cookbook author on her own.
During the Valentine's Day dinner, one of the guests asks Julia and Paul if they were spies in the war. Both of them deny this. At the time the modern half of the film was set (2002), the Childs' wartime files had not yet been declassified, but by the time the film itself was made (2009), their records had been made public and it was revealed that Julia had served as a top-secret researcher for the OSS. The filmmakers elected to go only with facts that were established knowledge in 2002, but the spy conversation was thrown in as a sly nod toward the later revelation.
Julia Child and Simone Beck would collaborate on a second volume of "Mastering" in 1970; by that time Louisette Bertholle had remarried and was working on her own cookbooks. There was some discussion of a third volume of "Mastering" but Child and Beck would part ways professionally; Beck insisted on sticking to traditional techniques and equipment, and Child was enthusiastically embracing new techniques and finding ways of applying modern equipment to traditional recipes. While Child became an American TV personality, Beck continued to teach in France and published some of her own cookbooks. They were never to collaborate again but did remain friends for the rest of their lives.
In the movie, Simone Beck and Julia Child have a contentious lunch with Louisette Bertholle in which Beck insists that because Bertholle has done so much less work on the book than they have, she should be credited as "With Louisette Bertholle" in smaller type under their names. Because Louisette reveals that she is going through a divorce, Julia takes pity on her and says that they should all be credited equally, in alphabetical order - which is how they really were credited on the first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. However, after Julia Child became a famous TV personality in America, later editions of the book featured her name alone and in large type above the title, with both Beck and Bertholle in much smaller type below the title.
Eric Powell's quote ("I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by") was originally made by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). Eric explains this himself, immediately after delivering the line.
The publishers at Houghton Mifflin show Julia Child a cookbook entitled 'Real Home Cooking' by an author named Della Simmons. Both the book and author are strictly fictional as there was no such book by an author with that name. On the DVD commentary track, Nora Ephron says that the book that the publishers actually gave to the real Child and Beck was "Helen Corbitt's Cookbook," a 1957 bestseller by the Director of Food Services for the Neiman-Marcus Department Stores.
Meryl Streep earned her 16th acting Oscar nomination for this film, but her loss to Sandra Bullock for her role in The Blind Side (2009) marked Meryl's record 12th consecutive loss at the Academy Awards (11 of these in the Best Actress category).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The film has Judith Jones stand Julie Powell up due to bad weather. Jones told the Boston Globe in August 2009 that, in fact, she had wanted to meet Julie "because I wasn't sure how you put a blog together and I also wanted to talk about recipe rights", but canceled because "Julia Child looked at her blog and didn't think Julie was a serious cook. There were all these four-letter words - that isn't how you describe food if you care and if you're a good writer. Julia thought we shouldn't have anything to do with it."