Kruger and his men incorporate numerous Afrikaans slang words into their dialogue. Examples include "Boet," an informal derivative of "brother," "Boykie," meaning "little boy," and "lekker," a slang for approval.
When Kruger retrieves the rocket launcher from his vehicle, the name of the agency he is working for is seen-- the "Civil Cooperation Bureau." The South African Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) was a government-sponsored under cover direct action intelligence agency during the apartheid era.
The main role was first offered to Ninja, a South African rapper, who despite being a fan of District 9 (2009) (he has a D9 tattoo on his inner lip) did not take the role. The role was then offered to rapper Marshall Mathers, who also turned it down. So Neill Blomkamp moved on to Matt Damon as his next choice.
In 2015, director Neill Blomkamp expressed his dissatisfaction with this film in an interview shortly before the release of Chappie (2015). He claimed to have felt that he could've delved further into the film's story.
Eager for the chance to work with director Neill Blomkamp, Diego Luna (Julio) signed on to star without reading the script. In an interview with NBCLatino, he says, "My agent told me to never do that again. It's a good idea to read the script before you say, 'yes,' but I am a huge fan of Neill's work, and the chance to work with a young guy who has so much to say and is so clear about his vision was amazing."
Sharlto Copley, who plays Agent Kruger, drew inspiration for the character from the famous "32 Battalion," an elite and highly effective South African fighting unit that gained fame in the South African Border Wars, eventually earning the nickname "The Terrible Ones."
To prepare for the role, Matt Damon had a daily 4-hour workout in the gym. Neill Blomkamp was specific of the character's physical look - he had a mugshot of Damon tacked on to the body of a model on the poster as a reference for the trainer.
"Easter Egg." In the John Carlyle hijacking scene, during an overhead shot, a white horse is seen for 2 seconds, standing and grazing on the bottom left side of the screen. The horse appears at approximately 52 minutes into the film, shortly after Carlyle's ship crashes. In mythologies of cultures around the world, white horses are associated with sun chariots, warrior-heroes, fertility, an end-of-time savior and more.
The design reference for the Elysium central server reboot screen is an Award BIOS from a Gigabyte motherboard with an AMD processor. The years and brand names have been changed but not the layout, and the "Wyrd" and "Oracle" drives still connect with an IDE interface.
This has overtones of the Star Trek episode Star Trek: The Cloud Minders (1969). The plot is different but the idea of a city in the sky (Stratus) where everything is perfect and the planet below where is everything is grim. It is also highly reminiscent of the divided culture in Fritz Lang's classic Sci-fi film Metropolis.
The code on screen during the space station reboot has been directly copied from sections of Example 8-1. STARTUP.ASM in the Intel Architecture Software Developer's Manual (Volume 3: System programming).
Sharlto Copley's character Kruger is clearly South African, which is obvious from his accent, the various slang he uses, and several images of the South African flag on his ship and clothing. The name Kruger is significant in South African history and culture: Paul Kruger (Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger) was a four-term State President of the South African Republic in the late 1800s. The Krugerrand is a 1 troy ounce South African gold coin; it is named for Paul Kruger and for the rand, the official South African unit of currency.
The configuration of the space station Elysium is a pentagram, a 5-pointed star in a circle. To Neo-Platonists it meant "health" (with healing a key theme in the movie); to early Christians it represented the 5 wounds of Jesus (if one point is going up); to satanists it represented the great goat Satan (if two points are going up).
When Max is offered a pill from his robotic parole officer the warning under the lid of the pill container reads, "Warning: Side effects may include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, constipation, blurry vision, dry mouth, rash, increase heart palpitations, high blood pressure, violent seizures and sudden death."
Sharlto Copley presented an American, an Eastern European, and a British "version" of Kruger to Neill Blomkamp before they agreed that Kruger would be from their home country, South Africa, and speak with the accent of "a very specific area in Johannesburg".