Christian Bale was initially set to have a much more substantial role in the film but he ended up working only three to four days on the set. He was ultimately cut from the film as his character was reportedly very similar to Michael Fassbender's.
The movie was partially filmed during the 2012 Austin City Limits festival and features artists who performed that year, including Arcade Fire, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) and Iron and Wine. Several musicians and bands like Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Florence Welch of Florence and The Machine, The Black Lips, Lykke Li and The Red Hot Chili Peppers also have cameos in the film.
The normally very reclusive director Terrence Malick participated in a rare post-screening interview at the SXSW festival, along with his star Michael Fassbender and moderated by Richard Linklater. This is one of the only times he has ever granted a public interview.
Shot in only 40 days over a time period of nearly 2 years. The shooting days were long, starting in the morning, with only a 30-minute break for lunch. The actors were even shot in the car, moving from one location to the next, just in case it turned into interesting footage that could be used in the movie. [Variety 2017]
The release of this film a mere year after Knight of Cups (2015) marks the shortest gap between film releases for Terrence Malick, who once took a 20-year hiatus from filmmaking. If one were to also figure in the October release date for Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience (2016), the gap would be even shorter at five months.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In a scene, in which Fassbender's character learns, that Portman's character is dead, the audio in the background is popular Polish prayer - "Zdrowas Maryjo", sampled from song "Angelus" by Wojciech Kilar.