In interviews, Jason Statham said that in addition to the stunt driving course they all received, he got two days' driving tuition from Damon Hill, the British ex-world champion Formula 1 driver. However, all of the cast members acknowledged that Charlize Theron was easily the best driver among them.
Charlize Theron got two speeding tickets, both for going more than forty miles per hour over the speed limit, during the filming of this movie. She said that after filming driving so fast, she just couldn't get her speed down to drive home.
Lyle (Seth Green) claims he was the creator of Napster, and that Shawn Fanning stole it from him. It shows a flashback of Lyle sleeping, and a person taking a disk out of the PC that has Napster on it. The person is really Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster. When he steals the disk, the bottom of a Metallica poster can be seen on the wall. Metallica were vocal critics of the original Napster.
The Metro tunnel set was so huge that it wouldn't fit in any soundstage in Los Angeles. It was built in the hangar where the first space shuttle was assembled. They used every inch available in that hangar.
Edward Norton made it clear that his participation is a result of contractual obligation, not choice. He signed a three movie deal with Paramount, of which Primal Fear (1996), his breakthrough movie, was the first. He kept dismissing scripts for the other two, until Paramount coerced him into accepting a role in this film. Norton did not hide his misery on the set, clashing with the crew throughout it, and when the producer handed out gifts to the cast over the movie's surprisingly strong box office performance, Norton returned the gift with a note stating "Give this to someone you actually like--or someone who actually likes you."
A Mini Cooper with two steering wheels, was used for some of the shooting, in order that a stunt driver could drive the car, while one of the actors performed in front of the camera. This unusual car, is now a part of the Mini factory tour in Cowley, Oxford.
The principal actors in the movie did most of the stunt driving themselves. While all of the principals needed stunt driving lessons - Yasiin Bey needed a little more work, because he didn't have a driver's license at the outset of production.
Paramount was generally happy with the film's box-office performance on its first run but had the release expanded from only 64 screens to well over 1,400 of them in late August 2003 because they wanted the movie to cross the $100 million 'blockbuster' mark; within a few weeks the nine-figure mark was attained and Paramount then began scaling back the release for the rest of September, with it leaving theatres altogether by October 2003.
For the first time in cinematic history, the production shut down Hollywood Boulevard and Highland for seven days for the shooting, according to director F. Gary Gray in an interview featured in the DVD.
The red Mini Cooper, driven by Stella at the beginning of the film, is a nod to the Mini Coopers from the original The Italian Job (1969). It is a vastly different model to the one featured in the original, though, being a late Rover-produced model made in the late-'90s, not an Austin Mini Cooper Mk1, as was used in the original film.
After the crew have stolen the gold in Venice, and are discussing their shopping lists, Handsome Rob says he is going to buy an Aston Martin Vanquish. Although Steve has a Vanquish (The Green car in the courtyard of his house when Stella goes to repair the television), Handsome Rob actually drives an Aston Martin DB7 Volante at the end of the movie, an older and totally different car to the Vanquish.
Screenwriters Donna Powers and Wayne Powers said in an interview, featured on the DVD, that they hadn't watched the 1969 original movie before agreeing to write the script. After that, they only watched it once. This was on-purpose, because they didn't want to copy the movie, they wanted to make their own movie, inspired by the original one.
The value of the stolen gold is repeatedly listed as 35 million dollars. In 2003, when the film was released, gold prices ranged from around 320 to 420 dollars per ounce. At an average price of 370 dollars per ounce, 35 million dollars in gold, would weigh just shy of three tons at 5,912 pounds.
During the final chase scene, there are two scenes where Stella's red Mini is not shown. This is because there is a deleted scene (which is on the DVD under deleted scenes) where Stella drives off, to lead a police car that is chasing them away.
Kings Island (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Canada's Wonderland (Toronto, Ontario) opened The Italian Job: Stunt Track attraction in May 2005. Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia) added the ride in summer 2006. The ride is based on the chase sequence of the 2003 film. The ride is a heavily themed roller coaster, in which the coaster trains are scaled MINI Cooper S convertible models.
Filming on location posed some challenges. The opening heist sequence in Venice, Italy, was strictly monitored by the local authorities, due to the high speeds, at which the boats were driven. The frigid temperatures at Passo Fedaia, in the Italian Alps, created problems during production: "The guns would jam, and if you could imagine not being able to walk forty feet with a bottle of water without it freezing, those are the conditions, in which we had to work," F. Gary Gray remarked. Pedestrians had to be allowed to use the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard between takes. Also, scenes which took place on freeways and city streets, were only filmed on weekends.
When Charlize Theron is cracking the safe, she is writing out the combination in grease pencil. The first three digits are 7-17. Donald Sutherland (her father in the movie) was born on July 17th (7-17).
James Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade wrote the first draft of the screenplay, a fairly faithful translation of the original, with a prologue set in World War II, in which Charlie Croker's father tries and fails to recover the gold (tying the film in with Troy Kennedy-Martin's other heist film Kelly's Heroes (1970)). A new story was commissioned from writing team "the Powers", that relocated the action to Los Angeles. Early posters, and the trailer still credited Purvis and Wade as co-writers.
For the scene, in which an armored truck falls through Hollywood Boulevard and into the subway tunnel below, Wally Pfister set up seven cameras to capture the vehicle's thirty foot (9.1 meter) descent.
Mark Wahlberg's character is called Charlie Crocker, the same as Sir Michael Caine's in the original. Charlize Theron has the family name of Bridger, the same as Noël Coward's character in the original.
The White Mini was custom painted into a 'Pepper White' Mini with a pure white roof - this is not a color combination that is available for the car. From 2001-2004, you could only buy Minis with white roofs. It wasn't until 2005, that you could get a white, black or body colored roof. The mirrors had options for the "caps" that went over them. They could be white, black, chrome, or body color.
F. Gary Gray and Cinematographer Wally Pfister worked together to develop a visual style for the film, before production began. They viewed car commercials and magazine photographs, as well as chase sequences from The French Connection (1971), Ronin (1998), and The Bourne Identity (2002) as visual references. Pfister wanted "dark textures and undertones and strong contrast"; he collaborated with Production Designer Charlie Wood on the color palette, and the two would confer with Gray on their ideas.
Paramount preferred that the film not be shot in the anamorphic format, despite Wally Pfister's wishes to do so. F. Gary Gray wanted a widescreen aspect ratio, so they chose to shoot the film in Super 35 for a 2.4:1 aspect ratio.
The second unit, under Director Alexander Witt and Cinematographer Josh Bleibtreu, filmed establishing shots, the Venice canal chase sequence, and the Los Angeles chase sequence over a period of forty days.
Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron have also starred in live-action films from Seth McFarlane. Mark Wahlberg in Ted (2012) and Ted 2 (2015), and Charlize Theron in A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014).
Jason Statham's girlfriend at the time Kelly Brook made a cameo during the end credits as Lyle's girlfriend. Jason Statham and Kelly Brook both split up in 2005 when Kelly Brook began a relationship with Billy Zane.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Originally, the getaway was a much longer sequence, in which a bullet-wounded Handsome Rob reluctantly hands over the driving to Left Ear, despite the fact that he can't drive a "stick". After narrowly avoiding pedestrians at the Staples Center, getting stuck in traffic in downtown Los Angeles, and driving into a shop window, Rob takes over the driving. Some footage from this sequence appears as deleted scenes on the DVD. There is also proof of this sequence still in the movie. If you freeze the movie at 1 hour 50 minutes and 32 seconds, you can see the spot on the right sleeve of Handsome Rob's coat. Also, when he's turning the car back around, after taking out the second motorcycle, he's only using his left hand to steer.
After stealing the gold back from Steve, Handsome Rob buys an Aston Martin. After being released from prison, Sir Michael Caine picks up an Aston Martin from a parking garage in The Italian Job (1969).