Bob Dylan was such a big fan of the film that he arranged to have the two leads, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, open for him on part of his world tour. Hansard and Irglová also covered Dylan's song "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" for the I'm Not There. (2007).
During the filming of the opening scene, because the scene was shot with long lenses placing the crew far away, and without informing the public, who would be crossing through the scene, a bystander attempting to be a hero accidentally injured the thief as he was running away by kneeing him in the groin.
The lead role was originally intended for Cillian Murphy. He turned it down however because he was unsure about acting opposite a non-professional like Markéta Irglová (who was only 17 at the time) and also because he wasn't convinced his singing would do justice to Glen Hansard's songs. When Murphy pulled out, so did most of the money.
The title refers to the many very talented artists that John Carney knew who put off their career by saying "once" they get this and that sorted out, but never succeed because they've put it off too long. This describes the lead character, The Guy.
The Dublin street scenes were recorded without permits so a long lens was used. Many passers-by didn't even realize that they were being filmed. The long lens also helped the non-professional actors relax and forget that they were on camera.
The song "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy" was filmed during a spontaneous moment during filming. It was never meant to make it into the film but the director liked it so much he kept it in much to the amusement of Glen Hansard who plays "The Guy".
When John Carney asked Glen Hansard to take on the lead, the singer was initially reluctant as he'd never done much in the way of acting, aside from one small supporting role in The Commitments (1991). He changed his mind when Carney assured him that the film would be low budget and very intimate.
Spent years in development with the Irish Film Board. During some of this time, the board had no chief executive for about six months and it was then that the film was given the go-ahead by a lower level executive on the proviso that the film be made for 150,000 euros.
"Falling Slowly" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song on 24 February 2008, beating out the choral gospel song "Raise It Up" from August Rush and three songs from the modern Disney musical Enchanted. The win marked the fourth year in a row that the Oscar-winning song had not been nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Earlier the song's eligibility for an Oscar was in dispute because it had been performed and recorded prior to the release of Once. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ruled, however, that because the song had been written and composed for the movie, and because the prior public exposure during the long period that the movie took to produce had been minimal, it remained eligible. The Academy had ruled likewise on a similar controversy involving 2004 Best Original Song nominee "In the Deep." According to the Academy rules, that song was disqualified because there was some dispute over whether or not it was written originally for the film.
To cut costs of the film many parts were recorded at cast members houses. The party scene was filmed at Glen Hansards own flat. During the scene there is a cameo from Glens own mother (the first woman to sing)
There's an unconfirmed fan theory that the unnamed character "Guy" in "Once", may actually be the same character as "Outspan Foster" that Glen Hansard earlier played in Alan Parker's version of "The Commitments". This plausible theory is based upon Glen Hansard's last scene in The Commitments (1991) where he is seen busking in the streets of Dublin. In the opening scene of Once he is also seen busking in the streets of Dublin. Using movie logic, it can legitimately be implied it is the same character, as its a massive coincidence otherwise.
After Kris Allen's performance of "Falling Slowly" on American Idol, the song went from the 33rd most popular and downloaded song on iTunes to the 29th most popular and downloaded song. Though Allen's appearance was not one of American Idol judge Randy Jackson's favorite performances, it clearly moved the live studio audience before whom the installment of the show was being taped.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
There is a moment when the guy asks the girl whether she loves her husband. She responds, "No. I love you." However, her response is in unsubtitled Czech, so the man does not understand her - nor do audience members who don't know the language.