Originally, the film was a more visual effects oriented, blockbuster-type movie, and was turned down by Al Pacino five times. But when Taylor Hackford went through a few script re-writes, he offered it to Pacino again. Pacino liked it, but didn't think he could portray Milton properly, and suggested Sir Sean Connery or Robert Redford instead.
The boxing match that Lomax and Milton attend was not a staged bout, but in fact a legitimate world championship boxing match. The bout occurred on October 4, 1996, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Roy Jones, Jr., IBF super-middleweight champion, squared off against top contender Bryant Brannon. Jones knocked out Brannon during the second round of the bout.
The character of John Milton is named for John Milton, the author of "Paradise Lost," the classic epic poem about man's fall from God's grace. When Lomax is in Milton's office at the end of the film, he says "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven," from Book I Line 263 of the same work.
The outdoor patio in John Milton's office, actually was on the fiftieth floor of a New York City building. The actual stage was eight feet away from the edge of the building. Thus what one would imagine is a bluescreen shot, is real.
(Now the 45th President of the United States) Donald J. Trump's private residential multi-level apartment at Trump Tower was used as the character Alex Cullen's home. Trump's landmark gold decor, and classic view of Central Park, provide a familiar New York City backdrop.
The line Milton says to Kevin about how "there are more people in law school than there are lawyers on the whole planet" was also spoken in the movie St. Elmo's Fire (1985) by Andrew McCarthy's character, Kevin.
John Milton (Al Pacino) is heard and shown speaking several different languages to show that Satan (like evil) knows no boundaries. Also, a figure of ultimate evil is common in all religions worldwide.
According to the director's commentary on the DVD, after they finished filming Daniel Oreskes's scene in which he coughs violently for several minutes, the entire cast and crew broke out into applause.
Sculptor Frederick Hart and the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., sued Warner Brothers over a sculpture that appears in the film, and closely resembles Hart's "Ex Nihilo", which is situated above Milton's desk in his apartment. Warner Bros. agreed to edit the scenes for future releases. Some videos of the film had already been made, so they attached stickers to them, prior to sale, stating that there was no relation between the sculpture in the film, and Hart's work.
Including the Gettys case, Kevin Lomax has won 64 cases before coming to New York City. After coming to New York City, he wins two more cases, bringing his total to 66, a possible reference to the "Number of the Beast," 666.
Lomax and Milton run into Don King at the bout. King was in attendance that night, because one of the fighters he promoted at the time, Oba Carr, fought on the undercard of the Roy Jones, Jr.-Bryant Brannon bout. Carr lost a 12-round decision to WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey.
After the party at the Barzoon's apartment, the lawyers meet at Milton's to discuss the Cullen case. Milton asks Heath how many hours they billed Cullen for last year, to which Heath replies "16,242". If you average, 16,000 divided by 24 hours in a day, is 666.666667. 666 of course, is the number of the devil.
There is a deleted scene where Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) is looking for Kevin (Keanu Reeves) at Eddie Barzoon's party, and someone re-directs her to the library. She is shocked to find three people there engaged in a threesome, and leaves when they invite her to join in. The scene didn't make the final cut, but seeing the level of debauchery in Milton's company may explain Mary Ann's increasing suspicion of Kevin's infidelity in the remainder of the movie.
When Eddie Barzoon is running in the park the three joggers running after him that disappear, are each wearing a colors associated with the horsemen of the apocalypse. One is wearing red, one is wearing white and one is wearing black. Red, white and black are the colors of three of the four horsemens colors of their horses. War - Red., Famine - Black.\, and Conquest (or Pestilence) - White.
When Milton is negotiating with Lomax near the end of the film, he tells him "I'm just getting warmed up." This is a quote from a previous Pacino film, Scent of a Woman (1992), in which Pacino's character also says the line, much to the approval of the audience.
In the beginning of the film where the first party takes place most of the women have their hair dyed red you can clearly see when the camera shows the above shots of the actors and extras seeing a montage of red hair.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Keanu Reeves's suit gets darker as the movie progresses. It starts as a light color and then goes through increasingly dark shades of gray. By the end of the movie, his suit is black. This is indicative of his character's decreasing morality throughout the movie.
Each time Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) tries a different color of green on the apartment walls, only to be discouraged by her "friend" Jackie (Tamara Tunie), Jackie is wearing some article of clothing or jewelry that is the exact same shade of green.
When Kevin is in the restroom speaking to Larry the reporter, a loud boom is heard before he splashes water on to his face. At the end of the movie, he awakens at the same bathroom, although no boom is heard. The boom indicates Kevin's entry into Milton's world, or the hallucination of it.
It is said that demons in paranormal hauntings tend to knock on surfaces three times each as a way to mock the holy trinity. Al Pacino's character, John Milton (who is actually Satan), throughout the movie has a habit of laughing three times each.
Near the end of the movie, Keanu Reeves appears to be walking down a totally empty Fifth Avenue, without cars or people. This scene was victim of a certain polemic due to Open Your Eyes (1997), where its main actor, Eduardo Noriega, appears in a too empty Madrid's Gran Vía, creating a doubt about which of the two scenes was copied (or plagiarized) of the other.
Then-businessman Donald Trump was mentioned briefly by Pam Garrety (Debra Monk) in the Barzoon party scene. She said "Donald Trump was supposed to be here tonight, but he had a business emergency. Probably Mort Zuckerman."
The scene where Kevin and John have their first talk with Alexander Cullen (Craig T. Nelson) inside a building under construction originally ran longer; it was specified that Cullen and his wife were in the process of divorcing, and were already living apart. This fact would actually be an additional motive for Cullen to kill his wife, because if proof of his extramarital affair were to come out before the finalization of the divorce, Mrs Cullen would legally be entitled to half his fortune. The finished movie never explicitly states the pending divorce status, only that Mrs Cullen suspects that Alexander is cheating on her, which might be an incentive for Alexander to kill her and prevent her from filing for divorce.