While working on the film, first assistant cameraman Michael S. Endler learned that his father, Gerald Endler, had died. As a tribute to Gerald, a former special effects technician who had actually worked with many of this film's effects crew decades earlier on other projects, Michael was allowed, on the day of shooting the ferry explosion, to place some of his ashes on a gasoline-filled water jug that would be blown up as part of the pyrotechnics of the sequence (which was referred to on call sheets as the "Stumpf Ferry Gerald Endler Memorial Pyro Blast").
The movie went through pre-production in New Orleans. Just a few weeks before production was to begin, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. With the location in ruins, the movie made the decision to find a new location to shoot. A few weeks after the decision, canceling the movie altogether was in talks. Finally, three months after the hurricane, the film returned to New Orleans, Louisiana and began pre-production once again.
Scriptwriters Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii didn't feel Tony Scott recaptured everything in the screenplay. They felt he was more interested in the action scenes, rather than the intricacies of time travel. They wrote a plot that was airtight, but in Scott's hands, the finished product is now filled with plot holes. Rossio was so disillusioned with the film, he's never seen it. Scott also admitted he did a mediocre job directing the film, but blamed that on the nineteen-week production schedule, which wasn't as long as he wanted.
The third time Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have worked together. They would collaborate on two other films before Scott's death in 2012. Its also the first film Scott, Washington and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have worked on since Crimson Tide (1995), and the last film Scott and Bruckheimer would work on after six collaborations.
(at around 52 mins) In the film the scientists describe how they caused the northeast blackout of 2003 in order to produce enough power to fuel their time machine. In reality, it would take more energy than our Sun will produce in its entire lifetime in order to not only create but maintain an Einstein-Rosen bridge of such size and capability.
(at around 35 mins) When they are initially looking back to Claire's house, as the camera is identifying and zooming in on, and through, her front door, you can clearly hear a set of tones that are identical to the tones that come from the computer display in Gaff's spinner in Blade Runner (1982) toward the beginning of that film. Ridley Scott, who directed 'Blade Runner', is the older brother of the late Tony Scott.
The lab set was built on a sound stage in Los Angeles by production designer Chris Seagers. Seagers wanted to combine a raw-edged, high-tech feel, in which everything is digital, and state-of-the-art; yet have exposed cables, wires, and ducts, to provide a sense of reality.
(at around 1h 30 mins) When Oerstadt raises his arm in what likes like a Nazi salute, it's actually a Klan salute; he's raised his left arm instead of the right, with his fingers spread and his thumb tucked under. For most Americans, it's a distinction without a difference.
The ATF is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in New Orleans. It is a unique law enforcement agency in the United State Department of Justice. They protect the community from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use trade of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson, bombing, and terrorism, and the illegal division of alcohol and tobacco products.
The crew also worked with the city's New Orleans EMS using their EMS units old and new. The EMS personal were also hired to play background extras. All but 3-4 of the EMS personnel seen in the movie are Real NOEMS personnel. The entire EMS personnel wore their own uniforms. Also the Director of EMS was used as the EMS consultant.
The cast and crew of the movie, who did not live in the immediate area, stayed at two of New Orleans' signature properties, the Renaissance Pere Marquette and the Renaissance Arts, for the duration of the filming.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Near the end of the car chase, Doug originally said "Jesus" after first seeing Oerstadt's face. This caused the audience at the first preview screening to erupt into laughter, as Jim Caviezel, who played Oerstadt, is famous for playing Jesus in The Passion of the Christ (2004). This unintentional reference had gone overlooked by director Tony Scott; he had the line removed from the film before its release.