Drafted in 1968, but rejected by the United States Army because of missing vertebra.
His films are often more based on character than plot.
Was classmates at Williams College with actor David Strathairn, whom Sayles regularly casts in his films.
Did uncredited rewrites for Apollo 13 (1995) and Mimic (1997).
While staying in Greenville, Alabama, during the Honeydripper (2007) shoot, Maggie Renzi and Sayles called in a contribution during the fund drive for the National Public Radio affiliate WUAL-FM in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
In his hometown of Schenectady, New York, there is the Sayles School of Fine Arts Black Box Theatre at the high school.
In the 2008 Empire Magazine movie poll, Sayles listed his ten favorite films as: Yojimbo (1961), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Two Women (1960), The Organizer (1963), The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), Seven Samurai (1954), Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Raging Bull (1980), The Wages of Fear (1953), Port of Shadows (1938).
Has English and Irish ancestry.
Speaks Spanish fluently.
In the Philippines filming Amigo. [June 2010]
In Greenville, Alabama, with partner Maggie Renzi, filming Honeydripper (starring Danny Glover) [September 2006]
Directed one Oscar nominated performance: Mary McDonnell in Passion Fish (1992).
Sayles is a great admirer of Akira Kurosawa and borrowed the basic plot of "Battle beyond the Stars" from "The Seven Samurai.".
In an AFI poll, he chose Akira Kurosawa's "Redbeard" as his favorite film.