Julia Roberts caused a controversy after she left Abbeville, South Carolina, where the film shot some location work. She said the place was "a living hell" and a "horribly racist" town and she would never return there.
The name Laura chooses for herself is connected to her past life. The first name of Sarah means Princess, which is what Martin used to call her, and the last name of Waters symbolizes Laura's supposed drowning.
Julia Roberts, aged 22 when the film was shot in spring 1990, became the youngest actress to earn a seven-figure fee for a single performance.
Julia Roberts' lead female role in Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) was originally written for Jane Fonda.
It was Patrick Bergin's idea to use composer Hector Berlioz's song, one of his favorite pieces of music, as Martin Burney's song of choice.
At the time director Joseph Ruben was hired, Kim Basinger was attached to the project as Laura Burney. She ultimately turned down the part, though, feeling she wasn't right for the role. The character in the end was cast with Julia Roberts.
Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin did some rewrite work on the movie's script but went unbilled in the film's credits for this re-writing.
When this movie was submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)for a rating it was given a rating of NC-17. An NC-17 rated film can only have limited advertisement in the US and many theaters will not show an NC-17 rated film. So to make a profit, the movie had to have a rating of R. In order for the MPAA to give this film an R rating, several seconds of the first sex scene between Martin and Laura had to be cut. The version of this film with the entire sex scene is known as the International version which was seen in the UK and other parts of Europe.
Martin displays the classic cycle of spousal/partner abuse with Laura. First, the building of tensions, which continually increase between a couple, ultimately culminating in an abusive episode. After an incident, the abuser has released built-up tension, and thus the abuser is usually incredibly remorseful. This leads to the honeymoon period, which is characterized by apologizing, promising it will never happen again, and/or gifts. Finally, there is calm in the relationship for a time until tensions build again. Where Martin departs from the pattern is that his behavior is pathological, in that he is a true sociopath. In other words, there is a genetic defect that affects the way that the brain is wired, and which is untreatable. As such, he doesn't feel genuine guilt, shame, remorse, or empathy. He is not capable of recognizing his own faults and is incapable of taking responsibility for his actions. All of his actions, even the seemingly benign ones, are ultimately self-serving, an example being his gift of the red negligee, which was not for his wife but for satisfying his own sexual desires. If he beats her, he sees it as a quarrel. If she fails to conform to his standards it is because she is at fault. While "normal" cases of spousal abuse are abhorrent, cases in which the abuser is a genuine sociopath can be life-threatening, as seen in this film.
Part of an early 1990s American Hollywood cycle of suspense-thriller movies which included various neo-noir and neo-Hitchcock films.
Upon its release, the movie ended an eleven week and almost three-month reign of Home Alone (1990) at the top of the North American box office. Both pictures were from the same 20th Century Fox.
When Laura leaves Martin, she transitions almost every aspect of her life. She goes from a sleek, modern beach house to a rural villa-style house. Her long hair, which she had clearly kept at that length because Martin preferred it, is cut into a shorter, more bouncy shape. She goes from dressing for each part of the day to jeans and shirts. Her long, perfectly manicured nails are cut shorter and remain unpolished. She deliberately ruffles a part of each room so it's not perfect - her hand-towels, kitchen cupboards - and she gets a full-time job at a library, which Martin was against. And of course, Ben is so far removed from Martin as to be his polar opposite - in looks, personality, values and moral code.
The use of Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique" is appropriate since the piece is a programmatic symphony depicting a young man, under the influence of opium, dreaming that he kills his girlfriend, is executed and ends up in hell.
There is a photo of the rear of the fake house movie set that was built for the Burney's house on the internet that clearly shows it is not a real house, but a facade. This view, of course, is not ever shown in the movie for obvious reasons. But on the 2009 DVD cover, the house that is shown is the rear facade picture that shows the house is fake.
The stars that were originally attached to the film's lead roles were Kim Basinger, Sean Connery and Aidan Quinn.
The film was made and released about four years after its source novel of the same name written by Nancy Price had first been published in 1987.
One of a cycle of thrillers made during the early 1990s which were set around husband and wife characters. The films include Malice (1993), Deceived (1991), Shattered (1991), Mortal Thoughts (1991), Consenting Adults (1992), Unlawful Entry (1992), Presumed Innocent (1990), Guilty as Sin (1993), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) and A Kiss Before Dying (1991).
The name of the circus was "Claude Powell's Super Carnival". Claude F. Powell worked on this film as the construction coordinator in the Art Department.
One of two major motion pictures from the 20th Century Fox studio first released in 1991 that starred actor Patrick Bergin. The movies were Robin Hood (1991) and Sleeping with the Enemy (1991).
The song that Ben sings when we are first introduced to him is the musical prologue from "West Side Story" followed by the Jet Song.
The term "sleeping with the enemy" has ancient origins, examples of which can be found in various cultures, in most cases referring to betrayal or espionage. A classic example being the placing of spies within the harem of a Moghul (an ancient ruler of northern India).
The two cinema movies that actor Kevin Anderson appeared in that were first released in the year of 1991 were both suspense thrillers. The films were Liebestraum (1991) and Sleeping with the Enemy (1991).
Star Julia Roberts has two character names in this movie. They are Sara Waters and Laura Burney (full name: Laura Williams Burney).
Sharon J. Robinson portrayed a character, billed in the closing credits as "Sharon the Nurse", who had the same first name as her own.