Robert Downey Jr. was considered for the role of Max Baron and even screen tested with Susan Sarandon.
Originally "White Palace" was to have been "White Castle", and in the novel specific reference is made to a real White Castle location at the intersection of S. Grand Blvd. and Gravois Ave. in south St. Louis, Mo., but the White Castle chain wouldn't give permission for their trademarked name to be used in either the novel or the movie, or allow the use of any of their restaurants for film locations. The diner used for the film's "White Palace" restaurant tried to change its name to White Palace after the film was released, but the studio refused permission, so it was renamed "White Knight" by its owners instead. It still exists and is open for business.
The name of the working-class suburb was "Dogtown" which is a real life district in St. Louis, Missouri. The Irish-American region comprises of five neighborhoods - Clayton-Tamm, Franz Park, Hi-Pointe, Cheltenham and the eastern part Ellendale - which together form the informally known traditionally Irish section of St. Louis known as "Dogtown". It is the Clayton-Tamm part of the region where the movie is mostly set.
Debut cinema movie produced screenplay of writer Ted Tally who would very soon go on to write the script for The Silence of the Lambs (1991) released in the following year and then after Tally would in 1992 for that win an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Oscar.
The movie is notable for some steamy sex scenes between its leads James Spader and Susan Sarandon the latter of whom before had attracted sex symbol controversy with her early 1980s films Atlantic City (1980) and The Hunger (1983). Sarandon was seen in Louis Malle's Atlantic City (1980) where she washed topless with lemons in front of an open window whilst in The Hunger (1983), Sarandon performed a same-sex love scene with French actress Catherine Deneuve.
The film was made and released about two years after its source novel of the same name by Glenn Savan had been first published in 1988.
The film co-starred Kathy Bates in a supporting role and was released in the same year as Misery (1990) which Bates won the Academy Award for Best Actress for in 1991. The film was one of four 1990 releases that Bates appeared in, the others being Dick Tracy (1990) and Men Don't Leave (1990).
The movie features two actresses that have both won the Academy Award for Best Actress - Kathy Bates for Misery (1990) and Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking (1995).
Although the characters of Nora and Max have a sixteen year age difference, in reality, Susan Sarandon and James Spader only have a fourteen year age difference.
The production shoot for this film started late October 1989 and ran through November with principal photography ending late December 1989 just prior to Christmas that year.
"White Palace" (1988) was the first novel of source author Glenn Savan and the book became a best-seller.
Both of the film's screenwriters have won Academy Awards for screen-writing. Ted Tally has won for The Silence of the Lambs (1991) whilst Alvin Sargent has won for both Julia (1977) and Ordinary People (1980), with the latter also being Oscar nominated for Paper Moon (1973). All four nominations for script-writing were for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
First sole American Hollywood production of Mexican director Luis Mandoki which was not a Mexican production. Mandoki's earlier film Gaby: A True Story (1987) had been a US-Mexican co-production.
The film features two Oscar (Academy Award) winners - Kathy Bates for Misery (1990) and Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking (1995) and one Oscar (Academy Award) nominee - Eileen Brennan for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Private Benjamin (1980).
The age difference between twenty-seven year old Max Baron (James Spader) and forty-three year old Nora Baker (Susan Sarandon) was around sixteen years.
The movie has often been described as a cross between Pygmalion (1938), The Graduate (1967) and The Odd Couple (1968).
According to show-business trade paper Variety, actor James Spader portrays "the same sort of character Spader played in Pretty in Pink (1986)".
The picture was promoted as being "the story of a younger man, and a bolder woman" with the word "bolder" being a play on words as Susan Sarandon's Nora Baker character is "older" to James Spader's Max Baron character.
Jason Alexander (Neil) & James Spader (Max Baron) appear alongside each other in the Seinfeld (1989) episode Seinfeld: The Apology (1997).
The "White Palace" of the movie's title refers to the name of a hamburger joint diner restaurant where Nora Baker (Susan Sarandon) works.