When Redfoot flicks his cigarette into the face of McManus, it was originally intended to hit his chest, so McManus' reaction is actually Stephen Baldwin's real unscripted reaction, which Bryan Singer decided to keep in the movie.
Christopher McQuarrie had previously worked for a detective agency, and this influenced the depiction of criminals and law enforcement officials in the script.
The line-up scene was scripted as a serious scene, but after a full day of filming takes where the actors couldn't keep a straight face, director Bryan Singer decided to use the funniest takes. A making-of documentary shows Singer becoming furious at the actors for the constant cracking-up. In an interview (on the Special Edition DVD), Kevin Pollak states that the hilarity came about when Benicio Del Toro "farted, like 12 takes in a row." Del Toro himself said "somebody" farted, but no one knew who.
Benicio Del Toro's bizarre dialect in the film was reportedly so unintelligible that during one scene, Stephen Baldwin actually forgot his cue due to being unable to understand what Del Toro had said.
The idea for this movie started only with the concept of a movie poster of five men in a lineup.
The character of Fenster was named after the German for window, and originally conceived as the oldest man of the group, a more seasoned veteran. Benicio Del Toro was originally asked to audition for the role of McManus. Del Toro asked to audition for the role of Fenster, telling director Bryan Singer that he had an "idea" for the part. The unintelligible way that Fenster spoke was Del Toro's idea, and Singer decided to go with it. In one scene, Hockney says, in response to Fenster, "What did he just say?" That was Kevin Pollak the actor speaking, not his character; he actually did not understand what Fenster said. The cop's (Christopher McQuarrie) reaction to Fenster in the line-up ("In English please") was unscripted and unrehearsed, as was Fenster's rather strong reaction.
All the actors were encouraged to ad lib perplexed reactions to Benicio Del Toro's oddball vocal stylings.
Kevin Spacey met with doctors and experts on cerebral palsy to discuss how it might affect his characterization.
Christopher McQuarrie's inspiration for the character of Keyser Soze was a real-life murderer by the name of John List, who murdered his family and then disappeared for 17 years.
Verbal Kint says, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist." This quote from the French poet Charles Baudelaire also appears in End of Days (1999), also featuring Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Pollak.
Kevin Spacey had been so impressed with Bryan Singer's first film, Public Access (1993), that he told him he wanted to be in his next film when he met the young director, after a screening at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival.
Benicio Del Toro was cast at the suggestion of Kevin Spacey. His part was originally written for someone like Harry Dean Stanton.
In a poll on IMDb, the movie was voted as having the best plot twist, beating out The Sixth Sense (1999), The Crying Game (1992), and Witness for the Prosecution (1957).
Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Mystery," in June 2008.
All of the characters' names stem from the staff members of the law firm and the detective agency that Christopher McQuarrie worked at when he was young.
The title came from a famous line from Casablanca (1942): "Round up the usual suspects".
Originally, Keyser Soze was supposed to have the name Keyser Sume, named after Christopher McQuarrie's old boss. He allowed his old boss to read the script, and decided he did not want to be associated with an inherently evil villain, so requested a change be made.
As Fenster and Hockney enter the garage shortly before the jewelry heist, Hockney can be heard telling a joke about a "chick" in the backseat of a car that is "totally naked." The punchline of this joke can be heard later on in the film in Hungarian, told by two Hungarians leaving a building by the docks, before the climactic finish at the boat.
The role of Kujan was initially written with Chazz Palminteri in mind. However, when he proved unavailable, the role was offered to Christopher Walken, Clark Gregg, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, the latter being rather interested in playing the part. Pacino later decided against it, as he had just played a cop in Heat (1995). When Chazz Palminteri finally became available, it was only for a week. Clark Gregg ended up playing the part of Dr. Walters.
Gabriel Byrne originally turned down the film, not believing that the filmmakers could pull it off. He was convinced after a sit-down meeting with Christopher McQuarrie and Bryan Singer, impressed by their enthusiasm and vision. As the start date approached, Byrne backed out. He was undergoing personal issues at the time and was unable to leave Los Angeles. Consequently, Singer reshuffled the schedule so that the entire film could be made in the L.A. area over a period of five weeks, all to accommodate his lead actor.
In the "making of" documentary, both Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Pollak acknowledge that their long-standing feud with each other began on the set of this film. Though neither actor directly states what caused their animosity towards each other, Pollak does mention that Baldwin, in an attempt to stay in character as MacManus, would go around acting tough and sometimes bully the other actors. Baldwin does admit that he was bullying towards Pollak on film (their numerous "stand off" confrontations with each other on screen).
Kevin Spacey had to read the script twice when he first received it, to make sure he fully understood it.
Bryan Singer described the film as Double Indemnity (1944) meets Rashomon (1950), and said that it was made "so you can go back and see all sorts of things you didn't realize were there the first time. You can get it a second time in a way you never could have the first time around." He also compared the film's structure to Citizen Kane (1941) (which also contained an interrogator and a subject who is telling a story) and the criminal caper The Anderson Tapes (1971).
Neither Bryan Singer nor Christopher McQuarrie realized that the film's famous line, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist," was actually a quote from French poet Baudelaire.
In the original script, the opening scene was longer, featuring a subplot of Keaton planting a bomb on the ship. It was shot but later left on the cutting floor. Part of it remained with Keaton asking Keyzer, "What time is it?" Because of the last minute change, all shots of the exploding ship were shot in director Bryan Singer's backyard.
Christopher McQuarrie wrote nine drafts of the screenplay over a period of five months.
Michael Biehn was asked to audition for the role of McManus, but he passed on the offer because he found the script too confusing. The role went to Stephen Baldwin, who was the second choice. Biehn later admitted that he had made a huge mistake.
Christopher McQuarrie reputedly got the idea for the film whilst standing in a cinema line-up.
In the scene where Mr. Kobayashi's bodyguards are shot in the elevator, a match cut shows McManus above the lift doors. This shot of Stephen Baldwin was filmed outside in the car park as a pick-up.
Stephen Baldwin was wary about joining the production, as he was tired of taking part in independent films that turned out to be merely exploitative.
Verbal Kint tells Kujan, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." McQuarrie paraphrased the line, which was originally written as "The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist" by French poet Charles Baudelaire.
Jeff Bridges, Johnny Cash, Chris Cornell, Tommy Lee Jones, Charlie Sheen, James Spader and Christopher Walken were all offered the part of Redfoot, the L.A. fence.
In one of his most infamous reviews, Roger Ebert gave thumbs down to the movie, giving one and a half stars.
In December 2017, amid a flood of sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne said that, at one point during shooting, production was shut down for two days because Spacey made unwanted sexual advances toward a younger actor. On June 2018, Kevin Pollak claimed that the person in question was actually the then-boyfriend of director Bryan Singer.
Writer Christopher McQuarrie chose the name Keyser Soze from an English-to-Turkish dictionary.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners and two Oscar nominees: Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro and Christopher McQuarrie (winners), and Chazz Palminteri and Pete Postlethwaite (nominees).
The Japanese characters on the outside of the meeting room where Kobayashi is talking with Edie Finneran and others say "Kobayashi" and "bengoshi" (attorney); the ones in reverse on the window read "seikou" (success), "chikara" (strength), and "zaisan" (assets).
Bryan Singer spent an 18-hour day shooting the underground parking garage robbery. According to Gabriel Byrne, by the next day Singer still did not have all of the footage that he wanted, and refused to stop filming in spite of the bonding company's threat to shut down the production.
Bryan Singer wanted the music for the boat heist to resemble Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. The ending's music was based on a k.d. lang song.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
In march 2019, series 2 episode 3 of the Channel Four (UK) series "Derry Girls" had a running gag on "The Usual Suspects" as the series was set in the 1990s when "The Usual Suspects" was still being showing in cinemas in Northern Ireland. Including a running gag and reveal of the identity of Kayser using a clear physical description of which character played them.
In the scene where Mr. Kobayashi's bodyguards are shot in the elevator, McManus is wearing a disguise that resembles Bruce Lee's disguise in Fist of Fury (1972).
Ghostface Killah sampled Verbal Kint's lines, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist" and "And like that, he's gone," for his 1996 song "The Soul Controller."
Ghostface Killah also sampled the exchange between McManus and Keaton about the discovery that there is no cocaine on board the ship for the track "Assassination Day" from his 1996 album "Iron Man".
The man who hands Redfoot the briefcase for the payoff is wearing an OD green army jacket with a yellow 1st Cavalry Division shoulder patch. The same jacket reappears worn by the shot gun wielding thug in the corridor of the boat killed by McManus.
Giancarlo Esposito goes on to play a low key, inconspicuous drug lord/crime boss who regularly talks to and easily dupes law enforcement in Breaking Bad (2008).
Kevin Spacey and Gabriel Byrne have both been in productions of Long Day's Journey into Night. Spacey was in a British-American production in 1987, and Bryne was in the 2015 Broadway revival of the play.
In 2001, an episode of the BBC Two nostalgic documentary series "I Love 1995" had a feature on "The Usual Suspects", with some of the cast, and discussion of the plot, and the famous identity question of "Who is Keyser Söze?". The episode formed part of the 30 episode antholgy series trilogy "I love the 1970s", "I love the 1980s", and "I love the 1990s", each episode focusing on events from each year.
Although this was a commercial and critical hit, famed film critic Roger Ebert hated this movie. He only gave it a half-star: "Once again, my comprehension began to slip, and finally I wrote down: 'To the degree that I do understand, I don't care.' It was, however, somewhat reassuring at the end of the movie to discover that I had, after all, understood everything I was intended to understand. It was just that there was less to understand than the movie at first suggests." It should also be noted this is one of the many classic that Kevin Spacey would star in when he was still on the A-List in Hollywood. At this point he was one of the most critically acclaimed actors in Hollywood. Now he is considered to be an (alleged) sex offender; and is a pariah in Hollywood.
The scene where the men meet to discuss the heist was filmed at the Korean Friendship Bell (see filming locations), in the same park as a scene in National Security (2003).
Stephen Baldwin and Gabriel Byrne previously appeared in A Simple Twist of Fate (1994), though they didn't share any scenes in that movie.
Gabriel Byrne as Satan and Kevin Pollak would later work together again in End of Days (1999), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Chazz Palminteri and Stephen Baldwin would later work together again in Scar City (1998).
There are three references to Pulp Fiction (1994) They are as follows Peter Greene Was Zed and appears here as Redfoot Verbal is referred to as "The Gimp" There are two occurrences where someone looks into a briefcase. When Kobayashi gives the crew a briefcase to the crew in their initial meeting, and when Hockney looks into the case in the back of the van during the burning of the boat.
Although by 2019 the identity and plot twist of Keyser Söze's identity had passed into common general knowledge, and become shorthand for a certain plot element, many people still hadn't seem the film. In fact, one tv series, set in 1995, which used "The Usual Suspects" as a major plot device and running gag had episode in march 2019 which gave a major spoiler to the ending of the film. However, the film can still be watched if the viewer does know the plot twist as it still works as a study of the "villian" hiding in plain sight.
The young Kaiser Söze in the flashback scenes has very long hair. Not just a ponytail, but almost down to his waist. This was probably not a conscious decision by the filmmakers, since the actor playing young Söze was chosen because of the way he couldn't keep his arms straight, and it can be assumed that nobody really cared about his hair. However, Turkish people notoriously hate men with long hair. They have more or less accepted long haired men in the big cities, but in the eastern parts a man with long hair can hardly take a walk on the street without getting dissed at, or perhaps even beaten, even today. There were even documented cases in the 70's where judges would consider it a mitigating circumstance if a victim of violence had long hair (meaning that he was asking for it) and give lighter sentences to the attackers. There were cases where famous musicians and artists would routinely face abuse or physical violence from regular people or even the police, because they had long hair. Especially in the 70's or 80's (when the flashback scene is supposed to take place) a man with hair as long as Söze could not exist without attracting unwanted attention from everyone in Turkey, especially the police. Thus he would stand out like sore thumb, couldn't have run an illegal business, probably couldn't even get out of his house. A minor cultural point perhaps (understandably missed by the filmmakers) but to make a comparison: it would be the equivalent of a flamboyant drag queen drug lord in Iran.