At age sixty-eight, Sir Michael Caine was felt to be too old for his character, but his performance still led him to receive an Oscar nomination.
Sir Michael Caine agreed to play in this movie only if Craig Armstrong did the music, which was what eventually happened.
This movie ends with newspaper stories written by Thomas Fowler about Vietnam from 1954 to 1966. However, the book, on which this movie was based, was published in 1955, so these are mostly events which happened after the book came out.
The American release was delayed for more than a year by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The producers were concerned that this movie would be seen as anti-American.
Miramax paid 5.5 million dollars for the rights to distribute the movie in North America and some other territories, but then shelved it for a long time. Miramax even planned for this movie to go straight-to-video. But Sir Michael Caine successfully persuaded Miramax to screen this movie at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. This movie received many good reviews there, so Miramax decided to release this movie in the United States theatrically.
Director Phillip Noyce wanted Heath Ledger to play the role of Alden Pyle, but was happy with Brendan Fraser's work in this movie.
When Thomas Fowler (Sir Michael Caine) first introduces Phuong (Thi Hai Yen Do) to Alden Pyle (Brendan Fraser), the song "J'ai Deux Amours" (literal English meaning: "I Have Two Loves") can be heard being performed in the background.
This movie was released forty-seven years after Graham Greene's novel "The Quiet American" was published.
The name of the book, that Alden Pyle read constantly, was "The Dangers to Democracy" by York Harding.
Tom Cruise was, at one point, interested in the project, to play the role of Alden Pyle, but was never officially attached to it.
The title refers to the character of Alden Pyle. In The Quiet American (1958), the character, portrayed by Audie Murphy, was billed in the closing credits just as "The American".
The character name "Phuong" is Vietnamese, and translates into English as "Phoenix".
When talking to Charlie Rose about this movie, Sir Michael Caine said that his performance as Thomas Fowler was the best he had ever given.
Graham Greene said of his source novel, in "Ways of Escape", pages 139 and 140: "When my novel was eventually noticed in the 'New Yorker', the reviewer condemned me for accusing my 'best friends' (the Americans) of murder, since I had attributed to them the responsibility for the great explosion, far worse than the trivial bicycle bombs, in the main square of Saigon, when many people lost their lives. But what are the facts, of which the reviewer, needless to say, was ignorant? The Life photographer at the moment of the explosion, was so well placed, that he was able to take an astonishing and horrifying photograph, which showed the body of a trishaw driver, still upright after his legs had been blown off. This photograph was reproduced in an American propaganda magazine, published in Manila over the title 'The work of Ho Chi Minh', although General Thé had promptly and proudly claimed the bomb as his own. Who had supplied the material to a bandit who was fighting French, Caodaists, and Communists? Perhaps there is more direct rapportage, in the The Quiet American, than in any other novel I have written. I had determined to employ again, the experience I had gained with The End of the Affair, in the use of the first person and the time shift, and my choice of a journalist as the "I" seemed to me to justify the use of rapportage. The Press conference is not the only example of direct reporting. I was in the dive bomber (the pilot had broken an order of General de Lattre by taking me) which attacked the Viet Minh post, and I was on the patrol of the Foreign Legion paras outside Phat Diem. I still retain the sharp image of the dead child couched in the ditch, beside his dead mother. The very neatness of their bullet wounds made their deaths more disturbing, than the indiscriminate massacre in the canals around."
At a Q&A in Dublin, Ireland in 2003, Director Phillip Noyce said that Paramount Pictures originally planned to finance this movie, and at one point, Sir Sean Connery and Johnny Depp were to play the lead roles of Thomas Fowler and Alden Pyle respectively. However, Noyce said that Paramount Pictures eventually passed on making the movie.
The closing credits declare that this movie was: "Filmed on-location in Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Ninh Binh and Hanoi City, Vietnam, and at Fox Studios Australia, Sydney".
Two of this movie's personnel won awards by the London Film Critics Circle in 2002, for this movie. These included Best Actor of the Year for Sir Michael Caine, and Best Director of the Year (Phillip Noyce) for this movie and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) combined.
The character of "The American" in The Quiet American (1958), is not known by his name of Alden Pyle, as he is in the source novel and this movie.
Sir Michael Caine was offered the part of the lead character Maurice Castle in the earlier Graham Greene filmed adaptation The Human Factor (1979), but turned it down. He starred in two theatrical adaptations of Graham Greene novels: Beyond the Limit (1983) and this movie.
The newspaper that veteran journalist Thomas Fowler worked for, was "The London Times" a.k.a. "The Times" of London.
Debut English-language theatrical movie of Thi Hai Yen Do, who portrayed Phuong. She had appeared in two movies in Vietnamese, which were Song of the Stork (2002) and The Vertical Ray of the Sun (2000).
This movie was nominated for the 2004 Grand Prix award presented by the Belgian Film Critics Association, but it lost out to Marco Tullio Giordana's The Best of Youth (2003).
This movie was Executively Produced by two winners of the Best Director Academy Award, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, who won their Oscars in this category for the epics Out of Africa (1985) and The English Patient (1996), respectively.
Both theatrical movie versions of Graham Greene's novel "The Quiet American" (1955) were filmed in Vietnam, where the book is set, both filmed in Saigon, which is now known as Ho Chi Minh City, the filming location being referred to as Saigon in The Quiet American (1958), and Ho Chi Minh City in this movie, but within the stories of both movies, as it is set in 1952, the city in both stories is referred to as Saigon.
Sir Michael Redgrave and Sir Michael Caine, the two actors who have portrayed the character of Thomas Fowler in The Quiet American (1958) and this movie, respectively, appeared in Battle of Britain (1969).
Phillip Noyce directed Echoes of Paradise (1987), which was set in, and was filmed in, Phuket, Thailand. Echoes of Paradise (1987) was originally set, and was to be filmed in, Bali, Indonesia, but damaging media coverage about the country, in Australia, meant the movie, for political reasons, was not shot and set there, with Phuket, Thailand replacing Bali, Indonesia.
Intelligence agencies referenced and/or featured in this movie included the O.S.S. and the C.I.A.
Both of the actors who portrayed the character of Thomas Fowler in both of the theatrical feature film versions of Graham Greene's novel "The Quiet American" (1955), The Quiet American (1958) and this movie, Sir Michael Redgrave and Sir Michael Caine, respectively, were both first named "Michael".