According to the real Frank Abagnale, Jr., approximately eighty percent of the movie is true.
The film shows Frank Abagnale, Jr. on the FBI's Most Wanted list. In real life, however, he never made the list - it's reserved for violent criminals.
To get her to achieve the way he wanted her to sloppily kiss Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg asked Amy Adams to pretend she was starving to death and eating a cheeseburger.
Some FBI agents did occasionally chase Abagnale, but he didn't have a relationship with any of them, and he certainly didn't call them every Christmas. As Abagnale himself points out with flawless logic: "Why would I do that? I didn't want the FBI to know where I was."
All road and concrete surfaces are wet in every shot, even though all scenes take place in sunny weather. Many cinematographers simply prefer the look of wet roads.
The FBI officer who was chasing Frank, and was the main inspiration for "Carl Hanratty," was really Joe Shea. Frank Abagnale, Jr. used the pseudonym "Sean O'Reilly" in his book because Joe Shea was still in the FBI. He has since passed away.
Until he saw the results of Leonardo DiCaprio's work, the real Frank Abagnale, Jr. didn't think DiCaprio was "suave" enough to play him.
The blackboard that Carl Hanratty is writing on toward the end of the movie contains a small note at the bottom that says, "Steven and Tom's 4th project". Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, had previously collaborated on Band of Brothers (2001) , Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Joe Versus the Volcano (1990).
According to the real Frank Abagnale, Jr., after he ran out of the courtroom, he never saw, or spoke to his father again. However, Spielberg thought it would make a better story to have him communicate with his father, so they left it in.
When Frank begins recruiting decoy flight attendants and he is announcing the girls chosen, he uses the actresses real surnames. For example, Miggy Acker is played by actress Amy Acker, Ilene Anderson is played by Jamie Anderson, and so on.
The story of Frank Abagnale, Jr.'s exploits had one of the longest and most difficult journeys from its first pitch to its eventual production. In 1981 it was originally announced that his story would be filmed and that Frank would be played by Dustin Hoffman.
Seventeen-year-old Frank tells Brenda he's 28 years old, which was Leonardo DiCaprio's true age when Catch Me If You Can premiered in 2002.
Leonardo DiCaprio was an ironic choice for the lead, Frank Abagnale was known to have resembled an adult at a young age. While in Hollywood, Leo is known for his very young appearance despite his age.
Gore Verbinski pushed production back a few months because Leonardo DiCaprio had to re-shoot scenes for Gangs of New York (2002), The delay led to James Gandolfini's withdrawal, because he had to go back to work on The Sopranos (1999). He was replaced by Tom Hanks. David Fincher, Cameron Crowe and Lasse Hallström were asked to direct before Steven Spielberg, who only wanted to produce the movie, took over.
The first cut of the film was about eighty percent authentic, as quoted at the epilogue of Abagnale's book. Some scenes were corrected, added and changed as per request of the real Frank Abagnale, Jr. to ensure total authenticity.
According to costume designer Mary Zophres, there were about 130 'day-players' (bit part actors) and 3,000-4,000 background extras employed, and Leonardo DiCaprio had 100 costume changes through the film.
In his biography, Abagnale says that if he wanted to "lay down a baby con," he would lie about his childhood. All the stuff about Abagnale's dad being a hustler is made up as the real Frank, Sr. was not only a straight shooter, but also one of Frank, Jr.'s first victims, since the kid started his criminal life with petty scams involving his dad's credit card. He once racked up thousands on a spending spree before his dad got the bill.
Steven Spielberg's original choice for the role of Frank Abagnale, Jr. was Johnny Depp.
The scenes in the French classroom, and the library, were filmed at McKinley School in Pasadena, California. During spring break six months after the film's release, to the school administration's surprise, the production crew came back and removed all of the set pieces that had been left behind. The school had been using the props ever since filming was completed.
The names on the forged diploma from Harvard Medical School actually contain the signatures of the then (2002) deans of both Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
The Aston Martin DB5 that was seen in the movie was sourced by Autosport Designs, Inc. of Huntington Station, New York, a specialist exotic car dealership. DreamWorks contacted Autosport Designs and asked if they could supply a silver DB5. However they did not have one in stock and instead contacted a customer and arranged for his car to be used. The car is the same make and model used in the movie Goldfinger (1964), one of Steven Spielberg's personal favorite films.
(Cameo) The real life Frank Abagnale, Jr.: The French officer that arrests Frank on Christmas Eve, 1967.
The opening title sequence is created by the duo Olivier Kuntzel + Florence Deygas. The "stamp style animation" lasts roughly 2 minutes 30 seconds and features silhouettes of the main characters acting out the plot of the film, even down to the smallest details. In a interview, Kuntzel + Deygas described they created this sequence by "stylistically transposing the handmade design of Saul Bass using decidedly modern means" and required that actual rubber stamps be carved out for each character featured.
Mrs. Abagnale's house, after she remarried, was the same house used for Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride Part II (1995).
The arrest scene in France was actually shot in Place Royale, Quebec City, Quebec. The church in the background is called Notre-Dame-des-Victoires and the bust in the middle of the place is of Louis XIV.
According to Box Office Mojo, Catch Me If You Can is the sixth highest grossing film for DreamWorks SKG. The films above it being Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek (2001), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Madagascar (2005), and Gladiator (2000).
The newly filmed clip from "To Tell the Truth", that opens the movie, was based on an actual episode, in which Frank was a guest. In that episode, not a single panelist correctly guessed that he was the real Frank Abagnale, Jr.
The television show scene at the beginning, happened in real life with the real Frank Abagnale, Jr.
In this film, Leonardo DiCaprio pretends to be a co-pilot for Pan-Am and for his first flight he cons TWA, which was founded by Howard Hughes. Two years later, coincidentally, Leo portrayed Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004).
When Abagnale gets his suit tailored to resemble James Bond, he signs himself as Mr. Fleming. Ian Fleming was the original author of James Bond.
When Handratty arrives at Frank's room when he's about to escape with the suitcases full of money, money floats from underneath the door; which is an homage to the "floating feather" in Hanks' most popular film, Forrest Gump (1994).
The exterior shots of Miami airport were filmed at the old Ontario, California Airport terminal. The old terminal is still standing, but it was converted to office space when the new Ontario Airport opened.
The concluding part of Steven Spielberg's unofficial "running man" trilogy, which started with A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and continued with Minority Report (2002).
The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, and Christopher Walken; and one Oscar nominee: Amy Adams.
When Frank is being extradited back to the United States, he is shown as being aboard a TWA airplane. DiCaprio would later go on to portray Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004). Hughes was, at one time, the owner of TWA and was in competition with Pan Am's head, Juan Trippe. Pan Am is the airline that Frank, in the movie, scams a lot of money and free flights by posing as one of their pilots.
When it appeared that Gore Verbinski would direct, Chloë Sevigny and Ed Harris were both considered for roles.
Frank is using the alias Dr. Connor. This is another comic book alter ego from spider-man.
When Hanratty (Tom Hanks) finds out that Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) is still at the hotel, he turns to Amdursky (Brian Howe) and says, "You just keep your eyes open, do your job and I'll buy you both a Good Humor bar." After Frank escapes, in the next scene, Amdursky is standing behind Hanratty and eating a Good Humor bar.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(Steven Spielberg): [flashlights]: At the beginning of the film, Carl shines one on the captured Frank Abagnale, Jr.'s face.
First of two movies starring Amy Adams and Tom Hanks, the other being " Charlie Wilsons War(2007)
When they show Frank, going to the bank for the first time cashing a check, as a phony pilot, they show a red seal 100 dollar bill being given; since he was only 17 years old, this would've made the year 1965; the red seal 100 dollar bills weren't introduced until 1966.
At 13 minutes and 13 seconds into the bonus material 'The Casting of the Film', Steven Spielberg is seen wearing a matching blue top and cap. The cap has 'FBI' written on the front in white letters. At 13 minutes and 28 seconds, Steven Spielberg is seen wearing the same shade of blue in a denim top and cap. The cap has 'E.T.' written on the front in white letters.
Jennifer Garner and Ellen Pompeo would later appear in Daredevil (2003) with Ben Affleck, who would later appear with Amy Adams in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017).
Tony Curtis compared his role of Ferdinand Waldo DeMarra in the movie "The Great Imposter" to this film. DeMarra was also a real life imposter who impersonated many real people in various professions, including a doctor, who performed real operations on board a Canadian naval vessel in the Korean War.