Because it was not certain that the movie would be a hit, and that other adaptations of Dan Brown's novels would follow, this movie was made as a stand-alone movie, rather than the beginning of a franchise. All references to the fact that Robert Langdon had already solved another murder riddle (in the novel "Angels and Demons", which precedes "The Da Vinci Code") were therefore purposefully left out of the script. When the movie was a huge financial success, production of Angels & Demons (2009) was started shortly after the release (but re-written as a sequel, not a prequel).
To protect both the fabric of the building and the works of art it contains, the production's use of the Louvre Museum in Paris was carefully controlled. For instance, no equipment was allowed inside the Louvre during the opening hours, so filming took place at night. Since the crew were not permitted to shine light on the Mona Lisa, a replica was used to film instead. No blood or mysterious writings were permitted on the wooden floor of the museum, so these scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios, outside London. In the end, five replicas of the Mona Lisa were used.
Audrey Tautou revealed that, during her audition, she asked if she could take a photo of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks to prove that she'd actually met them.
The poster outside the elevator in the Louvre is Caravaggio's "The Boy in the Well". This represents Langdon's falling in a well as a boy.
When Teabing (Sir Ian McKellen) is describing the passage in the lost gospel of Philip, he is interrupted before he can finish quoting a line about Jesus kissing Magdelene. During an interview on NPR's "Day to Day", religious historian Elaine Pagels (whose book on the gnostic gospels was a source for Dan Brown's novel) said that the gospel is physically broken at exactly the place that Teabing stops talking, so he would be unable to quote it any further anyway.
Officials from Britain's Westminster Abbey refused to allow filming to take place in the Abbey, claiming that the book is "theologically unsound". Instead, the filming took place at Lincoln Cathedral in eastern England.
There is a gargoyle spied by Sophie inside Rosslyn Chapel that is modelled after producer and director Ron Howard's face.
The French Inspector's name, "Bezu Fache", is a crude pun. In French, the words roughly translate to "angry fucker". This alludes to Fache's short-tempered attitude.
According to Jean Reno, Dan Brown wrote the part of Captain Fache with him in mind.
Producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard received an invitation from French President Jacques Chirac. They expected a five-minute photo call. Instead, they spent an hour in conversation, and were told to speak to him if they had problems getting filming in the Louvre. Chirac suggested Jean Reno should have a pay raise, and that his daughter's best friend, an actress, should be cast as Sophie Neveu.
Lincoln Cathedral's bell, "Great Tom", which strikes the hour, was silent for the first time since World War II, while filming took place in the cathedral between August 15 and 19, 2005.
Ron Howard always wanted Audrey Tautou for the role of Sophie, but she was never available for an audition. She also originally felt too young to play opposite Tom Hanks. After some convincing from Howard, she auditioned, and got the role.
The mural on the ceiling at the Cardinals' meeting place is called Hell, representing Aringarosa as a Fallen Angel.
Ron Howard's first envisioned choice for the role of Robert Langdon was Bill Paxton. Paxton was interested, but turned it down because of scheduling conflicts. Russell Crowe was then seriously considered for the role, but ultimately Howard decided on his long-time friend Tom Hanks for the role. Other actors considered for the part were Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Jackman, and George Clooney.
24 (2001) creator Joel Surnow thought that "The Da Vinci Code" would provide a great storyline for the show's third season. Surnow asked his boss, producer Brian Grazer, about acquiring the film rights to the book. Dan Brown had no intention of his book being adapted for a television show, and rejected their bid. Several months later, Sony Pictures paid $6 million for the book, and hired Brian Grazer as producer.
Because the crew wasn't allowed to film at Saint-Sulpice, the scenes were shot in front of a greenscreen, with a digital replica of the church added in the background.
Dan Brown named character Sir Leigh Teabing after two of the authors, Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, of the book "Holy Blood, Holy Grail." Leigh is the surname of Richard Leigh and Teabing is an anagram of the surname Baigent. Leigh and Baigent unsuccessfully attempted to sue Brown for copyright infringement.
Sir Ian McKellen concocted a more detailed backstory for Sir Leigh Teabing, in order to help his performance. Some of these ideas are reflected in the art direction of Teabing's château, including a portrait of Teabing's widow.
Thure Lindhardt had booked his first Hollywood movie part as Silas the Albino and for a long time, he was clearly the running favorite until, ultimately, he was discounted on the grounds that he "looked too young", and Ron Howard decided on Paul Bettany. However, Lindhardt later got a significant supporting role in "Angels & Demons (2009)."
Brian Grazer cancelled twenty-seven interviews at Cannes, to minimize the surrounding controversies this movie had already generated.
France's Culture Ministry granted permission for limited access for the crew to film inside the Louvre at night.
Ron Howard originally wanted to film inside King's College Library, as per the book, but the college did not want to close off a section of the library.
Near the end of the movie's trailer, the word "SEEK" in the phrase "Seek the Truth" is highlighted. Then, when the cast names are shown, the letters T, H, S, E, C, D, E, and O are highlighted. If you rearrange the highlighted letters and add the word, you get the phrase "SEEK THE CODES".
The novel contains a sequence in which Sophie and Langdon escape from a museum guard by Sophie threatening to destroy a Da Vinci painting. These scenes are not in the theatrical release of the movie, although they were filmed, and images from the scene are included with the published screenplay. Some of these scenes are restored to the movie in the Extended Edition DVD, available in Great Britain (region 2), but as of 2007, not available in region 1 (U.S. and Canada).
In the story, Robert Langdon's publisher is called Jonas Faukman. Jonas Faukman is an anagram of Dan Brown's real-life publisher, Jason Kaufman.
Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, and Jean-Pierre Marielle dubbed their voices in France-French and French-Canadian.
The close-up shots of the exterior of Rosslyn Chapel are genuine, but the two distant shots of the chapel aren't actually of Rosslyn Chapel. This is because the chapel was swathed in scaffolding when filming took place. The first (overhead) shot looks like a different location entirely, with a chapel that resembles Rosslyn. The second shot, looking up a wooded hillside to the chapel, is indeed a shot of Roslin Glen with the chapel in the right location, but with the other chapel pasted in. The penultimate scene at the ruined castle is indeed filmed at Roslin Castle, a partial-ruin that's a couple of hundred yards from the chapel. It's privately owned, but visitors can easily view the exterior and the bridge which were shown in the film. The chapel is noted for its many internal carvings, including what appears to be a depiction of American maize, but the chapel was completed before 1492.
The release of the movie sparked so much controversy that its initial release was delayed in India due to the protest of devout Christians. They even lobbied to have the movie banned in India.
The self-chastening scene of Silas had to be done in one take, using different camera angles, because Paul Bettany actually whipped himself to make it more realistic. An extra camera was pointed at his feet, that cramped with the real pain.
As with the other two movies, author Dan Brown named main character Robert Langdon after John Langdon, a close friend, and typography master, who worked with Brown on ambigram designs for his book "Angels & Demons", as well as the movies. John Langdon also designed an ambigram that was used in Monkeyshine (2008).
The movie sparked so much controversy that its initial release was stalled from the worldwide release in India, owing to the Jesuits' protest. The court overruled the appeal, in favor of the movie, citing it was based on a book, implying the book will have had to have been banned, as the books were out in circulation, the movie was rendered harmless.
The logo of the bank incorporates the symbol for Phi, whose value can be derived from the Fibonacci Sequence.
Julie Delpy and Kate Beckinsale were two of the original people thought of for the role of Sophie. Delpy wanted the role badly and lobbied for it, but she was ultimately turned down.
On the first day of filming, Tom Hanks (Langdon) let out a huge fart while in pain after being accidentally punched in the stomach by Paul Bettany (Silas).
The rose, in an alabaster jar, placed at the former locations of Mary Magdalene's sarcophagus, is a symbol of Mary Magdalene.
An ex-Opus Dei member went on the record in a tie-in documentary to say that wearing a cilice to quell lust doesn't work.
The air freshener hanging from Collet's rearview mirror is in the shape of the Archangel Gabriel. The Archangel Gabriel represents the messenger of a call to duty.
Hans Zimmer replaced James Horner (long time collaborator with Ron Howard), while Horner took the offer to compose the music for The New World (2005), when Zimmer couldn't accept it, because of scheduling conflicts.
In the novel, Dan Brown claims that the Disney movie The Little Mermaid (1989) gave its heroine Ariel red hair as a reference to paganism, and a symbolic grail story. This is inaccurate. Ariel, in fact, had red hair to distinguish her from Madison in Splash (1983) (the first collaboration between Ron Howard and Tom Hanks). Tom Hanks went on to play Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (2013).
While pointing out Mary Magdalene in Da Vinci's "The Last Supper", Teabing is insulted when Sophie asks "The prostitute?", a reaction which is actually justified; there is nothing in the Bible that says or even suggests that Mary engaged in that line of work.
Etienne Chicot and Marie-Francoise Audollent dubbed their own voices in France-French, but not French-Canadian.
Some of the Metropolitan Police vehicles used in the London scenes are the same vehicles that were used in the ITV television series The Bill. These vehicles were originally purchased from S Macneillie & Sons (now Babcock International), the company that supplied the Met with their vehicles. Meaning they are completely authentic Metropolitan Police vehicles.
Sophie Marceau, Virginie Ledoyen, Judith Godrèche, and Linda Hardy auditioned for the role of Sophie Neveu.
Captain Fache calls the Le Louvre glass pyramid a "scar of the face of Paris". Many Parisians were very hostile to this modern edifice in the middle of the palace's courtyard but it is now regarded by most as an architectural beauty and achievement.
Sophie drives a Smart Fortwo which has been adopted by many Parisians for its size and is reputed to park anywhere in car-congested Paris.
In the first theatrical trailer for the film, after the tag-line "Seek the Truth," in which the word SEEK illuminates itself, a list of the stars' names are seen, with random characters being illuminated. The letters, in order, are T, H, S, E, C, D, E, and O. Much like the book, if one rearranges all the letters, it spells out, "Seek the codes."
The name Sophie means wisdom. Sophie will need wisdom in her choices given her newly found calling.
Angels & Demons (2009) takes place in the Vatican. Jean Reno and Alfred Molina, who appeared in this movie, do not have parts in the sequel. Instead, they appeared in a different sequel released the same year, which also included scenes in the Vatican, The Pink Panther 2 (2009).
Reunite Jean Reno and Ian McKellen, they starred in other movie released on the same year: Flushed Away (2006).
Dan Brown: When Robert Langdon is talking with the police during the signing party for his book. He is seen to the left of Tom Hanks immediately after the line, "We found your name in his daily planner." He is wearing the Harris Tweed jacket from his dust jacket publicity photo. He can also be seen a short time before, at five minutes and nine seconds, when the camera moves through the crowd of people. He is talking to a man, holding one of Langdon's books.
Cheryl Howard: (At four minutes and fifteen seconds) Ron Howard's wife can be glimpsed as an audience member (center frame, red shoulder-length hair) attending Professor Robert Langdon's lecture on Religious Symbology. (At five minutes and forty seconds) She can be seen clutching her copy of Langdon's autographed opus at his book-signing desk, and asking for him to sign his last book.