Boxing and kick-boxing champion Lucia Rijker, who also plays the part of Billie "The Blue Bear" in the film, was Hilary Swank's boxing coach.
At age 74, Clint Eastwood became the oldest Best Director Oscar winner for this movie.
Producer Albert S. Ruddy loved the story and was determined to make it into a film and spent four years trying to find backers who were interested in helping him make it. "I couldn't get anybody interested", he said in an interview, "and I'm talking about people who are friends of mine, people I've done business with for years. They'd tell me "Who wants to see a movie about two old grizzled guys and a girl fighter?"" Eventually he found someone interested - Clint Eastwood. The actor-director read the script and said "It's a downer...but God, it's gorgeous".
Morgan Freeman was originally approached to play the role of Frankie Dunn. But even before Clint Eastwood took on directing and starring roles, he decided to take the part of Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris.
Hilary Swank contracted a bacterial infection from a blister she developed on her foot during training for her role. The infection was so serious that she almost had to be hospitalized for three weeks. Catching the infection in the nick of time, she instead chose to take a week off for medicated rest and didn't tell Clint Eastwood or the other producers of the film about the injury, because she didn't believe it was in character.
Hilary Swank underwent a serious training schedule to prepare for this film. She gained nearly twenty pounds of muscle due to the workouts.
"Mo chuisle" literally means "my pulse," but can mean "my love" or "my darling". It's a term of endearment taken from the original phrases "A chuisle mo chroí" or "Pulse of my heart".
The movie is based on three short stories from Jerry Boyd's short stories: "The Monkey Look," "Million $$$ Baby" and "Frozen Water." Some parts of the introduction were used as well.
Released in December to qualify for the Academy Awards. Remarkably, the film hadn't even begun shooting in July that year.
Stayed in the top five at the box-office every weekend, from the time it was nominated for Best Picture, until after the Academy Awards.
Writer Paul Haggis was directing Crash (2004) and was scheduled to direct this film when Clint Eastwood (who was to act only) asked to direct it as well. Haggis agreed to step aside as director.
Jerry Boyd (a.k.a. author F.X. Toole) died a month after learning that Clint Eastwood had signed on to make a film out of his work.
Hilary Swank engaged with her character Maggie easily as her upbringing was very similar.
The first shot of Frankie and Scrap in the gym office was filmed with a split diopter lens. This is a close-up accessory lens cut half so it changes the focal point of only half of the scene, allowing both the foreground on one side and background on the other side to appear sharp. Brian De Palma is famous for using this technique in his films.
Clint Eastwood was the only nominee for the Best Actor Oscar in 2005 to play a fictitious character. All four of the other nominees portrayed real people in their respective films.
Sandra Bullock was the first actress attached to play Maggie, and she wanted to pursue Shekhar Kapur as a director. By the time a studio expressed an interest in the project, her commitment to Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005) prevented her from doing the film.
Stuck in development hell for years with many studios rejecting it because of its relatively downbeat subject matter. Even Warner Brothers rejected it, despite their longstanding association with Clint Eastwood, refusing to put up the thirty million dollars required. Eastwood persuaded Lakeshore Entertainment's Tom Rosenberg to put up half the budget, along with Warner Bros.
One of two times when the presenter handing Eastwood an Oscar was Barbara Streisand. She previously handed him the Best Director Oscar of Unforgiven (1992). Before giving the second movie award to him, she said, "I would be very happy to give you this again, Clint."
This is the 25th film Clint Eastwood has directed, the 57th film in which he has acted, and the 21st he has produced.
According to "Variety" the cost was actually closer to 18 million dollars instead of the reported 30 million dollars (the amount that was used for publicity reasons).
One of two times when Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese would compete for Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars. Clint Eastwood won this time, but four years later they would compete again with Scorsese winning for The Departed (2006) and Eastwood nominated for Letters From Iwo Jima (2006).
Prepping and shooting of the film was so quick, that Clint Eastwood basically kept the same crew as he used on Mystic River (2003) the year before.
Anjelica Huston originally brought the book "Rope Burns" to producer Albert S. Ruddy's attention, hoping that he would ask her to direct the film. (She guaranteed that he would cry after reading the "Million Dollar Baby" story, and he admits that he did.) However, by the time Ruddy acquired the rights, Huston was busy on another project.
Maggie's checkbook ledger contains an entry for Michael Sexton, the film's property master.
One of two Best Director and Best Picture Oscar winners featuring Clint Eastwood as actor/director and Morgan Freeman co-starring. Eastwood and Freeman worked together in Unforgiven (1992).
One of three Warner Bros. movies in a row where the Best Picture winner co-stars Morgan Freeman. The other two are Driving Miss Daisy (1989) and Unforgiven (1992). The Departed (2006) would be the first Warner Bros. Best Picture Oscar without Morgan Freeman since Amadeus (1984).
Hilary Swank won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in this movie, making her the first actress to win an Oscar for a portrayal of a boxer.
The term "million dollar baby" actually refers to the nose art on a World War II B24 heavy bomber.
Though this was the only time Clint Eastwood and Albert S. Ruddy won Oscars together for Best Picture, this wasn't the first time they were on stage for the Oscars. Clint Eastwood handed Albert S. Ruddy the Best Picture Oscar for the Godfather (1972) in 1973.
Shares with Chariots of Fire (1981) the largest haul of Academy Awards for a sports-themed movie, each film winning a total of four Oscars.
"Rope Burns: Stories From the Corner," a collection of short stories based on the experiences of long-time fight manager and cut-man Jerry Boyd, writing under the pen name F.X. Toole, was published in 2000 by Harper Collins. Toole was seventy at the time, and had been writing and battling rejection letters for forty years. "Rope Burns" was his first published work. Soon after its publication, he was commissioned to write his first novel, an epic story set on the Texas-Mexico border. He died on September 2, 2002, at the age of 72, just before his novel was finished. "Rope Burns" was dedicated to Jerry's partner and longtime friend Dub Huntley.
The name of the café that Hilary Swank's character works in is, "On the Waterfront Café".
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The first sports movie Clint Eastwood had made. His next one would be Trouble With the Curve (2012).
Of the three Best Picture Oscar winners featuring Morgan Freeman, this is the only one where he also won the Oscar. He was nominated for Best Leading Actor in Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
Albert S. Ruddy received his second Best Picture award for this film. The first, for The Godfather (1972), was presented to him by Clint Eastwood.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.
Second sports film for Hilary Swank after her starring debut in The Next Karate Kid (1994).
Hilary Swank's Best Actress Oscar winning performance was the only nominee in the category in a Best Picture nominee that year.
Michael Peña would collaborate with screenwriter Paul Haggis again on their next film Crash (2004).
The only film in which Hilary Swank won an acting Oscar for her performance in a film which won Best Picture.