Jeff Bridges had been trying to have the movie made for nearly twenty years and even filmed a version of it with his family. Speaking on the Nerdist Podcast he said: "I originally wanted to direct my father in it. As a matter of fact, somewhere in some garage, there is a version of this movie with my father (Lloyd Bridges) playing The Giver, Bud Cort narrates the whole thing, Beau's kids, one is shooting it, one is playing Jonas. We did the whole book, so that's around somewhere."
Nelson Mandela died while the film was being shot in South Africa, and his image is used in the film as a "memory."
When Jeff Bridges first bought the film rights to the novel in the 1990s, he intended to cast his father Lloyd Bridges as the Giver.
In the original novel, Jonas and his friends are twelve years old; however, for the film they were aged up by six years.
Jeff Bridges learned that his friend and fellow actor Robin Williams had committed suicide on the same night that the film premiered. It is apparent that Bridges was trying his hardest to hide his pain and prevent himself from crying during interviews on the red carpet. Both men had co-starred in The Fisher King (1991).
Meryl Streep shot some of her scenes in England during breaks in filming Into the Woods (2014).
Katie Holmes plays Brenton Thwaites's mother, even though she is only ten years his senior. (This is entirely appropriate to the story, as families, in this future, are assembled by the state rather than biologically connected.)
Despite their combined decades' work in dozens of high-profile movies, this is the first film in which Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep co-star.
Despite being a large role in the film, Meryl Streep's role of the Chief Elder isn't a prominent role in the novel.
Four characters share the wrist birthmark: The Giver, Jonas, Rosemary and Gabriel. This appears to be a symbol of their telepathic ability, able to share/experience memories in complete detail. If The Giver's claim that Rosemary is his actual daughter holds true, if could also well mean (though never stated in the film) that Jonas and Gabriel are The Giver's biological sons, all possessing an inherited trait.
Brenton Thwaites was twenty-four years old during filming. This is exactly twice the age his character was in the original novel.
Singer Taylor Swift was offered the role of Rosemary a week after a Los Angeles concert in which she was completely unaware that the film's makers were in the audience.
The film, although sometimes accurate, doesn't at any point follow the sequence of the novel.
One of the main reasons Alexander Skarsgård signed on to the film was to work with Meryl Streep. On set, he learned that her role was a hologram, therefore, she would be shooting her scenes elsewhere.
Given the number of housing clusters and the approximate number of occupants in each house, the total population is approximately 20,000 individuals. The minimum number of people required to maintain a genetically diverse and healthy population is approximately 4,200 people, which makes this "civilization in a bottle" quite viable.
The five rules governing Receiver of Memory initiates are: (1) Report directly to the Receiver of Memory for training. After training, return immediately to your dwelling. (2) You are henceforth exempt from all rules governing rudeness. You may ask any question. (3) Aside from daily injections, you may not receive other medications - especially those for pain. (4) You may not discuss your training with anyone - ever. (5) You may lie.
To represent the colorless society in which Jonas lives, the film begins in black and white, gradually shifts into color to represent Jonas' ability to see color, and slowly transitions back into black and white.