Charlie Wilson said in a USA Today article that he had no qualms about the film, saying "Anything I might have objected to, was provable".
Though recuperating from heart transplant surgery, the real Charlie Wilson made it to the red carpet premiere of the film.
Towards the end of the movie, Charlie Wilson is presented with one of the Stingers he helped provide to the Afghanis. In an interview, the real Charlie Wilson said the Stinger is one of his most prized possessions, kept in "a very honored spot in my home."
Charlie Wilson's aides were all beautiful well-endowed women nicknamed Charlie's Angels (1976) after the television show. In real life, his chief aide was a man named Charlie Schnabel.
Charlie Wilson openly admitted he never objected to the idea of his cocaine habit being portrayed in the movie. No scenes of Tom Hanks snorting cocaine on screen existed, however.
An early draft of the script made the connections between the mission in Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks much more explicit. It was dropped when both Mike Nichols and Tom Hanks cut those scenes and made the subjects present but more implicit.
A special effects assistant was seriously injured when a hand-held mock-up of a Stinger missile exploded as it was being prepared for use in a scene aboard a helicopter.
Near the end, while Charlie Wilson is standing on the balcony with Gust Avrakotos during a party celebrating the defeat of the Soviet army in Afghanistan, Gust warns Charlie of future problems if he and the other members of Congress do not follow up on giving economic aid to the Afghani's. As Gust finished this warning, Charlie thinks about what he said, and you hear an airliner flying over Washington, D.C. It is an obvious, ominous reference to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
In addition to the lifestyle portrayed on screen, Charlie Wilson had a DUI Hit-and-Run charge on the Key Bridge, outside Georgetown. He was never indicted; otherwise, he would have been far less successful securing money for his project in Afghanistan. The History Channel documentary about his life suggests that he drank that night (and other nights) to ease the pain he felt for the Afghan people.
At the function thrown by Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) for President Zia (Om Puri), Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) denies to President Zia that he can guarantee anything, saying that he has already come close to violating the Logan Act. The Logan Act was enacted in 1799, at the beginning of the U.S.'s history, and prevents any individual from attempting to negotiate with, or influence, any foreign government over any matter of interest or significance to the U.S. government without the U.S. government's authorization. Since its adoption, there has never been a successful prosecution under the Logan Act, and no member of Congress has ever been charged with a violation of the Logan Act, despite public outcries over efforts by various members of Congress to express their own views about certain U.S. policies.
A vintage Miss Texas photo of Mary Nell Hubbard (1958) was used for a scene in the movie because Julia Roberts plays a former beauty queen. Hubbard wouldn't take payment for the photo she provided. She privately joked, "I've gone from a headline to an archive to an artifact," and her daughter gently teases her that she is a body double for Julia Roberts.
Charlie Wilson is invited to Joanne Herring's home for a party. In her house, we see a full length painting of her. Except for Julia Roberts's features, this painting is a copy of John Singer Sargent's "Madame X".
The movie makes a point of citing Charlie Wilson's close ties to the Israelis, including his contact with a Mossad agent who helps arrange the Stinger transfers with Pakistan, but an early draft of the script had a sequence taken directly from George Crile's book, in which Charlie suspends working with Israel for a long time over his anger and disgust over events in the 1982 Lebanon War. The script dropped this, because Wilson and the Israelis got back to the point of working closely together, and it was decided the 1982-set subplot was unnecessary.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman; and two Oscar nominees: Ned Beatty, and Amy Adams.
Denis O'Hare plays a character called Harold Holt. Harold Holt was an Australian Prime Minister who went missing off a beach in Australia, and is presumed to have drowned.
As the action in Afghanistan begins to get hot, with the Mujahadeen finally getting the weapons they need to destroy the heavily armored Soviet helicopters, an intense combination of middle-Eastern drumming and an English-speaking vocal chorus is heard. The piece being sung is taken from George F. Handel's christian classic, "The Messiah." It is In Part I, piece 7, the Chorus commonly know as "And He shall purify..." The final credits neglect to acknowledge this music, a piece familiar to aficionados of "The Messiah" often performed prior to the Christmas season.
One of three films starring both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. They also appeared in Doubt (2008) and The Master (2012).
In one scene, Joanne (played by Julia Roberts) mentions that the campaign film she presented to Charlie wasn't a quality film to be submitted to the Golden Globes. Coincidentally, this film managed to get nominated in five categories at the Globes.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin was very happy that Mike Nichols directed Charlie Wilson's War.
This is the first film where Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts worked together. They would later star together in Larry Crowne (2011).
Marks the third character Tom Hanks has played with the surname "Wilson". He also played Kip and Buffy Wilson on the television show Bosom Buddies.