Detective Loki's tattoos, Freemason ring, and facial tics were all Jake Gyllenhaal's ideas.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Denis Villeneuve had such a great time doing Enemy (2013) that Villeneuve cast him for this movie without any audition.
The first time it was submitted to the MPAA, it received an NC-17 rating, due to its tone and subject matter. The film's torture scenes were later cut by a couple of frames, along with scenes suggesting pedophilia, and it then received the R-rating.
Ryan Gosling auditioned for the role of Detective Loki which later went to Jake Gyllenhaal, a frequent collaborator of director Denis Villeneuve (and a friendly professional rival of Gosling's, being that they often audition for the same roles). Villeneuve and Gosling would finally get their chance to work together in Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
Paul Dano admits to being attracted to roles of this nature (learning difficulties, screaming, nonsensical ranting) and says he draws on his own personal and private experiences to perfect these recurring roles.
To play Holly Jones, Melissa Leo wore a grey wig and a foam rubber posterior prepared by costume designer Renée April in order to "ground" her character. Leo also requested the props assistants to avoid cleaning her glasses after each day's shooting.
According to screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski, the original cut of the film was three hours.
For the hammer scene, Hugh Jackman was asked by Denis Villeneuve to be completely ferocious for the next take. That take was used in the final film.
According to screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski, Detective Loki grew up in a boys home and didn't really have a family. He's a prisoner of his own past with his own demons.
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2009 Blacklist, a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year.
After filming had been completed, the costume and prop departments donated all of the clothing and props to Fodac Thrift Store in Tucker, Georgia.
Detective Loki is clearly visible in many scenes wearing a Freemasons ring on his left hand.
Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale were set to star, with Bryan Singer directing, but the two actors opted to make The Fighter (2010) instead, though Wahlberg still received an executive producer credit for this film.
In this film, a detective named Loki obsessively tries to find two kidnapped children. In Norse Mythology there is a tale (Loka Táttur) where the god Loki persistently tries to protect a child from a giant named Skrymir after Odin and Hönir had both tried and given up on the task.
Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to the project for a long time, but he dropped out.
The byline of one of the newspaper articles shown in the film is "Aaron Guzikowski," the film's screenwriter.
Detective Loki's cards reveal his full name to be David Wayne Loki.
Hugh Jackman portrays a father whose daughter is kidnapped and missing in this film. He was originally attached to play a similar role in The Lovely Bones (2009), but dropped out. That role was filled by Mark Wahlberg, who at one point was attached to play the lead role in this film.
The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Melissa Leo and Viola Davis; and three Oscar nominees: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Terrence Howard.
Hugh Jackman was attached to the project with Antoine Fuqua directing. Both dropped out. After several years in development, Jackman returned in the lead role.
When detective Loki is looking through the notebook he finds at Bob Taylor's, the last page you see has a character drawn on it that looks a lot like the rabbit from Jake Gyllenhaal's movie Donnie Darko (2001).
The name of Alex Jones' aunt is Holly Jones. Holly Jones is also the name of a ten-year old girl who was kidnapped and murdered in Toronto in 2003.
There are no opening credits, just the title of the movie.
To prepare for his role as Detective Loki, Jake Gyllenhaal watched 100 hours of police interrogation footage.
Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) has zodiac symbols tattooed on his right hand fingers (Leo, Scorpio, Aries, Virgo). Jake Gyllenhaal starred in Zodiac (2007) directed by David Fincher.
Timothée Chalamet auditioned for a role.
The scene where Hugh Jackman attacks Paul Dano's character with a hammer was largely adlibbed. Amazingly, Dano didn't flinch as Jackman was threatening him.
This film earned Roger Deakins his 12th Best Cinematography Oscar nomination. He would receive two more nominations before finally winning his first Academy Award on his 15th nomination for Blade Runner 2049 (2017), also directed by Denis Villeneuve.
The film takes place in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
The two main mothers in the film are named Nancy and Grace, a possible nod to true crime commentator Nancy Grace.
Zoë Soul's debut.
The original script was set in the suburbs of Boston but was later changed to the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Denis Villeneuve first met Roger Deakins at the Academy Awards when the former was up for the Best Foreign Language Oscar for Incendies (2010). A huge fan of the film, Deakins told Villeneuve that he'd love to work with him. It just so happened that Villeneuve was able to send him the screenplay to Prisoners (2013) shortly after.
Keller Dover owns a home that he inherited from his deceased father. Its location is on "Campello Street." The film's screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski was born in Brockton, MA, which has a prominent neighborhood known as "Campello."
Three of the main actors in the film have been seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hugh Jackman famously plays Wolverine/Logan in the X-Men series, Terrence Howard starred as Rhodey in Iron Man (2008) (before being replaced by Don Cheadle in the film's sequels), and Jake Gyllenhaal played Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019). In addition, Viola Davis has appeared in the DCEU as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad (2016). David Dastmalchian has appeared in both the MCU as Kurt in the Ant-Man series (2015-2018) the DCEU as Abner Krill/Polka-Dot Man in The Suicide Squad (2021), Joker's Thug in The Dark Knight (2008) and Paul Dano appears in the DCEU playing Riddler in The Batman (2022).
Jessica Chastain was rumored for a role.
Although released after this film, Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal actually filmed Enemy (2013) beforehand. Villeneuve saw it as a warm-up for the bigger gig of Prisoners (2013) and also to give him his first opportunity to work in English.
Lee Daniels was another early contender to direct.
Aaron Guzikowski built up the screenplay from a short story he wrote.
Filmed entirely in the state of Georgia.