The movie was inspired by the story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran in his 80s who became the world's oldest and most prolific drug mule for the Sinaloa Cartel.
Andy Garcia was ready to accept any role in order to do a movie with Clint Eastwood.
On December 10, 2018, Clint Eastwood was photographed at the movie's Los Angeles premiere with his secret daughter, Laurie. She identified herself to photographers as 'Laurie Eastwood'. The next day, Alison Eastwood confirmed on Instagram that Laurie is her half-sister. Laurie is believed to be the Washington-born Eastwood daughter who was placed for adoption in 1954, as alleged by biographer Patrick McGilligan in the heavily suppressed book "Clint: The Life and Legend" (1999) - an allegation no media outlet would repeat at the time. It has taken Clint 64 years to acknowledge Laurie.
It is based on The New York Times article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year-Old Drug Mule" by Sam Dolnick, which recounts the true story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran in his 80s who became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel.
Alison Eastwood, who recently focused on production and directing, was surprised that her father Clint Eastwood asked her to play alongside him (she plays Iris, Earl's daughter).
For Earl, the costume designer wanted some of the wardrobe to have a worn look, so some of them were re-used from previous Clint Eastwood movies like Gran Torino (2008), True Crime (1999), and, in the case of the suit at the end, In the Line of Fire (1993).
The release of The 15:17 to Paris (2018) and this movie mark the eighth time Clint Eastwood directed two features for release in a single year. The other years were 1973, 1982, 1990, 1997, 2006, 2008 and 2014.
Marks actress Alison Eastwood's fourth film under father Clint Eastwood's direction, and the second film Michael Peña has worked on with Clint.
This was the second collaboration between Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper after American Sniper (2014).
The Nov. 3 death of Sondra Locke, Clint Eastwood's common law wife from 1975-89, was not publicized until the eve of the film's opening.
In recent years, Clint Eastwood has only rarely been on camera, but Earl convinced him to rethink the experience. His last role was in Trouble with the Curve (2012).
This was director Clint Eastwood's second collaboration with Laurence Fishburne. The first was Mystic River (2003).
Yves Bélanger's inclusion as cinematographer marked the first time Clint Eastwood did not work with Tom Stern as his cinematographer on a feature film in eighteen years. Stern worked as a gaffer on several of Eastwood's films from the 1980s into the early 2000s, before being promoted to director of photography on every scripted feature-length film by Eastwood, starting with Blood Work (2002) (Stern's first cinematography credit) to The 15:17 to Paris (2018) (Eastwood's earlier 2018 film).
One of two 2018 movies where Michael Peña played a DEAgent in connection with the Sinaloan cartel and their activities. The other was Narcos: Mexico (2018).
The deliveries of Earl lead him in several states and the film follows it in these peregrinations at the wheel of his pick-up. To shoot the exterior shots, Clint Eastwood and a small team drove Earl's two pickups, the old and the new, during a three-day road trip toward the end of filming.
Other footage has been shot elsewhere than in Atlanta, for example, in the Midwest cities' DEA offices, as well as the sites used for the home. Mary, the local veterans, the Ginny wedding reception room or a roadside motel. For the sequences in the tire shop that serves as a den of the cartel, the team traveled to New Mexico, and for the impressive property of Laton, a house was spotted in Las Cruces, and decorated to match the opulence and extravagance of the boss of the cartel.
This was the second collaboration between director Clint Eastwood and writer Nick Schenk, after Gran Torino (2008).
This was not the only time Clint Eastwood played a "mule." He also played one of a different kind in Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970).
Near the end of the film's trailer released on October 4, 2018, an excerpt from Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme by Niccolò Paganini" can be heard.
Uniquely enough, 2018 witnessed yet a younger octogenarian Robert Redford also appearing as an aging criminal in The Old Man & the Gun (2018).
The film marked the second collaboration between Laurence Fishburne and Michael Peña in 2018. They also worked together in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018).
Earl Stone drives thru a fast food restaurant named "Gunny's Burgers". Clint Eastwood played Sergeant "Gunny" in Heartbreak Ridge (1986).
Clint Eastwood slips in a reference to having been in combat, which he's habitually done in several films dating back to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). This is ironic given that Eastwood, according to the late Don Loomis and others who knew him pre-fame, allegedly used a romantic relationship with an officer's daughter to avoid being drafted into service during the Korean conflict.
The film was partially filmed in Augusta, Georgia, birthplace of co star Laurence Fishburne.
One of Earl's handlers scolds him for speaking without being asked, by saying, "Mules don't talk!". Clint Eastwood's first credited movie role was "Jonesey" in Francis in the Navy (1955), one of the "Francis the Talking Mule" movies.
The Mule is not photographed by Clint Eastwood's favorite cinematographer, Tom Stern. This is a first since Blood Work (2002), the first collaboration between the two men. Canadian Yves Bélanger takes over instead.
The film features two Academy Award winners: Clint Eastwood and Dianne Wiest; and three Academy Award nominees: Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia.
Leo Sharp, the real person on whom this movie is based, was a World War II vet. But in the movie, this was changed to him being a Korean War vet, so the story could be set in 2017.
The prospect of working for the second time with Clint Eastwood seduced Bradley Cooper.
This was the first theatrically released film for actor Loren Dean since Conviction (2010), which starred Hilary Swank, who co-starred in Million Dollar Baby (2004), which was also directed by and starred Clint Eastwood. Dean previously worked with Eastwood on Space Cowboys (2000).
Michael Peña, Laurence Fishburne, and Bradley Cooper have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The background music, in the "best pulled pork sandwich " scene, is country music star Travis Tritt singing the song "Country Club".
Michael Peña is in a very select group of actors who appeared in multiple Best Picture Oscar winners. He was featured in Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004) and the following year's Crash (2004).
Mainly shot in Georgia, several regions of which served as a living environment for Earl.
In one scene, Earl sings along with the Roger Miller song 'Dang Me', and the lyrics are, "they oughta take a rope and hang me." One of Clint Eastwood's early movies was Hang 'Em High (1968), where a mob attempts to lynch him at the beginning of the movie.
Taissa Farmiga and Alison Eastwood's real-life mothers both had them in their 40s. Alison is 23 years younger than Taissa's real-life mother, and Dianne Wiest is 17 years younger than Alison's real-life mother.
Lobo Sebastian and Clifton Collins Jr. starred together in the movie One Eight Seven (1997).