Scenes filmed in the Imperial Valley had the mountains in the background digitally removed. Additional desert scenes were also filmed in Mexico.
According to Iván Fenyö, almost 70% of his performance was cut out. Two months before the release of the movie the director phoned Ivan and told him that the studio didn't wanted most of the lines he had in the movie. According to the actor, some of his parts was about his notices as an East-European about democracy and the Gulf War.
The original screenplay contained a more pointed political stance which Sam Mendes stripped out.
Jake Gyllenhaal's audition scene was the one where he points a rifle straight into the face of one of his comrades and has a mini-breakdown. When filming this actual scene, Gyllenhaal actually knocked out one of his own teeth when he turns the gun on himself, not to mention hugely upsetting his co-star Brian Geraghty who felt that Gyllenhaal had effectively brutalized him. This led to the later scene in the film where Swofford apologizes to Geraghty's character, a scene that wasn't in the original screenplay. The scene helped smooth over the tense relations between the two actors.
All of the sex scenes were shot the same day, leading Sam Mendes to comment, "It's so nice to have sex today after all this war and death."
Shot almost entirely in sequence.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins operated the Steadicam himself in many scenes.
Sam Mendes's first film without cinematographer Conrad L. Hall who had died in 2002.
Staff Sgt. Sykes, played by Jamie Foxx, originally had a tattoo of a panther on the back of his shaved head. Foxx sported it during his award sweeps for Ray (2004/I). The tattoo was eventually digitally removed in post-production by director Sam Mendes, because he felt it made the character too "hard core."
While listed in the credits as Swoff's sister, Jake Gyllenhaal's character refers to her as Rini, which is in fact the real name of the actress who played the sister.
The word "fuck" and its variants are used 278 times in this film (38 times with the prefix "mother").
The burning oil wells were all computer generated. The oil that appears on the soldiers' faces was a concoction made from molasses.
At the time of filming, Peter Sarsgaard was not yet Jake Gyllenhaal's brother-in-law. Sarsgaard first started dating Jake's sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, in 2002. The couple got engaged in 2006, the same year they had a daughter and were finally married in 2009.
Jake Gyllenhaal was convinced he had blown his audition, especially after several months had passed and he hadn't heard back from Sam Mendes. An impassioned message left on Mendes's voicemail swung the decision in his favor.
Jake Gyllenhaal's nosebleed during the prank branding scene was digitally added in post-production.
The first major studio production to tackle the first Gulf War.
Jake Gyllenhaal's toilet masturbation scene was the last one filmed for the movie.
The actors all went on a four day boot camp at George Air Force Base.
Filmed in the Imperial Valley in Southern California, which features conditions very similar to Iraq. Marines did use one of the local towns, Brawley, for training purposes due to similarities to Iraq.
Screenwriter 'William Broyles Jr' identified in particular with Anthony Swofford's book as a former soldier who also had a son in the armed forces.
One of the pictures on the "Wall of Shame" (just left of center) is of porn performer Kitty (VII).
The desert locations were scouted in the summer months. When filming actually began, it was in the winter after rain, so vegetation had sprung up on what was supposed to be barren land. All of this had to be removed, often digitally.
Producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick optioned Anthony Swofford's book even before it hit the streets.
Shot on 35mm film, Walter Murch then cut it on Final Cut Pro.
SPOILER: Although it's never mentioned how Troy died in the film, in the book it was revealed that he was killed in a car accident.