The film was originally planned as a big budgeted blockbuster star vehicle for Hugh Jackman directed by Neil Marshall before both abandoned the project.
Christina Hendricks wasn't the first choice for Blanche. Refn had originally sought to cast porn actresses to give the part a bit of Reality Subtext but couldn't find any with good enough acting skills and cast Hendricks in the part when his wife suggested her. Although hints of the intended Reality Subtext can be found in other parts in the movie; porn actress Andy San Dimas plays one of the strippers in Cook's lap-dance club.
Irene was written as a Hispanic character (in the source novel, her name was "Irina").