- Doing It for the Art: Bruce Willis wasn't paid for the movie. His salary would have nearly doubled the film's budget, and he wanted to work with Terry Gilliam badly enough that he opted for a cut of the box office receipts instead.
- Dueling-Stars Movie: Bruce Willis vs. Brad Pitt. This might be more of a retroactive example, as Pitt (while having found recent acknowledgements for his roles in Interview with the Vampire and Se7en ), wasn't nearly as big a star as Bruce "Die Hard" Willis at the time of the film's release.
- Enforced Method Acting: Brad Pitt's nervous and rapid speech was aided by Terry Gilliam not letting him smoke during shooting.
- Executive Meddling: Averted. Universal gave Gilliam final cut hoping to avoid what happened with Brazil.
- Playing Against Type: Along with Se7en, one of the movies that helped Brad Pitt break out of pure pretty-boy type-casting. Also, Bruce Willis's character is notably more frail than what he usually plays. This was the first movie where he dies.
- What Could Have Been: Terry Gilliam's initial casting choices were Nick Nolte as James Cole and Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey Goines, but Universal objected.