- Billing Displacement: Despite most of the film being carried by Matthew McConaughey and Djimon Hounsou, both actors are billed below Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins, whose roles are still important, but comparatively more limited.
- Fake American:
- Brit Nigel Hawthorne plays American president Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was actually of Dutch descent, and in fact has the distinction of being the only American president for whom English was not his first language.
- Some American actors became furious at Steven Spielberg for casting an "Englishman" (Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams, who is Welsh, not English) in the leading role of an American president.
- Several other Brits also play Americans, namely Jeremy Northam and Pete Postlethwaite.
- Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård plays Lewis Tappan.
- Fake Nationality: Other than the Fake Americans, it's evident in the actors portraying Ruiz and Montes: one is Mexican-American, the other Puerto Rican, and neither hide their accents. Also, Canadian-New Zealander Anna Paquin as Queen Isabella, and Cuban-American Tomas Milian as the Spanish Ambassador.
- One-Take Wonder: Anthony Hopkins astounded the crew by delivering the entire seven page courtroom speech in a single take. Steven Spielberg was so in awe, he couldn't bring himself to call him Tony, and insisted on addressing him as Sir Anthony throughout the shoot.
- Playing Against Type: Matthew McConaughey as an upper class dandy.
- What Could Have Been:
- Sean Connery was approached for the role of John Quincy Adams, but turned it down.
- Gabriel Byrne and John Cusack were considered for the role of Roger Sherman Baldwin.
- Denzel Washington turned down the role of Cinque, because he didn't want to play a slave. Cuba Gooding Jr. also declined, much to his regret.
Trivia / Amistad