- Ability over Appearance: James Ellroy describes the character of Bud White as the biggest cop on the L.A. force. Noting that he wasn't even 6 foot, Russell Crowe decided to move into an apartment so small that he had to duck to get into the doorways and could barely stand up in. Crowe said this worked in making him feel like a "giant" by the time he came to the set to shoot.
- All-Star Cast: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, and James Cromwell. In some ways a retroactive example, as it was both Crowe's and Pearce's Star-Making Role.
- Ironically since there were so many important characters the producers could not afford a huge star. At the time Danny DeVito was probably the best known actor, but has a secondary part. Kevin Spacey and James Cromwell had just hit it big with recent successful roles, but still weren't exactly household names. Kim Basinger had not been in a hit for nearly a decade and any movie period for three years. Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Simon Baker were all completely unknown (In America).
- Approval of God: James Ellroy loved the film. He described Kevin Spacey's performance as "some of the best self-loathing I've ever seen on screen".
- Billing Displacement: Kevin Spacey is listed first, though Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce's roles are more substantial in the film. This is probably an effort to establish Vincennes as a Decoy Protagonist, considering he was the most famous actor in the film. Crowe was an unknown at the time, and only later became a "name" actor. The even lesser-known Pearce, whose Exley is the main protagonist, is given third billing after Crowe and Spacey. In the cover, Pearce and Crowe are barely visible, Spacey is larger but pushed to the side, and a shot of Kim Basinger dressed in Vapor Wear takes up half the space.
- Career Resurrection: Kim Basinger's first major motion picture after a string of flops and some nasty behind-the-scene politics at the beginning of the decade put her career on ice.
- Dawson Casting: An odd example. At the time of filming Kim Basinger was in her mid-forties, while Veronica Lake, whom Lynn Bracken "portrays", was in her early thirties at the time the movie takes place. So this is either a straight example and Lynn is supposed to also be significantly younger than the actress portraying her. Or Lynn is in fact much older than Veronica Lake, but is "playing" her due to her strong resemblance. It should be noted that when she's with Bud and is just being Lynn she looks noticeably older than when she's in her Veronica Lake look.
- Inverted with Amber Smith, who plays Susan Lefferts aka: Rita Hayworth, who was 10 years younger than Hayworth would've been at the time.
- Dueling Movies: In contest with Mulholland Falls (1996).
- Fake American: Of the three lead actors, only Kevin Spacey is truly American. Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe are Aussies. In the 'Making of' featurette, the producer relates his reaction to the casting decision.You want to make a period crime film, set in Los Angeles, starring two Australians?
- Fake Irish: James Cromwell as Irish-American Dudley Smith, with a pretty decent accent.
- Method Acting: James Ellroy told Russell Crowe that Bud White didn't drink, so Crowe didn't have a drink for the entire shoot.
- Playing with Character Type: James Cromwell was cast specifically due to playing as Arthur Hoggett in Babe.
- Star-Making Role: For Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce, but especially Crowe.
- What Could Have Been:
- Twice the project was pitched to television: first, producer David L. Wolper wanted to produce the project as a mini-series, and later, it was being developed as a weekly series by HBO. A pilot that starred Kiefer Sutherland as Jack was produced, but the series was not picked up afterwards.
- Elmer Bernstein was the original composer.
- The role of Bud White was originally written with Michael Madsen in mind. Mel Gibson was also considered.
- Lorraine Bracco, Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Teri Hatcher, Anjelica Huston, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan and Rene Russo were among those who turned down the role of Lynn Bracken.
Trivia / L.A. Confidential