- Actor-Inspired Element: Several of the actors wrote messages on their helmets worn throughout the movie. Charlie Sheen's helmet reads, "When I die, bury me upside-down, so the world can kiss my ass", while Johnny Depp's simply reads, "Sherilyn", a tribute to Sherilyn Fenn, whom Depp was dating at the time. Mark Moses (Lieutenant Wolfe) had on his helmet a drawing of MAD magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman with the phrase "What, me worry?" and, according to Tom Berenger, this caused Oliver Stone to laugh hysterically once during filming.
- AFI's 100 Years... Series:
- Backed by the Pentagon: Averted/Defied. The military refused to have anything to do with this film.
- Banned in Vietnam and Malaysia: The former for having the American soldiers destroy a village. The latter for its excessive profanity and violence.
- California Doubling: The Philippines for Vietnam.
- Cast the Expert: Director Oliver Stone and technical adviser Dale Dye are both Vietnam veterans.
- Cast the Runner-Up: Oliver Stone wanted to cast Johnny Depp as Chris, but the studio felt he was too young and he got a smaller part. Ironically, Sheen is three years younger than Depp.
- Deleted Scene: Here, complete with an alternate ending where Barnes lives.
- Doing It for the Art: This movie was Oliver Stone's dream project.
- Enforced Method Acting: This was the first film where the actors had to go through basic training similar to the real military to get them into character and act like real soldiers. Dale Dye actually approached Oliver Stone with the idea after being unsatisfied with the depiction of soldiers in previous war films and trained them himself. The success eventually led to him becoming the go to professional for actors' boot camps.
- Fatal Method Acting: Averted. Charlie Sheen credits Keith David with saving his life during production. While shooting in an open-doored Huey gunship, the helicopter banked too hard and Sheen was thrown towards - and would have gone through - the open door. David grabbed him by the back and pulled him back in.
- In Memoriam: The film is "Dedicated to the men who fought and died in the Vietnam War".
- Orphaned Reference: Oliver Stone originally was looking for a Native American actor to play Sergeant Elias. When he failed to do so, he cast Willem Dafoe instead. Several scenes with Elias reflect Stone's original idea of the Native American spirit embodying Elias.
- Playing Against Type: Oliver Stone intentionally cast Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe against type (Berenger, who played the ruthless, sadistic Sgt. Barnes, was mostly famous at that point for playing good guys, while Dafoe, who had primarily played villains up until then, played the heroic, compassionate Sgt. Elias). The casting worked, and both men received Oscar nominations for their work.
- Star-Making Role: This is what basically launched Charlie Sheen's career, after a couple of memorable smaller roles. He lampoons his role in this movie in Hot Shots! Part Deux (along with his dad Martin Sheen for Apocalypse Now), "I loved you in Wall Street!" Keith David also found considerable success after this film, though he became more of a veteran of voice acting than screen acting.
- Throw It In!:
- During the opening credits, Big Harold falls and rolls down a hill. Forest Whitaker claims it was a real, unintentional fall.
- After Taylor takes his revenge on Sgt. Barnes, the other platoon arrives to look for survivors and someone asks Taylor if he's okay. As he does, Taylor quickly drops a grenade. The script didn't call for it, but Charlie Sheen thought his character would be suicidal at that point in the movie, and Oliver Stone liked it and kept it in the movie.
- The ending where Chris cries inside the Huey was actually real tears and Charlie Sheen was really crying in that scene.
- What Could Have Been:
- John Cusack, Kyle MacLachlan and Keanu Reeves turned down the role of Chris Taylor. Originally Charlie Sheen was turned down for the main role of Chris because it was felt he was too young for the part. His older brother Emilio Estevez was offered the part but the project fell apart due to financial problems. Two years later the project was given the go-ahead, but Estevez had already committed to other projects. Charlie Sheen again read for the part and won it.
- Stone at one point wanted Mickey Rourke for Barnes and Nick Nolte for Elias, but they both turned it down.
- Kevin Costner was offered the role of Barnes, but he turned it down, as he had a brother who served in Vietnam and didn't want to disrespect him. Thomas F. Wilson applied for the role, but lost out.
- Jeff Bridges was considered for Elias and Denzel Washington was interested. Val Kilmer auditioned for the role. According to Stone, he gave a bizarre audition where he portrayed the character as an Indian shaman. Kris Kristofferson was also considered.
- James Woods turned down a role because he couldn't face working with Stone in another jungle.
- Write What You Know: The film was heavily based on Oliver Stone's experiences in Vietnam. For example, the scene in which Chris saves a Vietnamese girl from being raped is based on an incident in which he intervened in an assault on a villager in Vietnam.
Trivia / Platoon