- California Doubling: Filmed on location in New Zealand. Mount Egmont-Taranaki doubled as Mount Fuji, as the real deal was too heavily developed with human activity.
- The Cast Show Off: Many of Samurai's actors actually practice the arts they portray.
- Doing It for the Art: Tom Cruise spent 2 years studying Japanese language and swordsmanship to prepare for this movie.
- Multiple Languages, Same Voice Actor: Ken Watanabe, Masato Harada, and Shichinosuke Nakamura reprise their respective roles as Katsumoto, Omura and the Meiji Emperor for the Japanese dubs of the home media and Fuji TV editions. Averted with Shin Koyamada as Nobutada, who was dubbed by Masahiro Asano and Takayuki Sakazume in their respective editions.
- Non-Actor Cast: Omura was played by Masato Harada, a director who's only made two acting appearances (the other was also a shady Japanese bureaucrat in a foreign-produced period piece, Fearless). He took the role after witnessing set construction at Warner Bros. studios while location scouting.
- What Could Have Been:
- Professional wrestling legend Satoru Sayama was cast in an undisclosed but important role. However, he backed down feeling that he wasn't good enough as an actor for the film, also citing schedule troubles.
- In a far scarier version of this trope, Tom Cruise was almost killed during the filming of the fog battle. The mechanical horse he was atop malfunctioned (it was supposed to move him backwards). He therefore had no chance to dodge out of the way of the sharpened steel katana that was swinging at his neck. Luckily the person doing the swinging was a Master Swordsman and stopped it. One inch from his neck.
- Word of God: Some viewers bristled with the assumption that a white American man was the eponymous "Last Samurai", but the word of god clarified that the title refers to Katsumoto and his samurai. The "samurai" in the title refers to plural samurai.
Trivia / The Last Samurai