American Gangster was one of the biggest productions undertaken by Director Ridley Scott in his career. It required 360 scenes in over 180 various locations.
During the filming in Thailand, Ridley Scott hired many extras, some of who were actually involved with the real drug cartel run by Frank Lucas during the 1970s.
The Madison Square Garden scene required a lot of extras, so Director Scott had to use 650 actual extras and the rest of the audience were inflatable dummies.
Russell Crowe requested a recording of the real Richie Roberts to mimic his voice mannerisms as well.
Antoine Fuqua was supposed to helm this movie with Denzel Washington and Benicio del Toro playing the roles of Lucas and Roberts, respectively, but production was halted due to overbudget issues.
Director Scott and producer Grazer’s top choices for Richie Roberts’ character were Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt.
The film’s cast includes Oscar powerhouses. These include winners Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Common and Cuba Gooding Jr. Then there are the nominees: Ruby Dee, Josh Brolin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and John Hawkes.
The real Frank Lucas disclosed that only a small part of the movie was true, most of it was made up for melodramatic effect.
The real Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts were made consultants all throughout the filming of American Gangster.
Aside from representing Frank Lucas in real life, Richie Roberts was also the godfather of Lucas’ son.
James Gandolfini was originally set to play Detective Trupo, but he declined the role.
In Virtuosity, a sci-fi film released in 1995, Washington and Crowe had reversed roles, with the former playing a heroic policeman, while the latter was a villain.
During the initial stages of the film’s development, it had several titles including “The Return of Superfly” and “Tru Blu”.
The original choice for Richie Roberts was Ray Liotta, while Will Smith was also considered for Frank Lucas’ role.
While American Gangster is the first film collaboration of Ridley Scott and Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe has worked with Scott several times already: Robin Hood (2010), A Good Year (2006), and Gladiator (2000).
King of Rap Jay Z was invited to the film’s screening, and he was so moved by the film that he decided to make an album entitled “American Gangster” and he also used a line from Dominic Cattano’s character for his “Success” song.