According to the script, Eve (Tilda Swinton) is two thousand years old, and was the Druid matriarch of a Celtic tribe. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is five hundred to six hundred years old. Writer and Director Jim Jarmusch decided that Adam and Eve would be aware of each other's true age, so he argued they have no reason to state it in this movie, but simply informed the cast members of the age of the characters. In an extended version of the nude scene, shown in the DVD special features, Adam and Eve do talk about her Druidic connections.
The white dwarf Eve (Tilda Swinton) mentions to Adam (Tom Hiddleston) while driving across the city is the star called BPM 37093, also known as Lucy (named after The Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds). Its nucleus is cooling down, which makes its core pulsate like a giant gong.
Contrary to most viewers' assumption, Writer and Director Jim Jarmusch did not name the two main characters directly after Adam and Eve from the Bible. Rather, he was referring to Mark Twain's satirical work "The Diaries of Adam and Eve", which has rarely been published in its complete form. Jarmusch told a Hollywood Reporter interviewer that "It wasn't until shooting the film, that I realized everyone's first impression will be the Biblical reference. Whoops. It's too late now. What can I do?" Twain's is one of the faces visible on Adam's wall of framed portraits in the movie.
Christopher "Kit" Marlowe (Sir John Hurt) mentions writing Hamlet, and ghostwriting for William Shakespeare to have an outlet for his work. The real Marlowe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of twenty-nine, a few weeks before the publication of Shakespeare's first known play. The Marloweian theory, which is considered fringe by a vast majority of scholars, suggests that he faked his death, and adopted the nom de plume "William Shakespeare".
Eve (Tilda Swinton) books a flight for Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and her under the names "Daisy Buchanan" and "Stephen Dedalus", main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", respectively. Stephen Dedalus also appeared as the sidekick in Joyce's "Ulysses". In Joyce's final novel "Finnegans Wake", there is a famous recurring poem with the line "riverrun past Eve and Adam".
There's a bar in Delray, Michigan, where they filmed some outside shots. The bar was called "Ideal", and had been closed since 1986. The old man who owned the bar had to purchase the house next door, in order to have access to the cement stairway between the buildings, to get to the outside basement level of the bar. The old man told everyone on the cast and crew who would listen how it took him so long to purchase the bar, and to talk the old lady who owned the house into selling to him, although he didn't want the house (he only wanted the cement staircase that led to the basement level). Shortly after filming at the bar (which took place in late July 2012), the old man torched the house next door for the insurance money.
Although Jim Jarmusch wanted to shoot this movie on film, and has a general distaste for digital cinematography, he had to use the Arri Alexa for budgetary reasons. He managed to work with low lighting and specific lenses in order to come up with a look he found acceptable enough to work for him.
This movie shares its title with a 1964 Dave Wallis science fiction novel, which was considered as a movie project for The Rolling Stones, and would have been directed by Nicholas Ray, who mentored Jim Jarmusch in the 1970s, when he was a graduate student at New York University.
The bar where White Hills plays is on Jefferson Avenue, just southwest of Dearborn Street in Delray, one of the most devastated areas of Detroit, Michigan. It was a functioning bar called "Ideal" until 1986 when it closed. It was built in Art Deco style. The Zug Island steel mill can be seen behind the bar to the right, in the exterior shot.
Wanda Jackson's "Funnel of Love" at the beginning of this movie was played considerably slower than normal. Besides giving the song an eerie sound, it perhaps suggests the characters are living slower lives. It is a cover by Jarmusch's band sqürl.
When Adam (Tom Hiddleston) leaves Dr. Watson's (Jeffrey Wright's) office, Watson says Adam must be from Cleveland. Writer and Director Jim Jarmusch was born in Akron, forty miles (sixty-four kilometers) from Cleveland.
Byron and Percy Shelley are mentioned as former companions of the vampire Adam. In Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990), Sir John Hurt played a scientist who goes back in time and meets both poets, as well as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and his Creature.
The line "feel free to piss in the garden" may be a reference to a line from Michael Ondaatje's novel "Coming Through Slaughter", which is similarly about a tortured musician and a favorite of Writer and Director Jim Jarmusch.
Tom Hiddleston (Adam) and Tilda Swinton (Eve) went to school with a member of the Royal family: Tom attended Eton College in Berkshire with Prince William, while Tilda attended West Heath Girls' School in Kent with Princess Diana. Also, Tom's cousin is Tamara Vestey, who famously was linked romantically to Prince William back in the late 90s. Tamara's father (and another cousin of Tom's) is also a close friend of Prince Charles, and is also Prince Harry's godfather.
This movie's two main settings, Delray and Tangier, are cities that lie on the edge of another country, separated only by a narrow body of water. Delray, Michigan is in the U.S. and right next to Canada (across the Detroit River), while Tangier, Morocco and right next to Spain (across the Strait of Gibraltar).
Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton would both go on to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom as Loki in Thor and Tilda as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange. Both would then go to play these respective characters in Avengers: Endgame (2019) but share no scenes or lines together.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Christopher "Kit" Marlowe (Sir John Hurt) and Ian (Anton Yelchin) are the only main characters to die. Coincidentally, their respective actors, Sir John Hurt and Anton Yelchin were the first, and as of 2017, the only cast members to die. Hurt died of cancer on January 25, 2017, and Yelchin died in a freak vehicle accident on June 19, 2016.