On December 10, 2018, Clint Eastwood was photographed at the movie's Los Angeles premiere with his secret daughter, Laurie. She identified herself to photographers as 'Laurie Eastwood'. The next day, Alison Eastwood confirmed on Instagram that Laurie is her half-sister. Laurie is believed to be the Washington-born Eastwood daughter who was placed for adoption in 1954, as alleged by biographer Patrick McGilligan in the heavily suppressed book "Clint: The Life and Legend" (1999) - an allegation no media outlet would repeat at the time. It has taken Clint 64 years to acknowledge Laurie.
It is based on The New York Times article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year-Old Drug Mule" by Sam Dolnick, which recounts the true story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran in his 80s who became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel.
The release of The 15:17 to Paris (2018) and this movie mark the eighth time Clint Eastwood directed two features for release in a single year. The other years were 1973, 1982, 1990, 1997, 2006, 2008 and 2014.
Yves Bélanger's inclusion as cinematographer marked the first time Clint Eastwood did not work with Tom Stern as his cinematographer on a feature film in eighteen years. Stern worked as a gaffer on several of Eastwood's films from the 1980s into the early 2000s, before being promoted to director of photography on every scripted feature-length film by Eastwood, starting with Blood Work (2002) (Stern's first cinematography credit) to The 15:17 to Paris (2018) (Eastwood's earlier 2018 film).
The deliveries of Earl lead him in several states and the film follows it in these peregrinations at the wheel of his pick-up. To shoot the exterior shots, Clint Eastwood and a small team drove Earl's two pickups, the old and the new, during a three-day road trip toward the end of filming.
Other footage has been shot elsewhere than in Atlanta, for example, in the Midwest cities' DEA offices, as well as the sites used for the home. Mary, the local veterans, the Ginny wedding reception room or a roadside motel. For the sequences in the tire shop that serves as a den of the cartel, the team traveled to New Mexico, and for the impressive property of Laton, a house was spotted in Las Cruces, and decorated to match the opulence and extravagance of the boss of the cartel.
Clint Eastwood slips in a reference to having been in combat, which he's habitually done in several films dating back to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). This is ironic given that Eastwood, according to the late Don Loomis and others who knew him pre-fame, allegedly used a romantic relationship with an officer's daughter to avoid being drafted into service during the Korean conflict.
One of Earl's handlers scolds him for speaking without being asked, by saying, "Mules don't talk!". Clint Eastwood's first credited movie role was "Jonesey" in Francis in the Navy (1955), one of the "Francis the Talking Mule" movies.
In one scene, Earl sings along with the Roger Miller song 'Dang Me', and the lyrics are, "they oughta take a rope and hang me." One of Clint Eastwood's early movies was Hang 'Em High (1968), where a mob attempts to lynch him at the beginning of the movie.
Taissa Farmiga and Alison Eastwood's real-life mothers both had them in their 40s. Alison is 23 years younger than Taissa's real-life mother, and Dianne Wiest is 17 years younger than Alison's real-life mother.