De'aundre Bonds was initially given a role in the film. On the night that he learned he was awarded the role, he attended a family celebration and was involved in an altercation with his aunt's boyfriend. The altercation ended with Bonds stabbing the man to death. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Denzel Washington's debut as a movie director.
Will Smith, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mekhi Phifer and Ja Rule expressed interest in the lead role. Denzel Washington didn't want a star and cast newcomer Derek Luke.
Denzel Washington agreed to star in the movie mainly because he knew it was the only way it would get financed.
Derek Luke was working at the Sony Studios gift shop when he met Antwone Fisher who was working on the lot as a security guard. When Fisher's screenplay was bought by Fox Searchlight, Luke asked Fisher for a copy of the script. He went to the casting director unannounced and asked to audition. He has since admitted "I was so terrible I started crying" but Luke was invited to audition again. Denzel Washington came to the gift shop to tell Luke that he got the part.