The sex scenes between Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg upset Jagger's fellow The Rolling Stones member Keith Richards. Richards, who was Pallenberg's lover at the time, was reported to have lurked outside the set in a foul mood. Pallenberg had previously been the partner of another Stones member, Brian Jones, who, according to Alex Cox (presenter of BBC2's Moviedrome), partly inspired the character of Turner.
Most of the audience walked out of the first preview screening. The release was delayed for two years while it was re-edited three times. Editor Frank Mazzola used montage of images and time jumps which later became his trademark style.
Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg (mainly responsible for the 'look' of the film) also benefited from a lack of interference from Warner Bros. studio executives, who believed they were getting a Rolling Stones equivalent of A Hard Day's Night (1964). Instead, they delivered a dark, experimental film which included graphic depictions of violence, sex and drug use.
Director Donald Cammell arranged for James Fox to spend time with real East London gangsters to help prepare his character. David Litvinoff (credited as "dialogue coach and technical advisor", but actually pretty much "mob liaison") made sure he didn't get into any real trouble.
According to Nicolas Roeg, a Warner exec said of the scene depicting Turner in a bath with Pherber and Lucy, "Even the bath water was dirty." The response from the studio was to deny the film a cinematic release. It has been claimed that at one stage Warner Bros. wanted the negative to be destroyed.
Turner's address in the film is 81 Powis Square. Exterior shots were actually filmed at number 25 Powis Square, whilst interior shooting was done at 15 Lowndes Square, Knightsbridge, the house of Leonard Plugge. The neighbours of the latter address were paid to go on holiday for the duration of the shoot, during which time the cast lived in the house.
When trying to psych Chas out, Turner pretends he has seen his show, and asks Pherber when this was: "'67? '68? '69?" The film was initially due for release in 1968 but held up until 1970, rendering this bit of dialogue slightly pointless.