- Adrian Zmed, Grease 2, 1981. At 19, the unknown tiny Tom auditioned for T Bird gang member Johnny Nogorelli. Quick to rercognise talent when she saw it, choreographer-turned direcor Patricia Birch rejected him. “ I want someone older,” she said. “And taller.” Zme had played Dannu Zuko on Broadway. He was 27. Perfect for studying at Rydell High.
- Peter Barton, The Powers of Matthew Star, TV, 1982. Yes, Aurelien, there was a time when people actually said No to Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. He tested as the super-powered alien prince from the planet Quadris (oh yeah!) with Heather Locklear (also rejected). The series lasted 22 episodes; in one, Barton was badly burned. He remained in TV schlock: The Bold and The Beautiful, Loveboat, Baywatch.
- Sean Penn, Bad Boys, 1982. Those were the days... When Cruise and Kevin Bacon auditioned for the same roles.
Rob Lowe, The Outsiders, 1982. Started reading for Sodapop Curtis during intensive ensemble casting sessions at Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, Stage Five. “Francis has everyone switching parts,” Cruise told Rob Lowe, also up for greaser Sodapop Curtis.
Patrick Swayze, The Outsiders, 1982. Tom also read for Darrel. For Lowe, Cruise was “the kid from back East, staying at Martin Sheen’s house. Open, friendly, funny... a huge, toothy, wolf-like grin... and an almost robotic, bloodless focus and an intensity that I’ve never encountered before.”.
Darren Dalton, The Outsiders, 1982. In New York, Cruise tested anew for Sodapop and Randy (Dalton). Watching Tom testing for his role, worried Lowe “He’s more focused and ambitious...” Then, Cruise just stopped: “This just isnt working for me.” Coppola let him try again.
Matt Dillon, The Outsiders, 1982. Oh and he also read for Darrel again. “When he’s done, I know the Cruise missile threat has passed,” said Lowe. Coppola asked him to try, meaning do you want this part? A few weeks later, Lowe was rehearsing Soda in Tulsa just before his 18th birthday - with Cruise as his best pal, Steve. During the shoot, Cruise received a script called Risky Business…
Matt Dillon, Rumble Fish, 1983. Now Francis Coppola offered what became the title role in France - Rusty James - to a Cruise who proved more smitten with Risky Business, a definite a star-making vehicle. He wanted his Tulsa co-star, Diane Lane, to join him. But she stayed with Coppola, making both of his films from books by the 16-year-old SE Hinton.
- Kevin Bacon, Footloose, 1984. Impressed by his rock dance in Risky Business, 1983, Herbert Ross came thisclose to signing Cruise... and Madonna!
- Robby Benson, Harry and Son, 1984. "Too young," said Paul Newman after testing Tom. And later, after it flopped, Paul told him: "I saved your career, kid,"
- Tom Burlinson, Flesh + Blood, Holland-Spain-US, 1984. Poor Rebecca De Mornay got fired by by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven for continually pushing for her boyfriend to be Steven. And so, Verhoeven rejected… Tom Cruise.
- Jonathan Pryce, Brazil, 1985. Director Terry Gilliam talked to any and everyone - including Cruise and Madonna.
- Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986. And they turned him down! Also up for Ferris: Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, Michael J Fox and Eric Stolz.
- Charlie Sheen, Wall Street, 1987. Tom pushed hard. Writer-director Oliver Stone was adamant about his Platoon star, keeping Cruise in mind for his next ’Nam movie, Born on the Fourth of July.
- Michael J Fox, Bright Lights, Big City, l988. "I loved the book but I'm learning I can't just jump into something. I like to take my time and make sure I feel good about it." He also fretted about scenes of him sniffing coke (powdered milk on the set). Pity. The always improving Cruise would have been better than the eternal lightweight Fox.
- Brad Johnson, Always, 1989. Unavailable. Steven Spielberg went for a chocolate-box model. Hard on the outside, soft centre inside. Spielberg later took Cruise to 2054 AD.
- Ray Liotta, Goodfellas, 1989. Took 20 years for producer Irwin Winkler to reveal that Warner Bros was desperate to have Cruise play the mobster-narrator, Henry Hill - "As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." With Madonna as his wife. “Marty [Scorsese] wanted Ray… Frankly, I thought we could do a lot better and then, me and my wife were having dinner one night in a restaurant and lo and behold, Ray Liotta came over to me. He said: ‘Look, I know you don’t really want me for it, but...' And he sold me on the role right that evening. I called Marty the next morning."
- James Spader, Bad Influence, 1990. Kevin Costner victimising Cruise was among interesting against-type notions of producer Moshe Diamant.
- Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands, 1990.
"He was never my image of the character," admitted Tim Burton. after three meetings, one lasting close to four hours. And vice-versa as Tom wanted Ed to lose his scars and look hot by the end. Hah! No one, except Tim Burton, wanted Johnny. Some 14 years later, the suits later couldn’t get him fast enough for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory following his Pirates of the Caribbean Oscar nomination…and box-office!
- Patrick Swayze, Ghost, 1990. He joined the star chorus of the hour: Me, a ghost? Get outa here!
- David Coburn, Captain Planet and the Planteers, TV, 1990-1991. He passed the voicing of “Earth’s Greatest Champion” and it became Coburn’s fifth, longest (63 episodes) and last voice-over. David is no kin of James Coburn, who voiced Hoggish Greedly.
- Brad Pitt, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Peter Berg, A Midnight Clear, 1991. The most successful film of actor-director Keith Gordon came his way after expensive years on the A&M Films shelf. What had been too sad and complicated for a $20m movie - even with Cruise aboard - was re-tooled, independent style.
- Mark Harmon, Till There Was You, 1991. "Frankly, he isn't even good casting - too young," admitted publicist and future producer Mark Urman. "Although, they'd cast him as Yentl if they thought they could get him."
- Timothy Hutton, Prelude To A Kiss, 1991. Hardly right for Alec Baldwin’s off-Broadway role. What did that matter if he said Yes
- William Baldwin, Backdraft, 1991. Easier to recognise that this was actually the main role if Cruise had played it. Because it had room for his Nicole Kidman, he chose a Ron Howard movie - Far and Away the wrong cholce.
- Jason Patric, Rush, 1991. Kim Wozencraft's true tale of a narc turning addict became a battle of ex-partners. Richard Zanuck wanted Tom - except David Brown, had nabbed him for A Few Good Men. Again, Cruise was anti-drug taking scenes. And waiting to hear about...
- Val Kilmer, The Doors, 1991. Tom had been among many Jim Morrison wannabes as the project went through numerous Hollywood hands across 20 years.
- GaryOldman, JFK, 1991.
- Val Kilmer, Thunderheart, 1992. "I never went to anyone else but Val," UK director Michael Apted told me in Deauville. "But when you're trying to cast an American studio movie with a 30-year-old American lead, you think of Tom Cruise, first. That's predictable. And we're all predictable! I rang his agent... but he had something else to do. She may have even looked at the script, I don't know."
- Woody Harrelson, Indecent Proposal, 1993. Involved for all of a minute when Warren Beatty was set as the gambler paying $1m to sleep with his wife - the then real Mrs Cruise, Nicole Kidman. Tom denied that he quit because the role was against his Scientology beliefs. More like because he and Nic had no chemistry on-screen. As poor Stanley Kubrick would discover,.. trouble is Kubrick had his Eyes Wide Shut.
- Clint Eastwood, In the Line of Fire, 1992.
He may not even know it, but as the script hung around Hollywood for a decade, Disney wanted to make it with him. "Yeah, with Tom Cruise as the ageing Secret Serviceman," German director Wolfgang Petersen revealed to me with a hearty laugh in Deauville, France. "His age is no problem," Disney executives told screenwriter Jeff Maguire. “Just re-write it younger!” "But," spluttered the astonished writer, "what about the Kennedy assassination back-story - Tomwould have been a babe in arms back then." "Oh," said the Mouseketeers, "lose all that. We don't need any Kennedy story." Maguire made his excuses and left - despite the electricity company threatening to cut him off for non-payment of bills.
- Emilio Esevez, Judgment Night, US-Japan,1993. Hardly an A List movie. So, Christian Slater also passed. As did so many others that Lionsgate got worried and desperate. Good news for Emilio - winning a higher salary than usual. He also arrived complete with a favourite line from his 1986 Stakeout: “Lucy, I’m home, you’ve got some explaining to do.”
- Richard Gere, Sommersby, 1993. Once Warners heard of Cruise's interest, thestudio became extremely keen about the re-make, according to producer Arnon Milchan (who nearly made the original Return of Martin Guerre with De Niro and Scorsese).
- Christian Slater, Untamed Heart, 1993. "Certain things Tom Cruise had passed on, I think are brilliant," comments Slater.
- Chris O'Donnell, The Three Musketeers, 1993. Tom was ready to be D'Artagnanfor Disney if John McTiernan directed. John didn't. Tom didn't.
- Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993. Die Hard On A Bus! The studio wanted someone with more clout than Reeves as the hero of Bus 2525 - the one with a bomb aboard! Cruise was in the Jack mix, alongside brothers Billy and Stephen Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks(!), Michael Keaton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and, of course, Die Hard star Bruce Willis. The 1996 sequel was called Speed: Cruise Control.
- Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993. Producer-director Rob Reiner offered $2.5m for Frank Darabont's script - with Cruise and Harrison Ford as the cell-mates. Darabont fancied the money but knew this was the movie he had to direct, himself. Also in the frame (up) for Stephen King’s prisoner #37927, were: Jeff Bridges, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen. And t’other Tom - Hanks.
- Tim Robbins, The Hudsucker Proxy, 1993. The battle was over who should be the the naive business graduate Norville Barnes. Producer Joel Silver wanted Tom. The Coen brothers wanted Tim.
- Brad Pitt, Legends of the Fall, 1994. Instead of Sean Connery-Cruise, novelist Jim Harrison’s father-son became Anthony Hopkins-Pitt.
- Brad Pitt, Interview With The Vampire, 1994.
- Terminal Velocity, 1994. Cruise and (Costner’s director pal) Kevin Reynolds parachuted out of the sky-diving saga - succeeded by Sheen and Dean Sarafian.
- Linden Ashby, Mortal Kombat, 1994. Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon, was set forJohnny Cage in the $20m debut of the franchise based on the video game, when he was accidentally shot dead during The Crow, 1993. Next contenders - Cruise, Johnny Depp, Plus Gary Daniels, Jean-Claude Van Damme (how’d they get in there?) They were all bypassed by the Floridian surfer and martial arts champ.
- John Cusack, City Hall, 1995. Harold Becker had directed Mrs Cruise in Malice. This allowed him time with Tom about being Al Pacino's deputy mayor dropping his boss in a criminal investigation.
- Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island, 1995. Once Michael Douglas jumped pirate ship, Finnish director Renny Harlin searched high-and-low for a shipmate for his wife Geena Davis. Tom, Keanu Reeves, Liam Neeson all refused. Never make a film when the director is wed to - or involved with - the leading lady!
- Greg Kinnear, Sabrina, 1995. Replaced by a TV talk show host! Could there be anything worse! The Firm team wanted Cruise back - mission impossible as he was running the M:I squad in Europe. Besides, he gets top - and solo - billing, right? Sydney Pollack saw Kinnear on his NBC's Later talk-show. "I was so desperate - he was smart and had a lot of charm." Even before the bad casting, director Sydney Pollack's totally unnecessary re-make was a gross error of judgement. He didn’t find the right girl - nor the right David Larrabee. And Harrison Ford never looked happy as David’s brother, Linus.
- David Caruso, Jade, 1995. "Misguided efforts," as scenarist Joe Eszterhas called them, led a re-write aimed at Cruise and Julia Roberts. By which time, the scenarist realised that director William Friedkin lied about never changing a comma of the script. A major malpaso for Caruso, back to TV seven years later.
- Val Kilmer, The Ghost and The Darkness, 1996. Writer William Goldman was shaken when Kevin Costner said: Yes. And Paramount said: Fine, but we have a special relationship with Cruise. Not special enough. He said no. Six months after being asked.
- Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Michael Collins, 1996. Refused to cameo as Collins' killer - even for his Interview With The Vampire maker, Neil Jordan.
- Johnny Depp, Donnie Brasco, 1996. As shooting was delayed by the late release of another Mafia movie, Goodfellas, Tom had to leave the autobiography of Joe Pistone (aka Brasco), an FBI agent infiltrating The Mob.
- Antonio Banderas, Zorro, 1996. Steven Spielberg tried setting Cruise up with director Mikael Solomon long before Bondsmith Martin Campbell made it.
- George Clooney, One Fine Day, 1996. New star rises. "A roguish charm coupled with a really remarkable comic ability," said helmer Michael Hoffman.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic, 1997.
- Will Smith, Enemy of the State, 1998. Reunion with his Days of Thunder maker was stymied by Kubrick's everlasting Eyes Wide Shut in London. Will was less interested in picking up Tom's leavings than working with Gene Hackman.
- Bill Paxton, A Bright Shining Lie, TV, 1998. US Army officer fighting the Vietnam war - and fighting against it.
- Bill Paxton, A Simple Plan, 1998. Director Mike Nichols optioned Scott Smith's novel noir for Tom - as Mr Ordinary coming across a cache of stolen loot. Next stop: Nic Cage, John Cusack. Finally, Paxton was helmed by Sam Raimi.
- Billy Crudup, Without Limits, 1998. Tom loved Robert Towne's take and wanted to act the inconoclastic life and early car-crash death of the 1972 Olympics' track star Steve Prefontaine. "I'm too old... I just honestly don't think that an audience will accept me as 16." So he produced it and held it back to avoid a needless battle with a Disney version.
- Nicolas Cage, Snake Eyes, 1998. As De Palma's budget went north of $70m, the studio handed him a list - . including Tom, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson.
- Keanu Reeves, The Matrix, 1998. Of course, they asked him... But he had his own franchise - and the first two Mission: Impossibles netted him a guesstimated $145m. Also in the loop for the neo-noir Neo: Nicolas Cage (family commitments), Johnny Depp (the Wachowski siblings’ first choice), Leonardo DiCaprio (special effects issues), Val Kilmer (simply passed), Ewan McGregor (shooting Star Wars: Episode 1), Lou Diamond Phillips (his agent said: instant flop), Brad Pitt (Warner’s first choice, Reeves was second) and Will Smith - "I would have messed it up."
- Matthew Broderick, Election, 1999.
What makes Samantha Run! Tom had (too) often played his own riff on What Makes Sammy Run. (The novelist Budd Schulberg tried to set up a Sammy movie with Cruise in the 80s but no Hollywood studio would ever touch it - far too close to home!). Now, Paramount wanted his box-office reliability for the older figure, reporting the rise of Sammy Glick - er, Tracy Flick. “A terrible casting experience,” recalled director Alexander Payne. “You're a prisoner of whoever happens to be the most famous person of the right age during that six-month window. And if you want to try to reach into the past or the future beyond that six-month window, it's very difficult. So even as a young director, for a little $8m movie like Election, the casting hoops I had to jump through were very dispiriting... That's a game I'm increasingly uninterested in." (Unless the famous is perfect, like Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt).
- Matt Damon, The Talented Mr Ripley, 1999. UK director Anthony Minghella wanted Cruise - and again for Cold Mountain - and changed his mind on seeing Good Will Hunting, 1997. Damon shed 30 lbs, learned the piano and sung “My Funny Valentine” for his supper as Patricia Highsmith’s anti-hero, Tom, Ripley.
- George Clooney, Three Kings, 1999. Originally intended for Eastwood (well, it was a Gulf War riff on Kelly's Heroes) until director David O Russell wrote it younger. Nic Cage and Cruise came close to signing.
- Will Smith, Wild Wild West, 1999. Cruise and Mel Gibson simply bolted… Everybody making - or wasting good money to watch - the lame-brained Western, hated it. Smith gave up The Matrix to succeed TV’s Robert Conrad and later found the grace to publicly apologise to Conrad for such a diabolical mish-mash.
- Billy Crudup, Waking The Dead, 1999. Cruise and Keith Gordon Part II. (Well, the same again). “We like this,” said the suits, “but take all the politics out and put a happy ending on it?” “Frankly, no,” said director Gordon. He’d fallen for the book in ’91, scripted it in ’92, and had made A Midnight Clear, 1991, and Mother Night, 1996, before author Scott Spencer gave it to him - “free of charge” - and Jodie Foster helped produce it. Polygram suggested Cruise. “He’d actually be good... We sent it to him. I heard he liked it, but he never said yes, he just said maybe, which after about six months became clear that was as far as it was going to go.” Two years earlier, Crudup had been chosen by Cruise to replace him in his production of the Steve Prefontaine story, Without Limits, 1997.
- Chris Klein, Rollerball, 2001. According to MGM, Tom did not want to do another actioner so soon after second M:I caper.
- Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind, 2001. As Ron Howard beat Robert Redford to the director's chair, Cruise was keen on being the schizophrenic Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash - “I’m quite well balanced, I have a chip on both shoulders.” Then, Kubrick called about Eyes Wide Shut... Crowe won a second consecutive Oscar nod.
- Stuart Townsend, Queen of the Damned, 2001. Cruise was (obviously) asked to reprise Lestat from Interview With A Vampire. But, er... not with that title!
- Brendan Fraser, The Quiet American, 2001. Cruise showed great interest but director Philip Noyce turned him down for the titular rôle from Graham Greene’s prophetic novel about Vietnam - shockingly homogenised by Joseph L Maniewicz (of all people!) in the 50s. Noyce’s Michael Caine was fine as the UK journo but Fraser was as weak as 1957’s Audie Murphy.
- Sam Rockwell, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, 2002. George Clooney, the new star rising of 1996, was now a (brilliant) debuting director.
- Eric Bana, Hulk, 2003. Yeah, yeah, sure we know... Hey, we'll offer it, anyway... Director Ang Lee first played the Hulk himself, using the performance-capture process. During the mid-1990s, Depp was first choice for the green guy. Next candidates were Steve Buscemi, Billy Crudup, David Duchovny, Jeff Goldblum and Edward Norton before (because of Chopper), Bana became Bruce Banner. So did Norton in the 2007 version. (No better).
- Jude Law, Cold Mountain, 2003
Miramax co-chief, Harvey Weinstein, toned down his usual bullying and agreed to Tom’s usual hefty rent: $20-25m against 20% of first-dollar gross. That made the budget hit $100m. Weinstein offered this and that and finally a third of the movie and no fee. “There’s been too much negotiating here,” Cruise told co-producer Sydney Pollack, “I don’t trust this. I don’t want to do this.” And didn’t... Fortunately for Nicole Kidman, who would have backed out if her ex had co-starred. “We did not want a movie about on-screen coupling that doesn’t work,” said she. “I certainly wouldn’t put myself through it again.” Their eleven-year marriage had crumbled in 2001. ” I felt it was my job... to be seen and not heard,” she revealed in 2008.
- Aaron Eckhart, Suspect Zero, 2003. In the 90s, Cruise, Ben Affleck and Sylvester Stallone were all keen on playing the disgraced Dallas FBI Agent. Cruise joined uop as ione of the producers - the one without any credit.
- Colin Farrell, Alexander, 2003. When writer-director Oliver Stone first planned the epic, it was for Cruise, with Sean Connery as his father. Farrell had to audition - he’d become a bad boy - “150 pages of gut wrenching stuff - most of which he cut. Oliver is still working on it – on a fifth version. It’s a period that fascinates him.” So Col got to wear the blond wig, “my Doris Day number.”
- Will Smith, I, Robot, 2004 . Before Schwarzenegger got interested in 1996. And, later, Clooney.
- Steve Martin, The Pink Panther, 2004. As Inspector Clouseau!!!. Now that's just plain dumb. Mike Myers also refused, letting it become Martin's fifth re-make in 13 years. Only released - more like escaped - in 2006.
- Kevin Spacey, Beyond The Sea, 2004. As the Bobby Darin biopic took 17 years, six scripters, 20 producers and directors as varied as Barry Levinson and Paul Schrader... one script hit the Cruise doormat. As most scripts do. Spacey, Darin's biggest fan, made it his own: actor, auteur, singer!
- Ryan Gosling, The Notebook, 2004. Steven Spielberg and Tom were once due to film the Nicholas Sparks book - "a love story with very few characters and not one explosion which I find very appealing," said the new helmer, Martin Campbell, best known for 007 and Zorro.
- Cole Hauser, Paparazzi, 2004. As the movie star wreaking revenge on four paparazzi. Produced by Mel Gibson.
- Brandon Routh, Superman Returns, 2005.
- Josh Hartnett, The Black Dahlia, 2005. At Paramount, the idea was David Fincher directing a three-hour black-white movie (to match the 1946 setting) with Cruise as the boxer-turned-cop Dwight “Bucky” Bleichert. Never happened. Universal treated James Ellroy’s book with less respect - Brian De Palma directing Hartnett. Owch!
- Colin Farrell, Miami Vice, 2005. After co-starring in Minority Report, Cruise apparently elbowed Farrell out of Michael Mann’s Collateral. Mann got his own way this time, booking the busy Irishman (and opposite the Collateral co-star,Jamie Foxx) for the overly serious (’twas written for Tom) movie of the 1984-1990 TV series. Matthew McConnaughey and Brad Pitt were also up for Detective Sonny Crockett but the original, Don Johnson, had already nominated Farrell…who “can’t remember a frame of it. A lot of it’s hazy… it really is, man.”
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed, 2006. Brad Pitt helped produce this one - finally winning Martin Scorsese's directing Oscar. Brad had aimed to re-make the Hong Kong thriller, Infernal Affairs, 2002, with himself and Cruise as the good and bad cops.. Scorsese chose DiCaprio and Matt Damon and also won the 2007 Best Picture Oscar. When did Cruise produce one of those!
- Michael C Hall, Dexter, TV, 2006-2014 The Showtime cable network shortlisted 14 stars, from the impossible (Cruise, Dan Aykruyd, Macauley Culkin, Sean Penn, Ben Stiller) to the plausible (John Cusack, Jake Gyllenhaal, James Spader) for the MIami Metro PD bloodstain pattern analyst moonlighting as a serial killer... of serial killers.
- Jake Gyllenhaal, Zodiac, 2006. Director David Fincher gave the studio the same advice he used three years later on The Social Network: “You gotta have 20- to 25-year-old kids. You have to give me free rein to find the best people for these parts.” He got his way on the Facebook movie. But on Zodiac - “ I got the list and it’s Russell Crowe
and Tom Cruise.”
- Adam Sandler, Reign Over Me, 2006. Cruise or... Sandler?! Detroit-born auteur Mike Binder penned the film for Cruise (don’t they all?). Having picked up what Cruise threw away, Sandler quit - and returned - for the same reason. He was terrified about playing a man who lost everything... on 9/11.
- Russell Crowe, 3.10 To Yuma, 2006. Cruise simply changed his mind about re-treading Glenn Ford’s 1956 Western bad guy. Neither version had the power of Elmore Leonard’s short story.
- Adrien Brody, The Brothers Bloom, 2007. Spent three hours with auteur Rian Johnson, discussing the script and offering valuable suggestions before deciding not to be one of the con-men brothers opposite Rachel Weisz and Mark Ruffalo as t’other Bloom.
- Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man, 2007. Difficult to believe but Cruise was even more keen on the Marvel superhero than Nicolas Cage! As the project stayed stalled, Cruise tried to ignite it anew with Stan Lee in 1999. During some 17 years on the back burner, with various studios and directors (Stuart Gordon to Quentin Tarantino), Nic Cage, Hugh Jackman, Timothy Olyphant, Clive Owen and Sam Rockwell were also run up Marvel’s flagpole. Downey saw the challenge as making a hero out of “a wealthy, establishmentarian, weapons-manufacturing, hard-drinking, womanising prick” - based by Marvel’s Stan Lee on Howard Hughes.
- Matthew McConaughey, Fool’s Gold, 2007. Tiny Tom was momentarily musing on deep-sea treasure-hunter Benjamin Finnegan when Robert Redford invited him to join Meryl Streep in Lions For Lambs.
- Will Smith,I Am Legend, 2007. During the 30-yearhistory of Warners and the Richard Matheson sf novel (two films - one Italian - ten directors), potentials for the last man on earth also included Nicolas Cage, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson , Ted Levine, Kurt Russell, even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Smith had nearly made the movie in 2002 with flash-bang-wallop helmer Michael Bay. Instead they played safe and flash-banged...well, no, they damp-squibed Bad Boys II.
- Jason Statham, Death Race, 2008. Cruise couldn’t get a decent script - as producer or as star. So his companysimply producedthe re-make - with the 1975 film’s boss,Roger Corman.
- Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008. Directors from Ron Howard (with Travolta) to Spike Jonze came and went. Steven Spielberg considered Cruise as a man aging backward toward infancy. This was F Scott Fitzgerald’s take on the Mark Twain comment: “Life would be infinitely happier if only we could be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18.” The 21st Century version was produced by ex-Spielberg producers: Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.
- Matthew Goode, Watchmen, 2008. Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who them playeth? And in the 20 years it took for Alan Moore’s DComic-book to be filmed, directors came and went - Darren Aronofsky, Michael Bay, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Paul Greengrass. So did their choices for Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias: Cruise, Jude Law and Lee Pace.
- Josh Brolin, Milk, 2008. Cruise agreed to play Dan White, cop, firefighter and Vietnam vet, who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 -the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. Director Gus Van Santthought having Cruise and Sean Penn aboard would help diffuse problems with homophopboc Money Men.
- Angelina Jolie, Salt, 2009. Or Edwin A Salt when Cruise was attached - for a lengthy period before jumping ship. Too close to his Mission: Impossible hero, Ethan Hunt. Sony Pictures suit Amy Pascal made “what at first seemed the outrageous suggestion” about Angelina. “Didn’t take long to figure out that was an inspired idea,” said Australian director Philip Noyce. “All the relationships and encounters were going to be richer if the character were a woman and that woman was Angelina Jolie, bringing her extreme athleticism and her acute dramatist's skill as an actress.” Consequently, the CIA officer on the run when accused of being a Russian sleeper sis no long longer Edwin but Evelyn - and she buried the very Ethan Huntish flop that Tom stupidly made instead, Knight & Day.
- Johnny Depp, The Tourist, 2010.
Once Tommy got interested in the Hollywood re-make (aka ruination) of the neat little French thriller, Anthony Zimmer, 2004. He quit after wasting a year ordering more action - and getting it... but in Knight and Day. Ironically, Angelina Jolie won one lead - not the guy, this time, as happened when she took over Tom’s Salt. The (Hitchcockian) guy here was Johnny Depp. The re-hash still s(t)unk. As Los Angeles movie expert, Nic Crawley, said of the US public: “They don’t want Johnny doing normal.” (Nor Tom).
- Casey Affleck, The Killer Inside Me, 2009. Cruise changed his mind about being the mild-spoken, intellectual psychopath Lou Ford - director Andrew Dominik also quit. He felt a big star was necessary for Jim Thompson’s complex and disturbing novel. Michael Winterbottom (and Affleck) proved otherwise as Dominik moved on to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with,by sheer happenstance,Casey Affleck!
- Taylor Kitsch, John Carter, 2010. Seventeen years earlier, even after the flop of Disney’s Rocketeer and Tom’s Legend fantasy, director John McTiernan and a mere $60m budget won Tom (Cruise or Hanks opposite Julia Roberts) for what Disney’s version of Princess of Mars - first of Tarzan’s daddy, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ eleven books about a Civil War veteran rediscovering his humanity when dealing with warring races on planet Barsoom... Burroughs’s name for Mars in 1911. Aka Disneyls biggest flop!
- Kevin Spacey, Horrible Bosses, 2010. Jeff Bridges, Dustin Hoffman and Philip Seymour Hoffman were suggested for the supercilious sadist Dave Harken - one of three bosses from hell, targets of a hit man hired by disgruntled employees in this masculine take on Nine To Five.
- Idris Elba, Pacific Rim, 2011. Change of Stacker Pentecost in a kind of War of the Worlds II - alien attack versus human-operated giant robots when his UK series, Luther, increased Hollywood interest in Dris - Thor, Prometheus, Django Unchained. He preferred the role first developed for Cruise in a kind of War of the Worlds II - alien attack versus human-operated giant robots.
- Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables, 2011. Oh, Hollywood… Since the musical’s 1985 London opening, suggestions for Jean Valjean went from the logical - Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline - to the absurd: Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Christopher Walken. Plus close pals, rarely rivals, Beatty and Jack Nicholson. However, tiny Tom, Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino were far too short for the hefty hero who, famously, has to carry Cosette’s lover away from the battle of the barricades. Or put it another way… Hollywood’s last Valjean had been Liam Neeson - 6ft. 4in.
- George Clooney, Gravity, 2012. Cruise doesn’t do space-walk-ons. He had his own science fiction projects: Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report and War of the Worlds, to be followed by Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow And wasn’t the Mission: Impossible franchise sci-fi as well. When Robert Downey Jr ejected from the science fiction marvel (“technology and Robert are incompatible, ” explained Alfonso Cuaron), the Mexican auteur talked “with a bunch of people” for astronaut Matt Kowalski - Cruise, Kevin Costner, Daniel Craig, Russell Crowe, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks (he loves astronauts, right?), John Travolta, Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis. Most backed off, annoyed that the woman astronaut, Sandra Bullock, had most of the film entirely to herself. “More like 2001 than an action film,” said a delighted Clooney.
- Henry Cavill, The Man From UNCLE, 2013. After securing the 60s’ TV series rights in 1993, producer John Davis went through 20 years, 14 scripts, four directors (letting slip Soderbergh and Tarantino!), plus 19 Napoleon Solos. From George Clooney in 2010 (no way, bad back) to Cruise three years later (too busy prepping how to hang off the side of an Airbus A400 in his fifth Mission: Impossible). By way of the early-21st century suspects: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Joel Kinnaman, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, Alexander Skarsgård (he switched to Tarzan), Channing Tatum. Even Russell Crowe, surely a better bet at 50 for old Waverly, the UNCLE boss. Poor Davis never got it right!
- Samuel L Jackson, Secret Service, 2013. Hey, Tom, howda like to be the villain for once? Not this time…The not-007-but… thriller was directed by Matthew Vaughn, whose 2003 choice of Daniel Craig for Layer Cake - “My name? If you knew that, you'd be as clever as me” - became the sixth James Bond.
- Denzel Washington, The Magnificent Seven, 2015. When tiny Tom changed his mind, Washington was the instant replacement for the Western re-make. His Training Day and The Equaliser director, Antoine Fuqua, was delighted. “Denzel’s all about the work… all about the acting. He’s an actor. He’ll tell you himself, ‘I’m not a movie star, celebrity, something else, I’m an actor.’ He steps on a set that’s what he is and that’s what he gives you. He gives his heart.”
- Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs, 2015. Despite being far too short, scenarist Aaron Sorkin wanted Cruise to be the Apple visionary. They had worked together as far back as the 1991 version of Sorkin’s Broadway play, A Few Good Men. Where height was no problem.