Tom Cruise


  1. 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 director 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Sean Penn, Bad Boys, 1982.      Those were the days…  When Cruise and Kevin Bacon auditioned for the same roles. When Tom first made it, he looked not unlike Jack Nicholson in high school.   Cruise admired Penn enormously. He admitted to his  Risky  Business  co-star Curtis Armstrong that he was intimidated by Sean’s talent and even then, in 1982, believed him to be the greatest actor of his generation
  4. Matt Dillon, Rumble Fish, 1982.       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.

  5. Matt Dillon, The Outsiders, 1982.    Part of Francis Coppola’s intensive ensemble casting sessions at Stage Five of his Zoetrope Studios – “go right on Marlon Brando Way. Follow it to Budd Schulberg Avenue and it’s just next to the commissary.”  Dillon became Dallas Winston.  
  6. Rob Lowe, The Outsiders, 1982. Coppola would switch 30 young actors around from this role to that, back to this and then into a whole other one… Lowe became Sodapop Curtis. 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.”  
  7. 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 isn’t working for me.” And that’s how the unknown from Wyoming became Randy Anderson.
  8. Patrick Swayze, The Outsiders, 1982.   …and how Swayze became the film’s oldest teenager, Darrel Curtis  –  at age 29, While Cruise was given Steve Randle to play with. Being up for four different roles in one film would never happen again as his his next script to arrive was… Risky Business.


  9. Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid, 1983.    The surprise hit had been  aimed at Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Jon Cryer, Robert Downey Jr, Kyle Eastwood, Anthony Edwards, Crispin Glover, Sean Penn,   Eric Stoltz, brothers Emilio Esteves and Charlie Sheen and the Initialers  Michael J Fox, C Thomas Howell,  D B Sweeney. At 22, looking 16, Macchio made  Daniel LaRusso (ex-Weber) his own in four  films and two video-games… and named his son Daniel.  The Character is claimed by many but  was based on the early life of scenarist Robert Mark Kamen. It’s a great coming-of-age story,” said Macchio.  And 40 years later, and people still stop him in the street  to quote  dialogue at him.

  10. Tim Robbins,The Shawshank Redemption, 1993.  Charlie Sheen basically offered to make it for free! But Jeff Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner (drowning in Waterworld), Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks (busy Forrest Gumping) were in the loop for clever Andy Dufresne – the jailed banker once handled the finances of Kurt Dussander, according to Apt Pupil, another of the filmed short stories from Stephen King’s 1982 collectiopn, Different Seasons.  The title baffled the public (until smashed DVD records). It had been Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and director Frank Darabont was swamped by agents touting their glamour pusses to play Rita… in the 43rd of King’s staggering 313 screen credits.
  11. 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.
  12. Robby Benson, Harry & Son, 1983.   LA lawyer Ronald Buck tried to interest Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, Jason Robards and Telly Savalas in his script about a widowed, blue collar father and his ”bookish, sensitive” son.  They all passed.  Because of his wife, Paul Newman got involved as director, then actor, as well (although the double chore, he said, was like putting a gun in his mouth).  Cruise lost the Son to Benson. Film flopped and Newman later told Tom: “I saved your career, kid.”When they made The Colour of Moneyin 1986, Cruise called him Gramps.
  13. Jeff Bridges, Starman, 1984.     “I met with Tom Cruise,” revcaled auteur John Carpenter. “He was very charming… But he had to make Ridley Scott’s Legend.   We would have had to wait a year. I woud have made the movie with him. I had no problem with that. He was good. He was this kinda young kid from Louisville.”
  14. Kevin  Bacon, Footloose, 1984.      Impressed by his rock dance in Risky Business, 1983, Herbert Ross came thisclose to signing Cruise… and  Madonna!
  15. 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. 
  16. Jonathan Pryce, Brazil, 1985.      Director Terry Gilliam talked to any and everyone – including  Cruise and Madonna.  Say what?! Yeah, Tom was up for  (a younger) Sam Lowry – but Tom would not test. AuteurTerry Gilliam first wrote Sam  as a twentysomething for Pryce, then up-aged it to match his 37 years when a budget was finally raised.  Gilliam called it:  1984 and a half. Sure ended up that way. Don Gilliam v  The Windmills of Hollywood.
  17. C Thomas Howell, The Hitcher, 1985.   Our young hero (who finds finds an amputated finger in his french fries) could have been Cruise, Matthew Modine, or brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen – instead of Howell, scared stiff by the titular Rutger Hauer.
  18. 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.
  19. Kevin Costner, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller – labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert – the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson caught Costner on the cusp of susperstardom (betweern The Untouchables and Field of Dreams) after seeing if the hero’s US Navy uniform would suit… Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, William Hurt, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Michael Nouri, Bill Paxton,  Sean Penn, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis.   Even the French Christophe(r) Lambert  or … Robin Williams?!
  20. 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.

  21. Roddy Piper, They Live, 1987The pitch was fine:Drifter finds some sunglasses that let him to see that aliens have taken over the Earth. And, appartently, the film.  Lousy! Which is probably why 18 other big guns, said nadato being Nada: Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Dolph Lundgren, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis (plus three mere pistols: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Campbell, Stephen Lang).  And the less said about Russell’s wrestler replacement, the better.“Just John Carpenter as usual,” said the Washington Post,  “trying to dig deep with a toy shovel.”
  22. Michael J Fox, Bright Lights, Big City, 1988.    “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). The drugs were exactly why Fox jumped into Jamie, to change his white bread image.
  23. 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.
  24. Michael Keaton, Batman1988.
  25. Ray Liotta, Goodfellas, 1989.   Super-agent Michael Ovitz’ CAA promised “better material, better inforfmation better deals and we’ll make your dream projects happen.”   But Warner was a star-driven studio. They had two CAA clients, Robert De Niro (but in a support role). They had Martin Scorsese (but hey, he was, whaddyercallit, a director). They needed A Name for Henry Hill, a cokehead Mafia stool-pigeon, whose true story this was.  (“As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.”) Warner suggested – wouldn’t you know it? – Cruise. And in what Ovitz called “a classically terrible studio idea”…. Eddie Murphy.“Marty wanted Ray,” recalled producer  Irwin  Winkler.  “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.” Result: Another Scorsese-Robert De Niro classic, wih Liotta and Lorraine Braco(in the place of Cruise and Madonna) as the co-narrators, Mr and Mrs Henry Hill.
  26. Brad Johnson, Always, 1989.  Steven Spielberg loved Spencer Tracy and longed to re-make his1943 weepie, A Guy Named Joe. Paul Nwman and p[al Robert Redford had no wish to replay Tracy, likewise  Cruise about the old Van Johnson role.  Spielberg’s Johnson was a cardboard cut-out and the fillm, the second dog’s breakfast from the maestro.  After 1978’s 1941.
  27. Kurt Russell, Tango and Cash, 1989.  Sylvester Stallone was Raymond Tango – without question. But who would he accept as his equally frame cop pardner, Gabriel Cash? After Patrick Swayze ran (to solo billing in Road House), the list was long… Costner, Michael Biehn, Pierce Brosnan, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Don Johnson, Michael Keaton, Ray Liotta, Liam Neeson, Michael Nouri, Gary Oldman, Robert Patrick, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Gary Sinise, Bruce Willis and James Woods. They lost out on the debatable pleasure of four directors! From the Russian Andrei Konchalovsky to, secretly, Stallone..!
  28.  Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.   Country bumpkins v the Mafia. Again. For the hero of his respun Raw Deal, 1985, UK director John Irvin went from The Obvious Aces: Cruise, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… to the Tango and Cash possibles: Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kurt Rusell… plus The Also-Rans: Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Dennis Quaid. And even French Christopher Lambert, Swedish Dolph Lundgren and Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme… for a Chicago cop!
  29. James Spader, Bad Influence, 1990.      Kevin Costner victimising Cruise  was among interesting  against-type  notions  of  producer Moshe Diamant.

  30. 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!

  31. Patrick Swayze, Ghost, 1990.    Me – a ghost? Get outa here!  Kevin Bacon Alec Baldwin Tom Hanks – joined the same chorus of the hour!   Plus Bruce Willis – and Mrs Bruce, Demi Moore, was the leading lady!
  32. David Morse, The Indian Runner, 1990. For the first of his 15 films as a director, actor Sean Penn contacted his Tapscohort to play Vietnam vet Frank Roberts.Tom passed.  Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers said while Penn haa a sure hand with actors, he trtied, too hard, for seriousness. “There’s no pacing, variety or humor in this unrelentingly somber film.” So he didn’t quit actingh, going on to win four Oscar nominations and one trophy.
  33. David Coburn, Captain Planet and the Planteers, TV, 1990-1991.       He passed the  voicing of “Earth’s Greatest Championand it became  Coburn’s fifth, longest (63 episodes) and last voice-over.  David  is  no kin  of James Coburn, who voiced Hoggish Greedly.
  34. Brad Pitt, Thelma & Louise, 1990.  
  35. 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.
  36. 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.”
  37. Timothy Hutton, Prelude To A Kiss, 1991.      Hardly right for Alec Baldwin’s off-Broadway role.  What did that matter if he said Yes.
  38. 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.
  39. 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…
  40. Val Kilmer, The Doors, 1991.     Tom had been among  many Jim Morrison wannabes as  the project went through numerous Hollywood hands across 20 years.

  41. Gary Oldman, JFK, 1991.
  42. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct,1991.
  43. Val Kilmer, Thunderheart, 1992.    “I never went to anyone else but Val,”  UK director Michael Apted told me in Deauvill, France. “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.” .  Apted then  shuffled a  dozen other  choices for the young agent, Ray Levoi: Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel, Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvster Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce WillisLevoi was 1/4th Sioux. Kilmer (the most unsung leading man of his generation,” for Chicago critic  Roger Ebert) is 1/8th Cherokee.
  44. Woody Harrelson, Indecent Proposal, 1992.      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.

  45. 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. 

  46. Emilio Estevez, The Mighty Ducks (UK:Champions),  1992.  From January 22 to April 11 to be precise.  With  Estevez beating  bro’ Charlie Sheen, plus Tom Cruise, Michael J Fox, Tom Hanks, the way too old Bill Murray and even the scenarist  Steve Brill, himself,  to  the seen-it-all-before sports movie. The one, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert,  “about the misfit coach who is handed a team of kids who are losers, and turns them into winners while redeeming himself.”
  47. Tim Robbins, The Hudsucker Proxy, 1993.   Producer Joel; Silver wanted Cruise but the Coen brothers insisted on Robbins.  They were right. Their film was not. Made in ‘93 and set in 58, the capitalism satire is rooted in 40s cinema – where surely Robbins’ mailroom clerk was born.  The Coens simply proved what we already knew. Their name was Coen, not Capra.
  48. Phil Hartman, The Simpsons #73:  Brother From the Same Planet, TV, 1993. Since its 1989 birth, the yellowtoon family Simpson smashed records for episodes, audiences, and the most guest stars (as themselves or others). From Buzz Aldrin, Glenn Close (Homer’s Mom), Dennis Franz (Evil Homer!), George Harrison, Stephen Hawking, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hope, Eric Idle to Paul and Linda McCartney, Conan O’Brien (a Simpsonswriter made good), Michelle Pfeiffer, Mickey Rooney, Ringo Starr, Meryl Streep plus  Barry (and Betty) White!  Not all celebs played ball. For example, Tom passd Tom to Hartman – The Glue ofSaturday Night Live.All of Phil’s characters (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure, etc) were retired after his murder in 1998.
  49. Emilio Estevez, Judgment Night, US-Japan, 1993.   Encore Emilio… 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.”
  50. 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).

  51. Christian Slater,  Untamed Heart, 1993.      “Certain things Tom Cruise had passed on, I think are brilliant,” comments Slater.
  52. Chris O’Donnell, The Three Musketeers, 1993.     Tom was ready to be D’Artagnan for Disney if John McTiernan directed. John didn’t. Tom didn’t.
  53. 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.
  54. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993.    There were 30 stars queuing for Die Hard On A Bus. From A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, even Mr Die Hard, himself, Bruce Willis… to the B group: Kevin Bacon, three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans Bruce Campbell and Chuck Norris. All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  55. 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. 
  56. Brad Pitt, Legends of the Fall, 1994.      Instead of Sean Connery-Cruise,  novelist  Jim Harrison’s father-son became Anthony Hopkins-Pitt.
  57. Brad Pitt, Interview With The Vampire, 1994.
  58. Charlie Sheen, Terminal Velocity, 1994.      Cruise and (Costner’s director pal) Kevin  Reynolds  parachuted out of the sky-diving  saga –  succeeded by Sheen and Dean Sarafian.
  59. 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.
  60. Michael J Fox,The Frighteners, 1994.   If Fox didn’t fancy the role  of Frank Bannister, New Zealand director Peter Jackson had two reservews in the wings.   Cruise and Matthew Broderick. (The poster was greater than the flick).

  61. 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.
  62. 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! 
  63. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Michael Collins, 1995.   Having made Interview With The Vampire together two years earlier, Irish director Neil Jordan invited the non-Irish Cruise to join his film about the creation of the Irish Free State.  Cruise did well to  avoid playing the assassin.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. George Clooney, One Fine Day, 1996.      New star rises. “A roguish charm coupled with a really remarkable comic ability,” said helmer Michael Hoffman.
  69. Antonio Banderas, The Mask of Zorro, 1997.     Plan A was Steven Spielberg directing Cruise – which never happened until Minority Report, 2001, and War of the Worlds, 2004. Directors then changed as often as Alejandro Murrieta, aka Zorro… Marc Anthony (future third husband of Jennifer Lopez), Puerto Rican pop icon Elmer Figueroa Arce, Joaquim de Almeida, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Garcia,
  70. Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic, 1997.

  71. 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. Jamie Foxx, who has worked with both superstars, told Deadline Hollywood’s Mike Fleming  Cruise and Will Smith were ultimate alpha males, the most competitive people he ever met. “That’s what it takes to be #1.”
  72. Sean Penn, The Thin Red Line, 1998.  Numerous stars – Clooney, Depp, DiCaprio, Oldman, Pacino, Pitt, Rourke, Martin Sheen, etc – were almost queuing up, offering their services (even for free) for wizard auteurTerrence Malick’s first movie since Days of Heaven…  21 years before!   (Sidney Lumet had earlier come close to filming “the best novel of war.”) Others actually received scripts.  Cruise got his. He didn’t bite. Penn got his. He told Malick: “Give me a dollar and tell me where to show up.”
  73. Bill Paxton, A Bright Shining Lie, TV, 1998.      US Army officer fighting the Vietnam war – and  fighting against it.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. Brendan Fraser,The Mummy,1998. A surprise winner, particularly as it starred Fraser instead of…  Ben Affleck or Matt Damon (they’d just won their Goodwill Huntingscript Oscar), EvilDead’s Bruce Campbell (his first studio offer), Leonardo DiCaprio (keen but tied to The Beach),the unknown Stephen Dunham (instead, he debuted as Henderson), Matthew McConaughey, Chris O’Donnell, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone and the star of the 2016 flop reboot, Tom Cruise. Not as the titular Imhotep, of course,  but the heroic Indiana…er… Rick O’Connell.  
  78. Alec Baldwin, The Simpsons #208:  When You Dish Upon A Star,TV, 1998. Bruce Willis refused a second invite – and his then-wife, Demi Moore, with him. Other candidates for the celeb couple were Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman, Kurt Russell-Goldie Hawn… and Alec Baldwin-Kim Basinger, who said: Sure! Eventually leading Baldwin’s unknown funny-bone into 30 Rock, 2006-2013.
  79. 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.”

  80. 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).

  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. Arnold Schwarzenegger, End of Days, 1999. Gave up Jericho Cane, just another hero, to head   Paul Thomas Anderson’s might, Altmanesque epic, Magnolia, as a sleazy motivational speaker for women-hating men. His credo? “Respect the cock”! 
  86. Chris Klein, Rollerball, 2001.       According to MGM,  Tom  did not want to do another actioner so soon after second M:I  caper.
  87. 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…The choice of the right actor to  portray s Nash  was vital.  Which had me wondering  why  Keanu Reeves, Charlie Sheen, John Travolta and  Bruce Willis   were on the short-list!    Then again they might have proved as surprising as Crowe. Director Ron Howard’s other candidates included  Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson,  Jared Leto, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt. Nash  liked the  six-Oscar-winner. “But it wasn’t me.”
  88. Stuart Townsend, Queen of the Damned, 2001.  A rush job.  Instead of filming the next two Anne Rice novels after Interview With A Vampire, Warner Bros had  an eye on the clock of their rights – and -mish-mashed them into a single sequel.  Rice hated it. So, apparently, did Cruise. He  certainly refused to reprise the vampiric  Lestat.- particularly with that title!    Wes Bentley won the gig, then quit. Josh Hartnett and Heath Ledger were seen but finally, the Irish Townsend was selected.  He had the voice, said Rice. He also had her heart… She had created a character called Stuart Townsend in her Witching Hour book. Eleven years before meeting him.
  89. 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.
  90. Sam Rockwell, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, 2002.      George Clooney, the new star rising of 1996, was now a (brilliant) debuting director.

  91. Ryan Gosling, The Notebook, 2002.  When Steven Spielberg was, as they say, attached, his two possibilities for Noah were Cruise and Justin Timberlake. But new director Nick Cassavetes wanted a “not handsome” unknown.  Enter: Gosling, getting in the mood by moving to Charleston for two months, rowing the Ashley River every morning and making furniture (such as the film’s kitchen table) in the afternoons.
  92. Eric Bana, Hulk, 2003.  Yeah, yeah, sure we know… Hey, we’ll offer it, anyway….. Taiwanese 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 included  Steve Buscemi, Tom Cruise, David Duchovny and even Jeff Goldblum at age 50…   But due to  Chopper, the Australian Bana became Bruce Banner. So did Norton in the 2007 version. A genuine Hulk fan, he hated this script and fled, coming back to re-write most of the 2007 script – probably why he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo for Disney’s first summit meeting of the Marvel superheroes, The Avengers, 2011. And six more chapters.  At least.
  93. Jude Law, Cold Mountain, 2003.        The dreaded 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.
  94. 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 up asione of the  producers – the one without  a credit.
  95. 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.”
  96. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire, 2004. 
    Tony Scott backed out of directing the first version in 1986, but helped  Denzel Washington retrieve his lost taste for acting in this re-make.  Sergio Leone chose  Robert De Niro  and Marlon Brando nearly played A J Quinnell’s ex-CIA hero turned mercenary (certainly helped re-write  him) but Scott Glenn won the  role. Tony Scott  had wanted Robert Duvall. The new scriptwriter, Brian Helgeland,  recalled going  into the LA Video Archives store  in the 80s and asking the clerk: “What’s good?” The clerk said:  Man on Fire. The clerk was Quentin Tarantino.  In both films Creasy  is trying to rescue a kidnapped girl, almost a daughter to him, that  he’s bodyguarding.  Yeah, rather like a matrix for Liam Neeson’s Takens. So no surprise to find Liam among some 25 actors up for Creasy. Alec Baldwin, Sean Bean (a nearly 007), Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Andy Garcia, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Viggo Mortensen,  Gary Oldman, Dennis Quaid, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Kurt Russell,  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… even our dear old  Bob Hoskins.  Creasy was later Bollywooded by the inimitable  Amitabh Bachchan (at age  63!). There were three songs, of course!

  97. Will Smith, I, Robot, 2004.  Before Schwarzenegger got interested in 1996.   And, later,  Clooney.

  98. 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.
  99. 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!
  100. 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.

  101. Cole Hauser, Paparazzi, 2004.      As the movie star wreaking revenge on four paparazzi. Produced by Mel Gibson.
  102. Brandon Routh, Superman Returns, 2005.
  103. 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!
  104. 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 McConaughey 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.” 
  105. 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!
  106. 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. 
  107. 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.”
  108. 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.
  109. Will Smith, I Am Legend, 2006.    “The last man on Earth is not alone”… Awaiting a re-hash ever since since Charlton Hestoned it as The Ωmega Man in 1970, Warner Bros wanted Ridley Scott directing Arnold Schwarzenegger as Robert Neville, Other incantations were devised over the years for Nicolas Cage (with X-Files