Before his current career trajectory of throwing himself off of planes and mountains for the Mission: Impossible movies, Tom Cruise was riding a wave of success as a serious dramatic actor in the ’90s. With hits like Rain Man, A Few Good Men, and Jerry Maguire under his belt, Cruise only wanted to work with the best directors, and he stunned his critics by landing a role in what would be Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut.
However, the new biography, Stanley Kubrick: American Filmaker, has revealed that the legendary director originally had a very, very different actor in mind for the lead in Eyes Wide Shut. Namely, Woody Allen. You couldn’t get more opposite of Cruise than that. According to the biography, Kubrick had been trying to adapt the novella Dream Story (which later became Eyes Wide Shut) since the ’70s, and he always envisioned the lead as a more comedic type like Allen or even Steve Martin. That list would expand as Kubrick continued to try the film off the ground. Via Independent:
“In a notebook from the Eighties he listed a series of possible leading men, including Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Alan Alda, Albert Brooks, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks and Sam Shepherd????’
“Significantly, when Kubrick finally made his version of Dream Story, he cast an actor without a comic bone in his body, the earnest, highly deliberate Tom Cruise. Comedy would have been a weapon for the hero’s self-defence; Kubrick makes him, in the end, defenceless.”
While Eyes Wide Shut became a critical hit and has been recognized as one of The 100 Greatest American Films by the BBC, the erotic psycho-thriller starring Cruise and Nicole Kidman eventually resulted in their shocking divorce in 2001 following widespread rumors that the couple required an “intimacy coach” for the film’s provocative scenes. It was also the beginning of the end for Cruise’s dramatic career as he began leaning into more action fare going into the 2000s, which has slowly snowballed into the actor attempting to launch himself into space.