Casting Impossible: 9 huge roles that Tom Cruise almost played over the years 1 year ago

Casting Impossible: 9 huge roles that Tom Cruise almost played over the years

We're finding it tough to picture some of these with him in them.

In celebration of Tom Cruise's sixth time out as Ethan Hunt, we wanted to have a look back over his career to date.

While it is filled with some iconic, unforgettable roles, did you know he almost lost the part of Hunt in Mission: Impossible III to Brad Pitt? It is true, read all about it here.

But while he did keep the part, there are a few absolutely huge roles did he miss out on over the decades.


Who did it go to instead? Kevin Bacon, obviously! The producers want him for the lead part of a town that makes dancing illegal after seeing him bop around in his tighty-whities in Risky Business. He had to turn it down because it clashed with another project he had already signed on to...

What did Tom do instead? All The Right Moves. No, we're not sure we've ever heard of it, either.


Who did it go to instead? Johnny Depp. Writer/director Tim Burton said that while he never really thought Cruise was right for the role, but he was very happy to have met him: "He certainly wasn’t my ideal, but I talked to him. He was interesting, but I think it worked out for the best. A lot of questions came up—I don’t really recall the specifics—but at the end of the meeting I did feel like, and I probably even said this to him,'It’s nice to have a lot of questions about the character, but you either do it or you don’t do it.'"

What did Tom do instead? Days Of Thunder, which... wasn't great.

GHOST (1990)

Who did it go instead? Patrick Swayze, who revealed in his autobiography that Tom was very nearly the dead guy who loved Demi Moore too much to go to heaven, because the director just couldn't disassociate Swayze from his role as the high-kicking ass-kicker in Roadhouse. To be fair, Cruise wasn't alone on the 'Maybe' pile, which also featured Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Tom Hanks.

What did Tom do instead? It was the same year as Edward Scissorhands, so it was also Days Of Thunder.


Who did it go to instead? Woody Harrelson, and another time Tom almost starred alongside Demi Moore (they would eventually share the screen for A Few Good Men). He and then-wife Nicole Kidman almost starred in the lead roles, with the millionaire almost played by Woody Harrelson, before it eventually went to Robert Redford. Director Adrien Lyne told the Sun Sentinel that "I tested Nicole Kidman later. She was good, but it didn’t work out. Demi was better. I’ve seen Demi for every movie I’ve done, and I’ve watched her change. She’s lovely to watch in a tactile way."

What did Tom do instead? The Firm, which was also a massive hit ($270 million to Indecent's $266 million), so no hard feelings!


Who did it go to instead? Tim Robbins. After making The Firm, director Sydney Pollack offered Frank Darabont a huge amount of money to not make the Stephen King prison movie, as he wanted to make it with Cruise. Darabont told Vanity Fair that he almost said yes, because he was so broke at the time, but eventually he realised that "you can continue to defer your dreams in exchange for money and, you know, die without ever having done the thing you set out to do."

What did Tom do instead? Interview With A Vampire, which was good, but not exactly considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made...


Who did it go to instead? Johnny Depp again. Cruise nearly took on the role of the undercover agent with director Stephen Frears (The Van, High Fidelity), but the stars simply didn't align, as the production took too long to get going, and he was forced to drop out.

What did Tom do instead? Eyes Wide Shut, ironically an even longer production, which began filming in November 1996, and eventually hit cinemas in July 1999.


Who did it go to instead? Russell Crowe. Before going to Ron Howard, the movie was almost directed by Robert Redford as the genius mathematician, but Tom had to choose between this and another film that he held close to his heart, and he ultimately chose against this one.

What did Tom do instead? Vanilla Sky, which made less money and received less Oscar attention, but is still a far better movie.

IRON MAN (2008)

Who did it go to instead? Robert Downey Jnr, who Disney and Marvel were super uncomfortable about taking the lead on their first big swing at comic-book movies, especially since Cruise had expressed an interest in playing the part for the best part of a decade, before eventually telling IGN in 2005 that "It's not happening. Not with me, no … They came to me at a certain point and, when I do something, I wanna do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it's gonna be something special. And as it was lining up, it just didn't feel to me like it was gonna work. I need to be able to make decisions and make the film as great as it can be, and it just didn't go down that road that way."

What did Tom do instead? Valkyrie. Well, that isn't exactly fair, as it isn't like he chose the Nazi-killing thriller over the MCU, but this is the movie that came out alongside Iron Man's first big screen outing.

SALT (2010)

Who did it go to instead? Angelina Jolie, who played Edwina Salt, after the part was initially written as Edwin A. Salt, a male super-spy who was lined up to be played by Cruise. Director Philip Noyce told NBC that "Tom was flirting with the part, and we just couldn't pin him down."

What did Tom do instead? Knight & Day, another sorta-spy movie, but much lighter in town. It made slightly less than Salt did ($262 million to $293 million), but was also not particularly good, or memorable.