Stanley Kubrick once considered Tom Hanks & Woody Allen for Eyes Wide Shut

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Stanley Kubrick is remembered as one of the greatest directors of all-time, and rightfully so. He gave us such classics as THE SHINING, DR. STRANGELOVE, and FULL METAL JACKET but his final film before his death was 1999's EYES WIDE SHUT. Despite not making the film until the late '90s, Kubrick had but thinking about making the film for a very long time but ultimately Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman landed the lead roles. However, if the movie had been much earlier as he originally intended, the Tom Cruise role could've landed some interesting faces, to say the least, and it would've been a drastically different film. 

It turns out that Kubrick had names like Tom Hanks, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, and Bull Murray, to name a few, in the running to play the Dr. William Hartford role that went to Tom Cruise. The news was revealed by author David Mikics in his new book "Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker." EYES WIDE SHUT happens to be based on a 1926 novella called "Dream Story" by Arthur Schnitzler and in the biography on the late director, Mikics reveals through is research that Kubrick wanted to cast a comedic actor for the lead male role during the '70s and '80s:

"In the Seventies, Kubrick fantasized about casting an actor in Dream Story who would have a comedian's resilience, imagining Steve Martin or Woody Allen in the leading role. In a notebook from the Eighties he listed a series of possible leading men, including Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks and Sam Shepherd"

I'm trying to picture any of these guys in that role and I begin to chuckle before even considering how it even could've been a possibility. This becomes especially true since Tom Cruise was ultimately cast because he doesn't have the same vibe as any of these performers. These names were put together before Cruise became a huge star but the radical shift in direction, and possibly tone, is what would've made the project a much different film. Mikics goes on to elaborate on the consequences of choosing Cruise, which seems to be his opinion judging from the quote:

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-defense; Kubrick makes him, in the end, defenseless.

In the film, Tom Cruise plays Dr. William Hartford and he discovers that his wife, Alice, played by Cruise's then real wife Nicole Kidman, is having sexual fantasies about a man she met. After the reveal, he becomes obsessed with having a sexual encounter of his own and he discovers an underground sexual group. Once he attends one of their meetings, he discovers he is in way over his head. Can you imagine Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, or Woody Allen doing any of that?

EYES WIDE SHUT, at the time of release, was met with a decent response from critics and the film earned $162.2 million worldwide, although most of that love came from international markets since domestic moviegoers might've found the film a bit too heavy and dark. In recent years, the film has found a renewed appreciation as people rediscover Kubrick's films. I even know many people that call it an underrated masterpiece and I would have to agree with them. It's visually interesting with solid lead performances from Cruise and Kidman and you can't help but get sucked into world Kubrick has created. I doubt it would've had the same impact with the original men he considered but it's certainly a damn fine film now.

Could YOU see any of those actors playing the Tom Cruise role?

Source: The Independent

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