Michael Mann’s stylish thriller movie Collateral is one of the best 2000s movies there is, with its action-packed, tense narrative, and exceptional performance from Tom Cruise. Collateral could have been very different though, if the role of Vincent had gone to Adam Sandler instead of Cruise, as was the original plan.
Collateral stars Cruise as Vincent, a violent hitman on a killing spree, who takes his taxi driver Max (Jamie Foxx) hostage as they drive around the streets of LA. The 2004 neo-noir action movie is widely regarded as one of Mann’s finest works, and also one of Tom Cruise’s best performances. But the pair were not originally attached to the project.
In an extensive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mann explained how he got involved in the production of Collateral, and how he changed the whole concept of the movie. Turns out, comedy movie actor Adam Sandler was initially in line for the role that eventually went to Tom Cruise, and the movie was actually going to be called The Lost Domino, too.
“It was one of those funny screenplays,” Mann said. “Nothing’s wrong with Adam Sandler, but it [would have] took place in New York, the Jamie Foxx character was a badly-written Jewish cab driver, with the kind of stereotypes that can only come from someone writing that kind of a character who’s foreign, who’s not American, that doesn’t live in New York.”
“I didn’t like the screenplay, I didn’t like the dialogue, I didn’t like writing, but if you took the screenplay, and put it under an X-ray machine, and took a look at it, you realize this thing has beautiful, beautiful bones,” Mann continued. “It’s one of the most beautifully constructed stories I had ever run into.”
Apparently, the plan was for Adam Sandler and Russell Crowe to be in the movie at first. Then when Mann took over, he was eyeing Tom Cruise for the role of the taxi driver, and a woman for the role of the assassin. After some discussion, he eventually landed on Cruise and Foxx, and the rest is history.
Still, we all know Adam Sandler is great in serious movies, so maybe it could have been amazing. We’ll never know.