Tom Cruise is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and has been for some time now, having starred in some truly excellent movies in his career. Turns out, he very nearly starred in one of the best movies of all time, after getting as far as doing a table read of the script for The Shawshank Redemption before the role went to Tim Robbins.
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Robbins pulling off the role of Andy Dufresne now, who brought the perfect everyman charm and believability so crucial to the character in this drama movie. That said, it’s almost no surprise that Cruise was considered for the role, after a string of hit roles in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
In a bumper feature from Vanity Fair back in 2014, it’s revealed that Rob Reiner, who was behind the Castle Rock company charged with bringing the movie to life, saw Tom Cruise as the perfect man for the leading role in the movie based on a book, but it wasn’t to be.
Reiner had offered screenwriter Frank Darabont a reported $3 million to also direct the movie, and despite rumours, there was no “power struggle over the script,” according to Darabont.
By this time, Reiner was a seasoned professional, with hits like Stand By Me, the thriller movie Misery, and A Few Good Men under his belt. Reiner wanted Cruise after collaborating on the latter of those movies, but Darabont didn’t like the idea.
Apparently, Reiner then offered Darabont “a shitload of dough,” if he would back away and let Reiner direct the film instead and get Cruise in the leading role. Castle Rock even went as far as to promise Darabont that the studio would also finance whatever project he wanted for his directorial debut instead.
Although tempted, Darabont refused the offer, claiming “you can continue to defer your dreams in exchange for money and die without ever having done the thing you set out to do.” He stuck to his guns, and the end result was remarkable.
Cruise is believed to have loved the screenplay, and even sat down for a table read. But, he wasn’t keen on working with a first-time director like Darabont, and when Reiner explained it was Darabont’s vision, Cruise walked away.