Anyone who had the pleasure of breathing in the late filmmaker’s cigar smoke, know that Tony Scott was no push-over. Sure, sometimes he found himself caged in of his cuff-key reach, but generally, he stuck to his [Top] guns and got his way. There were a few occasions though, when Scott – who sadly passed away yesterday at the age of 68 – had his hands tied. The more famous he got, and the more dough his films made, Scott was able to pick-and-choose who he wanted in his movies – explaining why he worked with good friend and all-round screen stud Denzel Washington so many times – but he didn’t always get his way.
Here are some names that Tony Scott originally wanted for parts in his movies but lost the argument :
“Top Gun” – Matthew Modine as Maverick
You can’t blame him, after all, Tom Cruise was an unknown commodity at the time, but it was Matthew Modine – gaining heat for his role in “Birdy” at the time – who Scott had originally envisioned wearing Maverick’s stripes. Modine (“The Dark Knight Rises”) opted instead to do Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”, pathing the way for Cruise.
“True Romance” – Val Kilmer as Clarence
The studio would never have allowed it, but there was some general discussion about Val Kilmer – one of Tony’s mates, whom he’d met on “Top Gun” – playing the role of the Hawaiian-shirt wearing Kung-Fu fan in the Quentin Tarantino directed picture. Kilmer so badly wanted to play Clarence, but Scott’s hands were tied on this one. Studio insisted on a younger, funkier name.
“Days of Thunder” – Meg Ryan as Claire
Would it have been easier to imagine Meg Ryan as a brain surgeon than Nicole Kidman? No, probably not. Scott had wanted to re-use his “Top Gun” discovery (she played Goose’s widow) for his similar-themed car flick, having her play Cruise’s love interest this time. Cruise had his heart – literally – set on Aussie bird Nicole Kidman though.
“Top Gun” – Michael J.Fox as Maverick
“Back to the Future” alum Michael J.Fox, being the golden boy of TV and film at the time, was someone Paramount wanted for ‘Maverick’ after Matthew Modine (See above) passed. Fox passed. Ironically, Eric Stoltz – the original ‘Marty’ in “Back to the Future” – put his hand up to do the part. Scott was never really keen on either.
“True Romance” – Robert De Niro as Blue Lou Boyle
He worked with him on “The Fan”, a couple of years later, but originally Tony Scott also tried to shoehorn Robert De Niro into “True Romance”. The Oscar Winning actor was Scott’s pick to play the character Blue Lou Boyle, but the part was cut from the script, and merely referenced by Chris Walken’s character.
“Crimson Tide” – Warren Beatty as Capt. Frank Ramsey
Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, along with Scott, had interest from Warren Beatty to play the sub-commander role that went to Gene Hackman. The trio tried to work out a deal with Beatty, but ultimately the deal fell through. Gene Hackman wasn’t so shabby though hey!? (But believe it or not Hackman was ‘way down’ on the wishlist; Tommy Lee Jones and Al Pacino had right of refusal first.)
“Enemy of the State” – Tom Cruise as Robert Clayton Dean
Because of the great experience they’d had on both “Top Gun” and “Days of Thunder”, Tony Scott and Tom Cruise were set to make this their third collaboration. When the schedule on “Eyes Wide Shut” went longer than expected (way longer), Scott was forced to consider alternatives. He ended up with Will Smith.
“Man on Fire” – Tom Cruise as Rayburn
I’m sure it didn’t take much arm-twisting, since they’d already developed a close working relationship on “True Romance”, but originally Scott wanted his old buddy Tom Cruise to play Rayburn, the character Christopher Walken played in the film.
“Revenge” – Jack Nicholson as Tibey
The role of Tibey was actually written with “Batman” star Nicholson in mind. The Oscar Winning actor was very interested in the part, but would only do it if he could direct the film too. Ultimately, both the studio and Nicholson agreed to part ways. Veteran Anthony Quinn was cast in the role of Tibey.
“Days of Thunder” – Robin Wright as Claire
The one-time Mrs Sean Penn was offered the role of Tom Cruise’s love interest but turned down the offer. And the ironic thing? She might just have been able to convince us that she could indeed mend brains. It was after “Princess Bride” star Wright nixed the offer that Cruise begun looking into potential leading ladies, and Scott put in his vote for the aforementioned Meg Ryan.