Tom Cruise Wanted To Be Rorschach In ‘Watchmen’

Tom Cruise Watchmen Rorschach

Zack Snyder is currently on a non-stop press tour for Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver, now getting critically savaged on Netflix. And as part of the tour, the famously open-book Snyder is also doling out some surprising info about his previous films. Including that Tom Cruise wanted to play Rorschach in Watchmen.

“I wanted Tom Cruise for Ozymandias. Tom wanted to play Rorschach,” Snyder told host Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “Which obviously, he could have done. But we had Jackie already. And Jackie is, like, unbelievable. I mean, but I certainly would have considered Tom in retrospect, if I hadn’t had Jackie.”

What’s perhaps wildest about this story isn’t that Cruise — who has often thrown himself out there for strangely miscast roles in his once-a-decade attempt to be a “serious” actor — is that Tom Cruise lost out on a role to Jackie Earle Haley, who did end up playing the mumble-mouthed vigilante in the movie. Is this something that happens often? Did Haley beat out Cruise for the role of Kelly Leak in Bad News Bears back in the ’70s? Was Cruise gunning for Freddy Kruger in the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot, only to see it snatched from his claw fingers by Haley? Are they always seeing each other in casting calls and going, “oh, you again! We’re always up for the same roles!”

Probably not? But at the time, this idea that Snyder somehow told Cruise, “No, we’re good on this,” has rocked my entire worldview. And Snyder sort of agreed, adding, “Which would have been unbelievable, in retrospect.”

Yes, “unbelievable” is a good word to use there. If you’re not familiar, Watchmen is a seminal comic book series from DC Comics, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, that basically transformed the comic book industry. It’s been adapted numerous times, including Snyder’s 2009 film, as well as a sequel series also titled Watchmen from HBO.

Like most of Snyder’s oeuvre, the response to his Watchmen adaptation was mixed. However, even those who are not fans generally agree the casting is spot-on, so this sort of “what if” is interesting. And on that note, one bit of casting that did not seem to be considered, or if it was, it was only floated out there? Keanu Reeves as the all-powerful Doctor Manhattan.

“My wife is a huge Keanu fan, she’s always bringing up Keanu for every role,” Snyder continued. “So I think that makes sense to me that we probably talked about that. He’s probably a good Manhattan. But [Billy] Crudup is, like, insane… To this day, Billy is one of my favorite actors that I’ve worked with, ever.”

Perhaps of note, Keanu Reeves disputed this account in a 2008 interview with Horowitz, where he said he passed on the role because “it didn’t work out.” So perhaps Snyder’s memory is a little fuzzy on this one.

The other big question here, and nothing against Matthew Goode who ended up playing Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias in the movie: why didn’t Cruise get that role? Was Cruise all like, “Rorschach or bust?” The world may never know.

Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver is now on Netflix.

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