Casting your movie is hard. You have to find a name that's not only marketable but also one that embodies the themes and motifs you want. That'd be a delicate balance. For Stanley Kubrick, this was one of the most important decisions he made for every film.
When it came to his final film, Eyes Wide Shut, it was no different.
As you may well know, Kubrick had wanted to make a movie like this for quite some time. Famously obsessive, he had made lists and lists of the people he thought might embody the male lead.
David Mikics’ new biography, Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker, reveals the original wish list Kubrick dreamed up for casting his male lead in Eyes Wide Shut, which he then called Dream Story.
"In the Seventies, [Kubrick] fantasised about casting an actor in Dream Story who would have a comedian’s resilience, imagining Steve Martin or Woody Allen in the leading role,” Mikics writes.
Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Alan Alda, Albert Brooks, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, and Sam Shepherd...
That list is all over the place.
Knowing what we know about the movie now, with Tom Cruise all dashing and charming, it's hard to imagine anyone else taking us for a ride into the underworld, one rife with dangerous personalities, near-death encounters, and lots of amoral decisions.
Mikics goes on to say, “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.”
If Mikics' book is as interesting as this snippet, I can't wait to read it. Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker is now available for pre-order. The New York Times critic Dwight Garner calls the biography “a cool, cerebral book about a cool, cerebral talent. This is not a full-dress biography — there have been several of Kubrick — but a brisk study of his films, with enough of the life tucked in to add context as well as brightness and bite.”
Seems like No Film School readers will eat that up.