7 Actors That Kubrick Wanted to Cast as the Lead in 'Eyes Wide Shut'

Tom Cruise is one of the most handsome men in Hollywood and made Eyes Wide Shut feel classy and exclusive, but what if he was Woody Allen? 

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-orderThe 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.      

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This is not true. The intended actor was Harrison Ford. The main character's name since the first draft was Dr. Harford (short for Harrison Ford). See Frederick Rachael's book about his experience as Stanley's co-writer on the script, "Eyes Wide Open".

August 13, 2020 at 7:20PM

Humbert Humbert

Not true. The part was written for Harrison Ford. They even named the character after him (ie. Dr "Harford"). This is revealed in Frederick Raphael's book, "Eyes Wide Open", a memoir about his co-writing experience with Stanley on the script.

August 13, 2020 at 7:25PM

Humbert Humbert

"he cast an actor without a comic bone in his body, the earnest, highly deliberate Tom Cruise."

Which was perfect for an actor portraying somebody going through an initiation process through a series of rituals.

August 16, 2020 at 12:27PM

Marc B
Shooter & Editor