“Eyes Wide Shut” is a significant film in the career of the legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. It’s the final film that was completed before his death, and it’s also a project that the director held near and dear to his heart for decades prior, attempting to get it made 30 years before it was finally released. And apparently, over that time, Kubrick had a pretty eclectic list of actors he was interested in to lead the erotic feature.
A couple of years ago, it was revealed that Steve Martin discussed the film, which was adapted from the 1926 novella titled “Dream Story,” with Kubrick before the filmmaker went into production. At the time, it wasn’t clear what the role was or how Martin would fit into the film. However, in the upcoming biography, “Stanley Kubrick: An American Filmmaker,” it’s shown that Martin was one of many actors that was considered for the lead role that would later be occupied by Tom Cruise.
“In the Seventies, [Kubrick] fantasized about casting an actor in ‘Dream Story who would have a comedian’s resilience, imagining Steve Martin or Woody Allen in the leading role,” author David Mikics writes in the book (via The Independent). “In a notebook from the Eighties, he listed a series of possible leading men, including Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Alan Alda, Albert Brooks, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, and Sam Shepherd????”
He added, “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.”
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to really know what the earlier version of “Eyes Wide Shut” would have been like with Allen, Martin, Murray, or any of the other comedic actors in the lead role. With Cruise’s performance in the film being our only real indication of what Kubrick’s vision was, it feels completely crazy to imagine any of the other guys in the leading role. It would have fundamentally changed so much of the film.
But damn, wouldn’t it have been interesting to see someone like Bill Murray in the lead? Especially knowing what type of acting career he would eventually go on to have?