If you just run down the IMDB page of Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” it’s clear that the filmmaker has no shortage of stars that are wanting to work with him. Outside of “Avengers: Endgame,” there’s perhaps no better cast, based on sheer star power, that has been put together in the last decade. But believe it or not, one of the biggest stars on the planet was passed over during the casting process for the film.
Speaking on the HappySadConfused podcast, Tarantino discussed how “Mission: Impossible” star Tom Cruise was actually one of the folks that were thought of for the role of Cliff Booth in ‘Once Upon a Time.’ In the film, Cliff is played by Brad Pitt and is the stunt-double/confidant for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton. And when Tarantino was thinking about the duo of Cliff and Rick, he had various people in mind, including Cruise.
“We talked about it,” Tarantino said when asked if Cruise would consider playing the Cliff role that Pitt was ultimately cast in. “He’s a great guy and we really hit it off. [A collaboration] could happen on something else.”
However, as the filmmaker continued, he explained that really it was always going to be Pitt and DiCaprio, but if one of them didn’t work out, he’d have had to move onto other parings.
“The reality is, was it always these two guys? It’s the casting coup of the decade,” said the filmmaker. “You can’t count on that. They both have to respond to it, they both have to want to play those roles, they both have to be available, there’s a whole lot of stuff there. And if you’re casting an actor, casting a team, where the one guy is a double of another guy then they have to match up in the right kind of way.”
He added, “So the reality is I had maybe eight different pairings of actors that could go together in a realistic way in this kind of situation. Now the ones that I got were definitely my number 1 [choices], but I could never just be confident about that, I had to have a few different backups and a few different exploratory ways to go.”
While the Tom Cruise casting didn’t actually come to fruition, it appears that Tarantino has the actor in his Rolodex and is ready to call when needed. And if that’s not a sign of reaching the mountaintop in filmmaking, then we don’t know what else is. There aren’t many folks that can confidently say that Tom Cruise is their Plan B.
“I didn’t quite look at it like that! But uhh…” he said before bursting into laughter.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” opens this Friday.