Stanley Kubrick is remembered as one of the all-time great directors, and his final movie was 1999's Eyes Wide Shut It was a movie that had been rattling around in Kubrick's brain for some time, ultimately starring Tom Cruise in the lead role. But, as it turns out, has the movie been made earlier on in Kubrick's career, it might have been a remarkably different movie. It turns out, the filmmaker had other actors in mind, including Bill Murray, Steve Martin and Tom Hanks.

The reveal came from author David Mikics in his new book Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker. Eyes Wide Shut is based on the 1926 novella by Arthur Schnitzler. In the biography on the late director, Mikics reveals through his research that Stanley Kubrick was looking to cast an actor with comedic chops for the role in the 70s and 80s. Here's what Mikics had to say in his book.

"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. 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????"

Considering the eventual casting of Tom Cruise, this list is quite surprising. Granted, these names were compiled years before Cruise became a big star. But the radical shift in direction and almost certainly tone is what stands out. Writing further, David Mikics elaborates on the consequences of that decision.

"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-defence; Kubrick makes him, in the end, defenceless."

For better or for worse, not going with someone like Bill Murray in the leading role reshaped the movie. In Eyes Wide Shut, Tom Cruise plays Dr. William Hartford. He discovers that his wife, Alice, played by Cruise's then real wife Nicole Kidman, is having sexual fantasies about a man she met. He then becomes obsessed with having a sexual encounter. So, William discovers an underground sexual group and attends one of their meetings, only to discover that he is in way over his head.

Stanley Kubrick had a truly storied career, directing iconic cinematic classics such as Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. In its day, Eyes Wide Shut was met with a decent response critically and was a solid hit, earning $162 million worldwide. It has, however, found renewed appreciation in the years since its initial release. Kubrick passed away mere days after finishing his final cut of the movie. Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker hits shelves on August 18. This news comes to us via The Independent.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott