Tom Cruise Nearly Played Johnny Depp’s Most Famous Character

By Nathan Kamal | 2 months ago

tom cruise

Tom Cruise has had no shortage of iconic roles in his long, ageless career. He is Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series of films. He is Maverick in Top Gun and the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick. He was Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire. He was the guy that accidentally goes to a crazy mask party in Eyes Wide Shut, which is what we assume happened in that movie. But apparently one of the roles he wanted most was the one that turned Johnny Depp into a superstar: Edward Scissorhands. Before Depp was cast as the world’s palest hairdresser, a number of different actors were considered for the role. The list included Tom Hanks and Gary Oldman (both of whom turned it down), and apparently, Michael Jackson was interested in the role of the gentle, ostracized freak of nature living by himself in a mansion, for some reason. But according to a Dazed Digital interview with Caroline Thompson, who wrote the screenplay for Edward Scissorhands, Tom Cruise did not get the part for a weird reason: he would not stop asking how Edward went to the bathroom. 

More specifically, it sounds like Tom Cruise wanted more concrete, real-world details about the world of Edward Scissorhands than either Caroline Thompson or director Tim Burton could provide. Aside from the bathroom thing (which is a legitimate question), Cruise also wanted to know how Edward has survived the years after The Inventor’s (Vincent Price in his final on-screen role) death. It really seems like Cruise needed to understand the logistics of Burton’s exaggerated, expressionistic world, which is kind of missing the entire point of a parable. Many of Burton’s films of this time period operate on a near-dream logic, which requires a suspension of disbelief from the nuts and bolts. Apparently, this is not Tom Cruise’s methodology, so it is probably good that the part eventually went to Johnny Depp. Still, it is fun to imagine that before Cruise accepts a role, he peppers the filmmakers with questions like these. How does The Vampire Lestat tie his shoes? Does Jack Reacher wake up with a weird taste in his mouth? Did The Mummy have dreams while he was dead? The mind boggles. 

Edward Scissorhands ended up being an unexpected box office and critical hit, and launched Johnny Depp into the next stage of his career. He quickly left behind 21 Jump Street and his teen idol image, becoming known for thoughtful independent fare like Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man and Jeremy Leven’s Don Juan DeMarco. Then Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl broke hard in 2003, and he became a bonafide A-lister. In recent years, a number of legal and personal issues have hampered his career, to the point of being recast in the Harry Potter-adjacent Fantastic Beasts franchise. Tom Cruise, on the other hand, is doing his very best to become the first actor to die doing stunts in space and is rumored to be popping up in the MCU for a cameo soon. Hopefully, someone told him how Iron Man goes to the bathroom.