In the world of movies, there are sometimes surprise hits. There are occasionally movies that have a bigger impact than anyone could have ever guessed. One example of this is The Shawshank Redemption, a movie that the second lead felt would fail because of its complicated name.
Admittedly, his thoughts were partially true. It wasn’t the immediate success that people expect movies to be in the theater. However, nearly 30-years later, it is a movie that still has people talking. Not only is it one of the greats, but it stands out by the buzz it created for its casting call lineups in which both Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise were considered.
Unimaginable casting depth achieved for The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption was released on September 22, 1994. According to IMDb, there are a lot of things that most people may not even realize about this iconic film that has won several awards and accolades. For instance, did you know that before it was made, a casting call was sent out from director Frank Darabont that included practically every big-name male actor at the time?
Some of the biggest names included Jeff Bridges, Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, and Charlie Sheen, just to play the part of Andy Dufresne.
Hanks, who was tied up with Forrest Gump, turned down the role of Dufresne. However, he did pair up with Darabont in The Green Mile, which is an adaptation of a Stephen King novel and takes place in a prison.
Costner wanted to play Dufresne as well. However, since he was filming Waterworld, he had to turn it down. Some big names were in the mix for who would ultimately bring Red to life. Some of them included Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, and Robert Duvall.
Sidney Poitier turned down the role of Red, saying that he didn’t feel that playing a convict was providing a good example. The role of Tommy Williams, who was tutored by Dufresne, was originally intended for Brad Pitt. Instead, Pitt went on to play the lead role in Interview with the Vampire that same year.
The cast wasn’t the only ones taking notice
Actor Charlie Sheen loved the script for The Shawshank Redemption so much that he called up an executive he knew at Castle Rock and said, “I’ll do this film for fucking scale”. This basically meant that he would do the film for the minimum amount.
To land the part, Sheen offered to film a 30-minute test reel with him playing Red to show he could do the job. Ultimately, Castle Rock said, “No”, and according to Sheen, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman was cast in lead roles not long afterward.
Rob Reiner is another who believed in the script. He reportedly loved Darabont’s script so much that he offered $2.5 million for the rights to it. He wanted to direct it and have Harrison Ford play Red and Tom Cruise to take on the role of Andy.
This offer was considered by Darabont, but ultimately, turned down. He decided that it was his chance to do something great. He even took a pay cut to direct the movie.
A movie unlike all others
The Shawshank Redemption is a movie that will go down in the history books of the film industry. As proof, In 2014, The Oscars hosted a 20-year anniversary screening of The Shawshank Redemption. Both Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman were in attendance.
Whether you love the movie or not, you cannot deny that the amount of respect and love Red and Andy have for one another is impressive. Tim Robbins once said that it is a movie that is “A uniquely non-sexual love story between two men.” It is evident from the moment they first meet on the prison’s outdoor field and continues for nearly 20-years of Dufresne’s time at Shawshank prison.
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