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Ford V Ferrari: Original Leads Were Almost Entirely Different

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Come to think of it now, there would have been no actor we could have imagined other than Matt Damon as the brilliant automotive engineer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as the fearless race car driver Ken Miles in the blockbuster movie Ford V Ferrari. In Hollywood, many secrets and mysteries get buried as the movie starts taking shape from pre to post production. Ford V Ferrari also has a deep, dark secret. And this secret leads us to the original choices by the film makers for the lead roles in the movie. Believe it or not, Matt Damon and Christian Bale were not the first choices for portraying Shelby and Miles respectively. The original lead actors were almost entirely different.

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Can you guess what the original options were for playing the leads? Joseph Kosinski, Director of the upcoming movie Top Gun: Maverick stated that he was very close to roping in Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise for the roles in this project. The 2019 period drama was an attempt at telling the story of the struggle of the American Ford Motor Company as they tried to outrun the powerful Ferrari Corporation in the arena of international racing. The movie was a Box Office Hit and grossed more than $225 Million worldwide. The critics were all over the movie, praising everything from its cinematography to its powerful ensemble cast.

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Much of the applause also went to Christian Bale’s portrayal of Ken Miles. Bale actually lost a lot of weight and trained intensively to get into the shape of a race car driver. He also prepared him-self mentally for the role. Matt Damon’s portrayal of Carroll Shelby also received universal acclaim. The movie was nominated for not just one but four Oscars in four different categories. One of the categories was for the Best Picture.

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Now imagine what the movie could have been if the lead actors were different than the ones that ended up starring in the movie. The excruciatingly painful and notoriously difficult Le Mans Race was shown in all its vigor. The icing on the cake was how Matt Damon and Christian Bale carried it on their shoulders. We do not know about you guys but we don’t even for a second think that Tom Cruise could have done a better job at playing Ken Miles than Christian Bale.

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The Director of the movie, James Mangold, likes to get down and dirty on the sets while trying to ensure the actors understand his vision. Bale is known to be very humble in his ways. Matt Damon exhumes that quality too. James Mangold has directed blockbusters that also doubled down as critically acclaimed like Logan and Walk The Line. He gives one of his finest masterpieces with Ford V Ferrari. Many critics praised Mangold for the Direction. That would not have been possible without Damon and Bale. Both Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are known to throw hissy fits on sets. We are in no way downgrading the actors’ acting chops but there has been ample news to confirm what we have already stated.

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Like Damon and Bale, James Mangold was also not the first choice for the Studio to direct the movie. That honor went to Joseph Kosinski. Joseph was worked with Cruise and Pitt in the past and it was his choice to feature these two mega-stars as the leads for Ford V Ferrari. After Kosinski was given the pink slip for the project, Mangold took over where he left and he changed the leads to get actors that would abide by his rules and understand his direction and vision better.

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While in an interview as part of a panel at Comic Con @Home, Joseph Kosinski revealed the two big names that he originally planned to work along with him in Ford V Ferrari. That was during the time when he was still officially part of the project as mandated by the Studio.

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The one that I always think about that got away was called Go Like Hell. Which eventually did get made as Ford v Ferrari. I always wanted to make a racing film and, the thing about racing movies is, it can’t be about racing, it has to have some amazing story underneath to warrant itself being made. And that story was one of those great stories of an incredible friendship and an incredible rivalry and an incredibly dangerous race. So we, I wouldn’t say we got close to production, but I got to the point where I had Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt at a table read reading the script together, which was pretty amazing. But we couldn’t get the budget to the number it had to be at.

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There is reason why Kosinski chose Cruise. He is already working with him for Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the cult classic Top Gun movie. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise have shared the screen a long time ago. It was during the movie Interview With the Vampire. Brad Pitt was then a newcomer to the industry while Tom Cruise had established himself as one of the greatest stars of that time. Starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in Ford V Ferrari would have added way too much star power to the project. The movie would have benefited immensely form the project. But the actors’ rates were too much and that is why their names were dropped.

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Fans are speculating which actor would have played which role in the movie. While us assigning the role of Ken Miles to Tom Cruise does sound reasonable, there is no fact to prove that it was what the film makers wanted. Tom Cruise has already played the role of a Race Car Driver in the movie Days of Thunder. On the other hand, Brad Pitt could have played the role of Shelby pretty well in place of Matt Damon. Given Pitt is also from Oklahoma him-self, he would have had little trouble in playing the brash automotive engineer Carroll Shelby.

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In the end, all’s well that ends well. The wheels of fate turned and Ford V Ferrari roped in Matt Damon and Christian Bale for the project and we were all so happy about it when we saw both of them in action in the theaters last year.  What we want to say here is – things could have been way different if not for a slight change of plans.

Written by Bibhu Prasad Panda

With a Bachelor's in Engineering and a Master's in Marketing and Operations, Bibhu found a love for writing, working for many different websites. He joined FandomWire in July 2020 and worked his way to his current position of Content Strategist. Bibhu has been involved in operating and managing FandomWire's team of writers, diversifying into varied, exotic fields of pop culture.

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